One Short Day
According to legend, when the universe was young, Mata Nui summoned his chosen Turaga to Kia Nui to build a kingdom for Matoran to live freely in peace. The Turaga and the Matoran who followed them sailed up the island’s great river until they nearly reached its source. Here, at the center of the island, they built a magnificent citadel, the most ancient, spectacular, and majestic landmark in Kia Nui, at the center of what would become Eri, the island’s capital city.
From the city’s gates, Veelix glimpsed his destination, the spire of this citadel. The palaces and towers around the citadel were so impressive that they rivaled the citadel and threatened to overwhelm Veelix’s senses. An arch thirty feet high, inscribed with the names and reliefs of Toa that had lived in Kia Nui marked each entrance to the walled city. These arches were relatively new, erected after the city had grown far beyond its original boundaries.
The citadel was built on an island situated between the northern and southern sectors of the city on the corresponding shores of the river. Each side of the city mirrored the other across the river, each with a circular plaza from which the major streets of the city extended. Towers that housed Matoran and served as hubs of business lined the roads. In previous times, the Matoran in these buildings made decisions that had repercussions across the continent, though their influence had become localized in recent times.
Near the center of the city were the grandest buildings, many dating back to the Barraki War and others to founding of Kia Nui itself. The center of the city was home to magnificent palaces with high walls and rectangular bell towers where the island’s Toa and Turaga lived. Across from the citadel on the northern shore was a fortified palace that now belonged to the leader of the Toa Army, the name still used for the vestige of the once great company of Toa that defended Kia Nui. While there had been hundreds of Toa on this island in ancient times, only a few dozen now remained. To the south was the island’s largest temple, over which Arconis, the leader of the Turaga, presided.
The two Matoran walked through the city, passing more Matoran in the streets than Veelix had seen in his entire life. Near the banks of the river, they passed through a marble plaza brimming with Matoran, at the center of which was a sparkling fountain. In the center of the pool was a ring of Toa facing outward, silver liquid protodermis flowing from their tools. Both the sculpture and much of the citadel were made from crystalline protodermis, which could only be crafted by six Toa. From this vantage point, the port that lined the city on both sides of the river was in view, bustling with activity.
Veelix and Ludin followed the road toward the river and crossed one of Eri’s bridges. The island in the river with its citadel reminded Veelix of Ta-Kia. He felt a twinge of homesickness, which surprised him, for he had no happy memories of that place. Perhaps he realized that now there was no going back, and Ta-Kia had provided certainty in the face of the unknown. It would be here, in this city ancient yet modern city, where Veelix would confront the unknown and discover his future.
As he crossed the bridge, Veelix could see the citadel in its entirety. Gleaming crystal fortifications ringed the small island, guarding a central keep with a tower that rose above the rest of the city. Four towers rose from the corners of the outer walls, each capped with a refulgent white flame. Atop the central tower was a statue of an armored figure, its face bare of any mask and its arms outstretched to its sides, watching over Kia Nui.
Seven Matoran guarded the citadel’s marble doors, each holding a spear and wearing ceremonial garb much like the Turaga, a mark of their distinction. Each represented one of the seven Turaga who first came to Kia Nui, of whom only Arconis was still alive. It was a great honor to be selected for the Tower Guard, yet Veelix imagined it was incredibly dull work.
One of the guards stopped them. “Please state your name and business,” he requested.
Ludin answered first, “My name is Ludin of Eri. I’ve come to receive my next assignment from the Labor Committee.”
After a short pause, Veelix said, “I’m Veelix of Ta-Kia. I’m here to be reassigned.” He produced the tablet Prinkor had given him. “I’m not sure who I should see,” he added hesitantly.
The guard looked at the tablet. “You’ll want the Labor Committee,” he replied. “Just follow your friend here.”
The guard signaled and the ancient doors creaked open, revealing a long entrance hall with a scarlet carpet. Mirrors, paintings, and statues of Toa that who at one time protected Kia Nui lined the walls, illuminated by the soft glow of chandeliers lit with lightstones. Veelix read the names of the Toa as he passed, stopping at one statue and gazing at its mask.
Ludin stopped and walked over to Veelix. “What is it?” he asked.
“This is Toa Jecitus,” Veelix replied, his eyes remaining fixed on the statue’s mask. “He was the founder of Ta-Kia. As long as I can remember, I have heard legends about him from the Turaga.”
“Every Matoran knows the hero of the Barraki War,” Ludin replied. “What about him?”
“I’ve always looked up to him,” Veelix continued. “You could say he was something of a hero to me, but I never had any idea what he looked like. It’s strange being able to put a mask to the name, even though I never imagined he looked quite like this.”
“Don’t you think knowing what he looked like makes him seem more real?” Ludin asked.
“It takes away some of his majesty,” Veelix said. “But you’re right, it’s better this way. I should appreciate Jecitus for who he was, not who I want him to be.”
They left the statue and walked through another set of doors into the atrium. Columns and busts of figures with Noble Masks lined the grand room, filled with Matoran conversing and waiting to visit the committee they had come to see. Beyond the doors at the far end of the hall was a courtyard at the center of the palace.
Ludin explained the various committees of Turaga as he led Veelix down the hall. Veelix struggled to pay attention as he gazed at the numerous works of art in the tall room. Even the most important rooms in Ta-Kia, such as the fortress and the temple, were austere, displaying little artwork, bright colors, or other worldly distractions. The elaborate features of the atrium inundated Veelix’s senses, leaving him unable to possibly absorb every detail.
Ludin led Veelix into a comparatively plain room with wood panels and arched windows, furnished merely with a painting on the far wall. Rows of chairs faced a wooden table, behind which five Turaga were seated. The one in the center appeared to be the committee chair, for a wooden gavel rested on the desk next to her neatly folded hands. The Turaga to her left was currently speaking, looking at the room over stone tablet, while a Turaga on the other end of the table was struggling to remain awake. A Matoran by the door ushered Veelix and Ludin to the chairs facing the table where several Matoran were already seated, and took their names, which were delivered to a Matoran scribbling furiously at a desk to the left of the Turaga.
The committee had already begun its business, currently dealing with several Po-Matoran who were being commissioned to build a statue in Ba-Kia. Ludin whispered everything Veelix needed to know, though Veelix doubted he would remember anything he had heard.
The tap of a gavel startled Veelix out of his thoughts. The group of Po-Matoran sat down and the clerk called Ludin’s name. He approached the podium before the Turaga, who asked him to verify his name and residence and to give truthful testimony. Ludin quickly recited the oath to be truthful as if he had it memorized.
“For what reason do you come before the Labor Committee?” asked the Turaga sitting in at the center of the table. She wore blue armor, but as Veelix was unable to recall ever meeting a female Matoran or Turaga, he was unsure which element she represented.
“I’ve completed my assignment to design and lead construction of Po-Kia’s newest apartments, as instructed by this committee,” Ludin replied. “I now come before the committee to request my next assignment.”
A Turaga with black armor who sat next to the female Turaga began to speak. “The Onu-Kia Museum is looking to create a new exhibit about the island’s Toa,” he said in a deep voice. “You will meet with the curator in Onu-Kia to design a new building to house the exhibit and then bring the drafts back to this committee for approval. Unless there is a compelling reason which would prevent you from fulfilling this occupation, I move to have the Matoran reassigned to Onu-Kia.”
“Is there an objection?” the blue Turaga asked, as if reading from a script. There was a brief pause. “Without objection, so ordered.” She struck the gavel and Ludin sat down. “The chair calls Veelix of Ta-Kia.”
Hearing his name called, Veelix walked up to the podium with his release tablet. As he did, he realized he had already forgotten everything Ludin had told him to say. As with Ludin, the Turaga asked him to verify his name and residence and to recite an oath swearing that his testimony was true. While Veelix was unsure what he could possibly lie about, the stiff penalties for deceiving Turaga of the Unified Government made him unnecessarily nervous.
“For what reason do you come before the Labor Committee?” the Turaga asked.
Veelix cleared his throat. “I requested a reassignment from Prinkor, the Turaga of Ta-Kia,” he explained. “I’d like a new position in a different city.”
He handed the release tablet to the blue Turaga, who looked at it for a long moment. The silence was agonizing. “Why do you require reassignment?” she asked.
“There were no positions that suited me in Ta-Kia,” Veelix explained, feeling less sure of himself than before. “My Turaga suggested that I seek reassignment in Eri.”
The Turaga nodded and asked, “What do you have in mind?”
Veelix thought for a moment. “I like learning,” he offered.
“Perhaps you might enjoy an assignment in the monasteries of Ko-Kia,” suggested a white Turaga to Veelix’s left.
“I don’t see how I could stay in one place for so long,” Veelix muttered. “I want a job that would allow me to travel.”
“There are no positions with the parameters who have requested,” the Turaga of Earth informed him.
“Actually, there is one,” said the blue Turaga. “Veelix, do you have any interest in history?”
As Veelix replied in the affirmative, the light of recognition entered the other Turaga’s eyes, and several of them sat up straighter in their chairs.
“It is absurd for you to even make such a suggestion,” the white Turaga said. “No one has held that position for almost 70,000 years.”
“For good reason,” warned the Turaga next to him. “We all know why traveling this road would be folly.”
Veelix had no idea what the Turaga were talking about or how a position involving history could trigger such a strong reaction. He glanced back at Ludin who seemed just as perplexed.
“Perhaps it is time that we reinstate that position,” the female Turaga suggested. “What kind of occupation would be ideal for you, Veelix?”
“I’d like to be able to travel, perhaps meet new Matoran,” Veelix said.
“You already said that,” the blue Turaga interrupted. “I am asking you what it is, fundamentally, that you want to do.”
Veelix thought for a moment. “I want my life to have meaning,” he finally said. “I’ve spent the last thousands of years doing insignificant work that has left me feeling empty and useless. My body is tired, but my mind yearns for something to live for.”
The Turaga looked directly at Veelix. “I can offer you a position that will allow you to travel, provide you with unparalleled access to information, and offer you a clear purpose. Do you wish to submit yourself for consideration?”
“I have no idea what you’re asking me to do,” Veelix admitted. “Can you tell me more about this position?”
“I’m afraid not,” the Turaga replied. “However, I believe that you are a suitable candidate. We need your answer now before we can proceed.”
Veelix felt ten eyes peering at him as he wondered what he was getting himself into. He was taking a significant risk that this new position would be worse than his previous ones, but he had little choice. Only the continuation of his monotonous life worried him more than the unknown. He replied in the affirmative.
“In that case, I move to defer this decision to the Grand Council.”
“I object,” the Turaga at the far right of the table said forcefully. “We should hold a vote on a manner of such importance.”
“Very well,” replied the blue Turaga. “We shall vote individually, starting with my friend from Ko-Kia and moving down the table.”
The Turaga who had objected voted no, as did the white Turaga. Naturally the committee chair voted in favor, as did the Turaga of Earth to her left, leaving the last Turaga to break the tie. He had said nothing yet, but he had been studying Veelix ever since the chair had made her suggestion. He continued to watch Veelix for another moment until he finally cast his vote.
The final Turaga cleared his throat. “Yes.” Veelix couldn’t help but smile, though he had no idea what he had agree to.
The blue Turaga spoke again, “With a vote of three in favor and two opposed, the decision of Veelix of Ta-Kia’s appointment is deferred to the Grand Council. The clerk shall submit a formal request to the Chancellor to call the Grand Council into special session.” She tapped the gavel on the table and turned to Veelix. “You are dismissed, until which time the Grand Council requests your presence.”
Veelix and Ludin sat in the courtyard just beyond the atrium while he waited for the Grand Council to summon him. The majesty of the garden, with its streams, statues, and variety of exotic plants was impressive, but Veelix found himself unable to look at anything other than the central keep, a grand tower which he would soon be entering.
“Do you have any idea what’s happening?” Veelix asked Ludin.
“Nope,” he replied, he feet up on a chair. “I’m just as confused as you are. Still you’re either lucky to go before the Grand Council or very unlucky. I guess we’ll find out.”
Veelix nodded, though Ludin was doing nothing to make him less nervous. “When do you leave for Onu-Kia?”
“I’m required by law to set out within a day of being assigned,” Ludin replied. “I want to stick around to find out what your new position is, but after that I’ll probably be on the next boat to Onu-Kia”
“Are you allowed to sit in on my hearing?” Veelix asked.
“Of course,” Ludin replied. “Formal sessions are open to the public, but I’ve never been here when the Council meets. It leaves most of the routine business to its committees.”
“When do you think they’ll start?” Veelix asked.
“I’d guess that they’ve already started,” Ludin replied. “The Turaga will probably discuss this amongst themselves before they officially begin. From what I’m told, most of their decisions are made behind closed doors. You might as well relax, because we might be here for a while.”
Veelix could not relax, and feeling restless, he stood up and wandered around the courtyard, glancing at the statues in the garden but not looking at any of them with much care. However, there was one statue that did catch his eye, which he stopped to get a better look at.
Three figures stood on a platform, their relative heights suggesting that one was a Toa, one a Matoran, and one a Turaga. The Toa’s armor was stylized, though he clearly bore a Mask of Charisma. His posture was commanding and his hand stretched out toward some unknown object in the distance upon which his eyes seemed fixed as if he were unaware of the two figures near him.
The unadorned Matoran stood at the Toa’s feet, dwarfed by his presence. A look of admiration was etched into his Mask of Diminishment that gazed up at the Toa, his mouth open slightly in awe. The Turaga behind the Toa stood to his left, his hands resting on his staff. Unlike the Toa’s highly stylized form, this figure, carved in intricate detail, was incredibly detailed and lifelike. The figure’s posture was better than most Turaga’s, and his eyes were focused on the Matoran from behind a Noble Mask of Strength.
Veelix read the inscription at the base of statue, “Security, Service, and Order. Dedicated to the people of Kia Nui to be held in public trust in recognition of the establishment of the Unified Government, 20,500 AF.” The sculptor’s name was not given nor indication that the figures represented anyone specific, though the striking detail of the Turaga led Veelix to wonder if the sculptor had one of them in mind.
A guard approached Veelix. “The Grand Council has requested your presence,” he informed him. “Please follow me.”
The guard escorted them into the keep and through a hall that ended in a great staircase. They marched up several stories, passing a door with a sign that read “No Admittance,” before stopping at the landing two floors above it.
The guard turned to Ludin. “You must watch from the gallery,” he said. “You may proceed up to the next level to see the proceedings.”
Ludin wished his friend luck and climbed up the stairs. Veelix felt a sense of panic as he watched him disappear. He would be truly alone now. The guard opened the two wooden doors, and Veelix entered the Grand Council chamber.
The chamber was more magnificent than any of the prior rooms Veelix had visited. The walls were lined with marble columns, famous paintings, and stained glass windows that illuminated the chamber without the need for artificial light. Several rows of chairs were arranged in a semicircle with red upholstery to match the crimson carpet. The guard led Veelix down the central isle toward the well of the chamber. Behind a podium was a wooden desk and an ornate golden chair, above which was a red and gold curtain that formed a canopy and a sculpture of a Kahu clutching an orb in its talons.
As Veelix sat down in a small chair to the right of the podium, a Matoran emerged from the back door carrying a gold ceremonial mace, which he placed upright in a pedestal near the desk. The Turaga followed him into the room and took their seats, each silently probing Veelix with their eyes as they passed.
When all had arrived, the Matoran announced, “All rise for Arconis, Sovereign of Kia Nui, Turaga Regnant of Eri, and Chancellor of the Grand Council.”
The ancient Turaga slowly entered through the back door. The light glittered off his white and silver armor, casting an aura that the other Turaga did not possess. He bore a Noble Mask of Shielding, the symbol of Mata Nui, and a white staff with a spherical lightstone set at its head with three spokes radiating from the center like the rays of the sun. He seated himself in the golden chair and gripped the gavel, his hand shaking slightly.
“The Grand Council will be in order,” he announced, gently tapping the gavel on the desk. The Turaga took their seats. “The Grand Council has been called into special session to deliberate the case of Veelix of Ta-Kia. The chair recognizes the Turaga from Eri.”
The chair of the Labor Committee stood up and took the podium facing the audience. “Thank you, Chancellor,” she said. “Pursuant to Rule 28, Section 1 of the Standing Rules of the Grand Council, the Labor Committee has the authority to make all appointments to occupations both in the city of Eri and among the several kia. There is but one exception, a position that pursuant to the Historical Records Act of 20,500 AF can only be granted by the Grand Council on the recommendation of the Labor Committee. As the chair of that committee, I would like to formally present the Labor Committee’s recommendation that the Grand Council appoint Veelix of Ta-Kia to the position of Chronicler of Kia Nui.”
A murmur went through the gallery, yet the assembled Turaga remained silent. Although the Turaga at the podium was still speaking, the eyes of the other Turaga were fixed not on her but on Veelix. Unsure what to think, Veelix tried to keep his expression neutral as he pondered the ramifications of what he had heard.
“My fellow Turaga, earlier this morning, we came upon a strange occurrence in a routine hearing of the Labor Committee,” the Turaga continued. “The Matoran in question requested a reassignment, not an altogether rare event, but he was unsure of an occupation that could provide a suitable replacement. His criteria were challenging to meet, but they convinced me that he possessed a sharp mind, a desire for knowledge, and the curiosity necessary to be a successful Chronicler.”
She continued for a several minutes, though Veelix was later able to remember little of what she had said, his attention focused on the dramatic change this event could have on his life. After the Turaga finished, Arconis opened the floor for questions.
“When this government was formed, it decided that a Chronicler is unnecessary,” asked the first Turaga. “What has changed your thinking on this matter?”
“Onu-Matoran have requested the reinstatement of this position before, and we currently lag behind other islands that already have Chroniclers. The Historical Records Act leaves open the possibility of appointed a new Chronicler, an act which I believe the Turaga voted in favor of.”
“What benefit do you believe a Chronicler will provide?” asked another.
“As I stated before, Kia Nui’s rich history must be preserved and protected. A Chronicler will be able to record history as it happens across the island in a way that the archivists in Onu-Kia cannot.”
Several more Turaga posed questions until one asked, “Why now? The island has been prosperous for tens of millennia without a Chronicler. Why should the Grand Council reverse its course at this time?”
The blue Turaga hesitated for a moment before replying, “We have survived these many thousands of years without plague, without war, without famine. Little hardship has come upon us in that time, and the concerns of the previous ages have become immaterial. Yet while we have survived, we cannot forget that which makes us Matoran, that which makes us not merely alive but sentient. As for why at this moment in time, the best candidate has just now appeared. Perhaps you should judge him for yourself before you make your decision. I yield the floor to Veelix of Ta-Kia.”
The Turaga took her seat and Arconis called Veelix to the podium. His heart began to pound as the inquisitive Turaga assaulted him with questions.
“The Grand Council has reviewed your records,” the first stated, though Veelix was unaware that such records existed and wondered what they contained. “Why should the Grand Council appoint you to be Chronicler?”
Veelix was unsure how to respond to that question. He thought for a moment before replying, “I only just found out what position I’m being considered for, and it is not one that I asked for. Over the past few days, I’ve traveled across half the island and seen more of Kia Nui on that journey than in my entire life and learned so much on the way. Being Chronicler would allow me to explore this great island with a purpose, one that would allow me to give something back to my fellow Matoran.”
“That explains why you want to be Chronicler, but not why you should be,” another Turaga commented. “Why should we select you and not another more qualified Matoran?”
“I’ll be motivated,” said Veelix. “More than any Matoran I know, I want to do this. That drive will lead me to put in more effort than I have in any previous job I’ve had.”
The questions proceed in a similar fashion for another hour until Arconis announced that time for questions had elapsed and directed Veelix to face his desk so he could speak to him directly. The Turaga had not spoken yet in the proceedings, having merely directed the flow of questions dispassionately.
“There comes a time in all our lives when we look upon our past with critical judgment,” he said, addressing Veelix specifically. “We have now engaged in a public reflection on your life, and I wish to know what it has illuminated for you.”
Veelix was unsure what Arconis was asking. “Are you asking me what I’ve learned about myself?”
“I want you to consider your life for a moment,” Arconis replied. “What has been the purpose of your life?”
“Frankly, I haven’t been sure,” Veelix admitted. “I thought making masks would best serve the Matoran of Kia Nui, but it is a pointless job, as was crafting tools. I’ve questioned the meaning of my life from the purpose of my job to my purpose in the universe. As I think more and more about the position of Chronicler, I understand that this is what I was meant to do.”
“Reflection is a key skill,” Arconis replied. “The search for meaning is innate in our being, and it will be fundamental to your task ahead. Collecting the facts is easy, but reflecting on them, interpreting them, understanding their meaning—that is the challenge. Bear in mind that if you receive this position, you could be reassigned at any time.”
“Very well,” said Arconis. “The Chancellor asks for unanimous consent to appoint Veelix of Ta-Kia to the position of Chronicler, effective immediately.” There was a pause as some Turaga shifted uncomfortably. The questioning had made clear that several Turaga opposed Veelix’s appointment, perhaps even a majority, yet instead of calling a vote, Arconis asked for them to agree unanimously, a motion that required only a single Turaga to object to trigger a vote that could spell the end of Veelix’s newfound dream. Despite the simplicity of the objection required, not a single Turaga wanted to be the one who stood up to oppose Arconis without the shield of safety in numbers.
“Without objection, so ordered,” Arconis announced after a moment’s silence. “Chronicler, you are dismissed.” The gavel struck the desk and the Grand Council’s will was made law.