THE TIME BEFORE TIME
In the early eras of existence, seven powers held dominion over the world. Two Brothers, one benevolent and kind, the other malevolent and chaotic. Two Queens, insatiable in hunger, who existed only to devour all they could, and destroy what they could not. A Viceroy, who wished to dominate and control, and an Empress, whose desire was to distort nature’s creations to suit her own twisted whims. There also existed an Other, enigmatic and aloof, a force that remained impartial, refusing to interfere in the affairs of its compatriots.
For eons, these seven powers remained amiable, each ruling over a separate portion of the planet. However, having reduced their own allotted lands to barren wastes, the Queens grew greedy, and journeyed to the island that would later come to be called Mata Nui, where the Brothers resided. While the Brothers had their differences, they still banded together to fight off this mutual threat. In the end, their combined might was enough to defeat, but not destroy, the Queens – they were imprisoned deep below the island, and their children, the Bohrok, fell into a dormant slumber. The Brothers combined their power to give life to eight sentient Seals – called Krana – which could be used to siphon some of the Queen’s power, wresting control over their Bohrok. Impressed by this display of power, the Viceroy, Empress, and Other all wisely chose to honour the agreed-upon borders.
For hundreds of years afterwards, the Brother’s island existed in a delicate balance between good and evil, with the benign Mata Nui (after whom the island had been named), and his brother, the malignant Makuta, fighting in an endless stalemate over the souls of the Matoran inhabitants. Both required the belief of the Matoran – faith and fear, respectively – to hold onto their power. But, as time went by, the people’s belief in their legends wavered, and Makuta seized advantage of this to cast his weakened brother into an endless slumber, giving himself the freedom to wreak havoc across the island.
All was not lost, though, as seven prophesised champions, the Toa, rose from obscurity to combat Makuta and reawaken Mata Nui. However, fate played a cruel trick on these heroes. The stories foretelling their destiny had been misconstrued, distorted, and skewed. Under the direction of the embittered, vengeful Turaga, the Toa ventured into Makuta’s lair beneath the island, and slew him.
They never returned.
Their mission had been to reawaken Mata Nui, and restore balance to the island. By destroying Makuta, they had instead destroyed what little balance remained, bringing about a disaster more catastrophic than anything Makuta alone could’ve managed, and opening the way for far darker, more destructive powers to rise to prominence.
With both Brothers out of play, the magic that had kept the Queens imprisoned began to waver. The island underwent an immense tectonic upheaval, tsunamis battered the coastlines, fissures ripped apart the ground, and the Mangai Volcano erupted, shrouding the land in ash. The villages survived the chaos, save for one; as a result of Ta-Koro’s attempt to redirect the lava flows away from destroying their own village, the jungles of Le-Wahi burned, and Le-Koro burned with them.
While the Queens still remained trapped, the Krana alone were no longer enough to contain their power. Gradually, they were able to recover enough of their energies to reawaken some of the Bohrok, which began to search for the Krana. However, beings such as Makuta do not die easily, for while his body was gone, the tattered remains of his weakened spirit remained, seeking refuge in infected Masks and corrupted Kolhii balls, covertly influencing events in an effort to prevent the utter destruction of the island… and ensure his own return.
AFTER THE FALL
With almost half the island incinerated, and much of the fertile land spoiled by the fallen ash, Ga-Koro soon came to hold the monopoly on water and food. With only limited land available to grow food and crops, they struck up a partnership with Po-Koro, who worked to maintain farms and fields on Ga-Koro’s behalf. This remained a peaceful partnership until ten years ago, when Ga-Koro caught wind of rumours that Po-Koro was planning to invade and seize sole control of the food and water trade, and pre-emptively poisoned their next water shipment, slaughtering half of Po-Koro’s population.
In the aftermath, the rulers of Ga-Koro made it clear that they would do the same to anyone else who crossed them, and even threatened to burn the fields and poison the water stores if they were invaded… a threat that, if carried out, would likely doom much of the island’s population to starvation. Since this incident, the people of Mata Nui lived in a tentative state of tension. But such a state cannot last.
50 years after the cataclysm, the villages had finally recovered from the ravages of the cataclysm, their defences repaired, their populations growing, but resources remaining just as scarce. Ko-Koro, having been quiet for years, began rapidly militarising, while the people of Onu-Koro had become even more elusive than usual, retreating into their defensive tunnels. Civil strife in Ga-Koro resulted in the despotic leadership responsible for the poisoning of Po-Wahi being overthrown, leading to unrest and uncertainty across the island, as the other villages waited to see if these new rulers would be better or worse than those that came before them.
Rumours began to spread of strange artefacts being discovered across the island – fragments of broken masks and armour, and shattered tools, all allegedly belonging to the fallen Toa. With increasing frequency, miners and explorers from various regions reported discovering unnatural tunnels or fissures in the earth, sometimes accompanied by sightings of unknown insect-like creatures. Tales of whispering masks and cults devoted to old gods filled the taverns, and stranger still, there were reports from all over the island of Matoran vanishing from their homes, wandering out into the night with unusual Kolhii balls clutched in their hands, never to return…
Of the six Turaga of old, the ones who summoned and misled the Toa, the only Matoran left alive who knew of the old legends and the true threats, only one remained. Matau perished in the incineration of Le-Koro, while Onewa met his end ten years ago at the claws of Nui-Jaga, in the act of hiding one of the Krana in their nest. More recently, Nuju was betrayed by one of his own people, while Nokama was assassinated by agents of Makuta during a riot in Ga-Koro. Vakama was imprisoned and tortured to the point of insanity by the demented ruler of Ta-Koro, leaving only Whenua to safeguard the secrets of ancient times.
But secrets can never stay hidden forever. In time, fragments of the truth began to come to light, but too little, too late, to prevent calamity.
During this time of crisis, a great many events of significance transpired. Discoveries were made, ancient powers were harnessed, civil wars were fought, and lives – both innocent and guilty – were lost. Following the slew of disasters, remaining Krana were uncovered, and the Bohrok were either enslaved or retreated back into hiding. For several months, an uncertain peace held sway over Mata Nui… until the Gahlok attacked en-masse. New Le-Koro was swept away in a matter of hours, and the settlers were forced to once again relocate.
Soon after the Gahlok attack, attacks from other Bohrok began to occur with ever-increasing frequency. Land travel become more and more difficult, exacerbating tensions that were already near breaking point. Thanks to their force of enslaved Kohrak, Po-Koro was no longer dependent on Ga-Koro for water or protection, but wielding the power of diplomacy, they remained on amiable terms with their neighbour, working together to tend and the fields of crops that still supplied food to much of the rest of the island.
While Po-Koro attempted to extend the hand of friendship to Onu-Koro, the underground village refused to accept their help, citing Po-Koro’s friendly relationship with Ga-Koro as a cause for concern. While no culprit had ever been confirmed for the poisoning of Onu-Koro, there was little doubt in anyone’s mind that the poison had originally come from Ga-Wahi, leaving a lingering animosity between the regions.
With Onu-Koro too focused on rebuilding their own stability to honour their previous alliance, Ko-Koro was left largely isolated. They remained justifiably distrustful of Ta-Koro, who was equally isolated, and equally suspicious of their icy neighbours. While it was public knowledge that the madwoman Elittra had been driven away from Ta-Koro, the atrocities that she’d committed had also become commonly known across the island, leaving many to wonder how such crimes had been allowed to continue for so long, and whether the people of Ta-Koro had secretly supported their leader’s barbarism.
And so, the stage seemed to be set for the next phase of Mata Nui’s history – the militarily mighty villages of Ta and Ko Koro stood alone, and apart, while Onu-Koro retreated into seclusion, and the fallen masters of Ga-Koro worked alongside the former slaves of Po-Koro… all as the Bohrok steadily grew in strength and number, gradually reducing the island to a barren, uninhabitable wasteland.
Everything changed with the unexpected arrival of massive arks on the shores of Mata Nui, similar to the ones that had previously been glimpsed near the site of New Le-Koro. These immense vessels bore Matoran hailing from elements the likes of which had never been seen on Mata Nui before. The newcomers claimed to be fleeing from a war that had ravaged their distant homeland, pleading for asylum on Mata Nui, the first habitable island they’d encountered in over four years of voyaging.
Reluctantly, the disparate villages of the island accepted these new arrivals into their midst, the integration serving to break down some of the long-held social boundaries that had held sway over the island. No longer was a village’s citizenship exclusive to Matoran of a lone element. Now, anyone could make anywhere their home. Some of the more conservative, elitist Matoran swore to preserve their perceived purity, and attempted to construct villages of their own elsewhere to the island. But without the numbers and defences of the major villages, these smaller settlements were soon swept away by the Bohrok swarms.
One new village did, however, manage to assert itself. Kra-Koro, the city of the Makuta-worshippers, built on and around the ruins of what had once been the temple of Kini-Nui. From this new stronghold, the self-proclaimed Turaga Tuyet began to preach her promise of salvation – if Makuta could be revived, Mata-Nui could be reawakened, and the Bohrok Queens could be vanquished.
Wary of the old legends of Makuta, and rumours of thefts and murders that had been committed by Tuyet and her followers, many dismissed her claims as the ramblings of a madwoman. But as resources grow scarcer, the Bohrok increase in number, and the island drifts ever closer to disaster, madness may be the only way forward…