Chroniclers' Spirit: Takua and Hahli
The young girl picked one last cowrie shell out of the white sand, placed it in her pack, and headed for the surface of the sea. She climbed onto a floating platform formed by a living niipa plant, and shook herself dry. A nineteen-year-old native of Ga-koro, she wore a translucent blue Mask of Water Breathing over her face, and plain, undyed clothes under her armor. Her golden-brown hair was neatly braided and her eyes looked by turns green or blue, or a mix of both.
“Hahli!” a sweet, clear voice called. “Oh, Haaaaaahliiii!”
The teenager smiled to herself, recognizing her cousin’s voice. Then, she heard another familiar voice and her smile vanished. Kongu had come, too. Suppressing a sigh, she reluctantly walked towards the sound.
“There you are!” Sashaya, her cousin, cried. Her face was shining with happiness, a look that all but broke Hahli’s heart.
“We quicksped to bring you some fresh fruit, now that Kal darktime is pastgone.” Kongu added, holding an enormous basket loaded with the produce of Le-koro, “And Sashaya has some talenews for you, and mother.”
“What news?” Hahli asked, understanding only the general idea of Kongu’s treespeak.
Sashaya smiled, a little shyly. “I’d like to tell you and mom at the same time. Where is she?”
“In the hut, working, I think.” Hahli indicated the family home.
“Then quickspeed!” Kongu laughed. “It’s such happygood, I can’t patientwait much longer!”
The village flaxmaker, Amaya, appeared at the door of her hut, hearing her daughter’s voice. “Sashaya?”
“Hi, mom.” The pretty young woman hurried over to give her parent a hug.
“And Kongu, welcome back.” Amaya added, looking past Sashaya to her son-in-law. “It’s been a while.”
“Well, with the Kal-bugs on the looserun, I wanted to safekeep my lovely bride.” Kongu explained, giving Amaya a hug as well.
“As well you should.” the older woman smiled.
“Oh, mom, I have to tell you,” Sashaya burst in impatiently. “I’m going to have a baby!”
Tears started to Amaya’s eyes. “I guess my little baby isn’t so little anymore. I’m so happy for you, sweetie.”
“That’s great, Sashaya.” Hahli added, genuine joy in her face.
“Isn’t it?” Kongu nodded. “I’m gonna be the happyproudest dad on the whole island.”
Amaya wiped her happy tears away. “Well, come inside, and we’ll talk about it, and have some tea. Hahli, will you get some oysters, please?”
“Sure, Aunt Amaya.” She gave her cousin a quick, gentle hug, then ran off, determined that Sashaya would have everything she wanted while she was here.
* * *
Hahli sat on the edge of a platform, dangling her legs in the sea. It was eight... no, nine months, since her cousin had married Kongu, the Captain of the Le-koro Gukko Force. Nine long months. They had met when Kongu had been delivering messages for the Turaga during the Siege of the Tren Krom Pass, and Sashaya instantly fell head-over-heels in love. Hahli, however, had remained shy and silent, disliking Kongu’s noisy, boisterous, though good-natured manners. In less than three months, the two were happily married, just a few short weeks after the Toa’s arrival. When Sashaya moved to Le-koro with her husband, visits had been few and far between, since the Bohrok swarms and the Bohrok-Kal had threatened the island soon after Makuta’s death. But the Toa had just defeated the Kal, and peace had at last come to stay on an island that had been at war for far too long.
A single tear trickled down Hahli’s cheek. The pain of Sashaya leaving her had not healed. He had so many girls he could’ve picked, she thought unhappily, but I only had Sashaya. It’s not fair.
“It’s hard for you, isn’t it, sweetheart?” Amaya asked gently, sitting down next to her niece.
“Very.” Hahli glanced at her aunt. “Why did this have to happen? Why couldn’t Sashaya and I stayed with you forever? Or why couldn’t we have been boys?”
“Well, I for one prefer that you are you, not a boy.” the Komau-clad woman smiled. “and for another, Sashaya is happy as Kongu’s wife. Do you really not want her to have that? If you could, would you have kept her here?”
Hahli sighed. “No.”
“Your turn may come too, little ruki fish.” Amaya said after a moment. “When you find that you are willing to leave everything behind to be with someone. Sashaya knew her moment, and now she’s going to have her own family. Just like the tides, you can only stay on the beach for so long. Someday, you have to go out into the open sea.”
“But what if my turn doesn’t come?” Hahli protested, kicking at the water. “Will I just have to be lonely and hurt forever?”
Amaya frowned, concerned. “No. First of all, you’ve been like a second daughter to me since you were little. I’ll always be here for you, as long as I live. And second, you choose whether or not Sashaya's happiness makes you feel hurt. It can only hurt you as long as you, in your secret heart, say to yourself, ‘I won’t forgive her for leaving me’.”
Hahli started. “I’m not mad at her! I’m mad at Kongu!”
“Are you? Really?” Amaya answered, standing up. “I’ll see you at suppertime.”
Hahli angrily splashed the water with her feet. I’m not mad at Sashaya. I’m can’t be.
* * *
Over the next few days, Hahli turned the conversation over in her mind. At last, she had to admit, it was Sashaya she was angry with. Angry for leaving her alone... angry for finding a new best friend so quickly... and angry for simply being happy, while she was sad.
And that’s not fair of me, Hahli told herself. Why should I be upset, if I really care about her? If I want what’s best for her, not for me, I should be happy she and Kongu ever found each other.
On the island of Mata-Nui, marriages between villages were rare, because of the dangers of traveling. Or at least, they had been rare, until the Toa had come. There were six of them - Tahu, Lewa, Gali, Onua, Pohatu, and Kopaka. The Turaga said that they had been sent by the Great Spirit Mata Nui himself, for whom the island was named. They had arrived with no knowledge of the past, or each other; only their names, and questions. Ga-koro’s protector, Gali, was the only female Toa, and the matoran of her village had loved her from the start. She was kind and gentle, ready to help with even their smallest problems. She made a point of learning her people’s names and families, which made her seem not so much a great heroine as a friend. One of the few Toa who pitied even Makuta’s slaves, she still did not hesitate to risk her life to stop them.
Makuta. Hahli thought, shuddering. If the Toa hadn’t come, we might all be his slaves now.
The Great Spirit’s own brother, Makuta was as evil as Mata Nui was good. When Mata Nui had guided the matoran to the island and given it to them for their home, Makuta’s jealousy finally came to light. He betrayed his brother, throwing him into a deep slumber from which only the Toa could awaken him. He had then plagued the island with his Rahi - wild creatures under his control, because of the infected masks they wore. For nearly a thousand years, they had attacked the villages and killed matoran, keeping communication between villages risky and travel downright deadly. But that dark time was over; the Toa had defeated him. Killed him, really; who could live, after being blasted into a thousand fragments?
And now, we get to celebrate another victory, Hahli smiled. And I’ll finally get to see the other Toa, and talk to Sashaya's friends from Le-koro. And maybe the Chronicler will tell some of the stories of the Kal.
“Hahli! Snap out of it!” a young man laughed.
She shook herself and turned to her friend. “Sorry, Pelagia. I was just... remembering.”
“Well, can you remember while we load the boats?” he grinned. “This stuff won’t get to Kini-Nui on it’s own, ya know!”
“Right.” she smiled, tossing another sack into the hold. In honor of the Toa’s latest deeds, the Turaga had declared a celebration would be held at Kini-Nui, the great memorial to Mata-Nui in the very center of the island. All the villages would come for the two days of games, food and parties. The Ga-matoran planned to sail from their floating village in the Naho Bay, up the Kaligi River to the lush valley of Kini-Nui. All the matoran were busily packing a few last supplies into the boats, and she was supposed to be helping, not reminiscing.
As soon as the last bags were thrown onboard, the Ga-matoran all leaped easily into their canoes. The long boats made of Wakiki palm wood had tall masts in the center, covered by flaxen sails, but the wind would not serve their course today, so all those who could took an oar.
“Pull out!” came the command from the helmsman in the back of the canoe. Accordingly, the rows of canoes pulled away from the docks and began sweeping into the open water. While the wind might not be suitable for the larger craft, it worked well for Hahli and a few other young matoran who were on sailboards - small, light wooden surfboards with swingable sails attached - darting in and out of the bigger boats, and riding the waves.
In the lead boat, Toa Gali sat talking to Turaga Nokama, the leader of Ga-koro. Without warning, the Toa used her Mask of Levitation to rise up out of the boat, then dove into the water, easily keeping pace with the canoes, and returning a few splashes from her more daring villagers. Using her elemental powers, she summoned a current to help the rowers.
Hahli glanced around. Everyone was laughing and happy, talking and singing. Peace, at long last, reigned in her home.
* * *
She tied her sailboard down and stretched her arms. Four straight hours of sailing was something she enjoyed with her whole heart. But the sight before her was more than enough to make her glad that it was over. In front of the huge stone temple was a large clearing, covered in grass as soft as the finest feathers. A stream ran off the nearby slopes of Mount Ihu, flowing through the temple, and down through the field before joining the river on its journey to the sea. Huge trees surrounded the meadow, giving shade and fruit. Several dozen tents were already set up on the other side of the field; from the pale blue snowflakes embroidered on the white cloth, Hahli knew them to belong to the Ko-matoran, the people of ice.
The Ga-matoran moored their boats and scrambled up the bank of the river, which was somewhat steep. Some passed bundles of food and supplies to those on shore, and others began setting up their own camp. A few of the Ko-matoran came over, and after brief greetings, began helping the blue-armored matoran of Ga-koro unpack.
As they began setting up bamboo poles for tents and huts, the sound of briskly marching feet was heard from the south. A spurt of flames above the trees confirmed that the Ta-matoran had arrived, and Toa Tahu was with them. Hahli glanced over at the line of red, yellow and fire-orange villagers emerging from the trees. Even at this distance, she easily spotted the blue-masked Chronicler walking in the front.
Takua never seemed to quite fit into any of the six villages. He was always accepted, yes, even welcomed, but somehow always different. His blue mask was like the Ga-matoran, but his red body, arm and leg armor matched the fire village. Mentally, he took parts from all six of the elements: he was playful and impulsive, like the Le-matoran; the same wistful curiosity as the water-villagers; direct and friendly, like the Po-matoran; a truth-seeker, like the Onu-matoran; fearless as any Ta-matoran, and thoughtful, like the people of ice. Of course, he also carried some of the faults of the villagers, too: he was somewhat lazy and talkative, a little too blunt sometimes, and perhaps too curious for his own good. But he was most noted for his ability to tell stories. Even the most stoic of the Ko-matoran seemed bewitched by his vivid tales, and he never tired of telling them. Even now, he was probably telling a story, as the Ta-matoran all set up their tents in picture-perfect rows, under the supervision of Jala, the Right Hand of Turaga Vakama, and Captain of the Ta-koro Guard.
The Le-matoran arrived later in the morning, flying in on their huge gukko birds and playfully pelting each other and the camp below with over-ripe fruit. The Onu-matoran came marching out of their tunnels near midday, humming a low song of the mines. Just in time for the last meal of the day, Pohatu, Toa Nuva of Stone, sped into the clearing, carrying two Po-matoran on his shoulders. The rest of the Po-koro caravan trotted behind him on maha; the goat-like animals bleated loudly and seemed to think that the party was all in their honor.
Hahli and Sashaya, who had never been apart since the Le-matoran had landed, finished cooking the food they would share with everyone, and went to try some of the dishes from the other villages. Some seemed quite odd, and others, downright disgusting.
“Yuck!” Hahli whispered, spitting a mushroom into the safety of a bush. “Tastes a a sea sponge rolled in dirt.”
“Here, try this. No way mangoes taste like dirty sponges.” Sashaya laughed, placing one on her cousin’s wooden plate. “And don’t try any of the Ta-matoran food. I found out the hard way they like things really spicy.”
“This isn’t bad.” Hahli commented, indicating a juicy piece of meat on her plate. “What is it?”
“I think it’s volo deer.” She tried a tiny bite and made a face. “Ugh; definitely volo.”
“You don’t like it?” a merry voice asked from behind them. Both girls jumped in surprise and turned to see Kongu and Takua, grins on their faces.
“I don’t like to think about cute deer getting killed.” Sashaya replied, a little loftily.
“I’ll gladly eat your share for you.” Takua laughed. “So you must be--”
“My wife, Sashaya. My sister, Hahli.” Kongu finished. “Sashaya, at longlast, you get to seemeet my brotherfriend, Takua.”
The Ta-matoran bowed playfully.
“You see, Takua was supposed to be childborn a Le-matoran, but he got swapmixed with someone else. Stopended up in Ta-koro, poor guy.” Kongu joked. He handed his wife an orange, knowing it to be her favorite fruit. She rewarded him with a smile that would have melted a takea shark’s heart, if such a thing were possible.
Hahli felt her heart sink again. No, no, she told herself. I promised I would learn to be happy for her. To mask her feelings, she forced herself to do something entirely out of character: she turned to Takua and began a conversation. “I heard your story about the trap the Toa made for the Tahnok-Kal. It was really great.”
Takua smiled. “Thanks, but I can’t really take any credit for it. First of all, the Toa did all the work, and second, I don’t write the stories; they write themselves.”
“Huh?” Hahli frowned.
“Well, I mean...” he bit his lip, thinking. “I’ve tried explaining it to other people, but they don’t get it. Do you understand what I mean when I say that words aren’t just words? People don’t always have to talk for words to be there; they just are... they exist, and always will.”
She looked down shyly. “I kinda get it.”
He shook his head impatiently. “Words, written and spoken, are what set matoran apart from rahi. They communicate in grunts and growls and squeaks, and they only have instinct. But we have emotion and logic, and the words to express them. But we didn’t create words; we were given them by Mata Nui. They exist outside of us. Get it?”
Hahli considered. “Yeah; it's like they have a life of their own?”
"Exactly." Takua smiled. “Words are a tool and a weapon, just as much as swords and spears are. But words cut more deeply, and heal better than anything else can. They’re metaphysical.” He saw the confusion on her face and added, “They’re not something you can touch, but that doesn’t mean they don’t exist.”
“Yes.” Her Kaukau now wore a smile, too. “I think I get it. But it sounds kind of silly when I say it.”
He laughed. “Just because no one else understands it? That doesn't make it silly; it’s just what is. Catch my drift?”
“I think I do.” She cocked her head to one side thoughtfully.
“Then maybe you’re a storyteller, too.” he commented, glancing around at all the assembled matoran. Some had already finished eating and were back to playing games and sports. Several couples had begun a lively dance, to the tune of a band of matoran from all six villages. “Hey, do you like dancing?” he asked suddenly.
Taken by surprise, she answered honestly. “Yeah.”
“Then come on.” He took her hand and led her into the cleared lawn. “I asked Nixie to save one for me, but she’s so tired from all the nights she’s been stargazing recently, she’s just going to go to sleep early. Pity; she’ll miss the fireworks.”
A moment later, to her own astonishment, Takua pulled her into the line of dancers. As an added surprise, she remembered the lessons her aunt had given her and managed to perform the right steps. As they whirled around with the other matoran, she gathered her courage and spoke.
“So, you like Nixie?”
Takua’s blue mask flushed red. “Um, well, it’s kinda... ok, yeah, I like her. Just don’t tell Kongu. I’ll never live it down.”
Hahli laughed. “She’s really nice. I wish you luck.”
“Thanks.” He was silent for a moment. “You know, if I told most of the girls in Ta-koro I liked someone else while I was dancing with them, they wouldn’t take it so well. How come you do?”
She frowned. “Why would I be upset? I like Nixie, and you’re a hero. I think you’d be great together.”
He laughed. “Ok, we’re going to be pals.”
Hahli focused her energies on the dance, feeling the movements and trying to remember all the steps. It’s like a river, she remembered her aunt saying. There are strong currents and soft eddies, but they always keep flowing towards the same place. A dance is just another stream to be traveled. Keeping that in mind, she found she was actually having fun. Takua was such an easy, friendly person, that it seemed impossible to be shy around him. When the dance ended, she was breathless, but happy.
“Thanks, Chronicler. That was fun.”
He grinned. “Hey, if we’re going to be friends, you have to call me Takua. And thanks for being so nice while stepping on my feet.”
Before she could even blush, a horn sounded, signaling the beginning of a kohlii game somewhere in the field. As the call ceased, a voice could be heard yelling, “Taaaaaakuuuuuaaaa!”
“Oops.” The Ta-matoran smacked his forehead. “I was supposed to play in one of the matches!”
“The field isn’t far; maybe you can still make it.” she suggested.
“I’d better, or Jala will throw me into the Mangai.” he groaned. “Come on!”
They ran across the green swath to the stone kohlii field Toa Pohatu had made. Since these games were just for fun, and not the serious tournament, amateurs and veterans alike teamed up and competed. Although there was still some betting done, even on these small games, the atmosphere was much less intense than the Great Games, which were played every six years.
At least, every six until the last seventy years, Hahli thought. When the rahi attacks became really intense, the tournaments were canceled. This is the first year they’ll be played since before I was born.
While the games may not have been serious, the Ta-matoran standing at the south entrance with his arms crossed certainly was.
“We’re up next. I figured you’d be late, so I gave you a few minutes to get here.”
Takua rolled his eyes. “Thanks for yelling my name all over the camp, like I’m a lost maha.”
The other Ta-matoran frowned. “You act like one, so it’s appropriate.” He noticed Hahli and nodded to her politely. “I don’t think we’ve met.”
Hahli flushed and hoped desperately her mask wouldn’t show it. She had instantly recognized him as the great Captain Jala himself, the hero of countless battles all across the island. Her mouth felt dry and her tongue wouldn’t obey her brain. She managed a slight curtsy.
“Hahli, meet my bossy friend, Jala.” Takua grinned. “Jala, my non-bossy-actually-nice friend, Hahli.”
Jala tapped his fingers impatiently. “Nice to meet you, Miss Hahli. Takua, let’s go; we have to be ready when the match starts.”
“You act like it’s a Naming Day ceremony.” Takua grumbled. “Hahli, you wanna wait in the stands until after the game? Me and a couple friends are gonna climb to the top of the temple to watch the fireworks. Kongu said he and Sashaya were coming, too.”
She smiled. “I’d like that. Thanks.”
Jala was practically dragging the Chronicler away, but he managed to tap his fist against hers in the Toa’s gesture of unity and comradeship.
I wonder how he does that, she thought. It's almost like Takua... Understands me.
* * *
Another rocket flew into the air, giving off a high scream as it burst into a million stars, which floated gently back to the ground. Hahli felt her muscles tense as the bang went off and the sparkles rained over the field.
“It’s so beautiful.” Sashaya murmured, sitting in between her cousin and her husband. “I’ve never seen fireworks before.”
“That makes two of us.” Kongu nodded. “The firespitters must be too hardworking to craftmake them often.”
“Yeah.” Takua laughed, giving Kongu a friendly punch in the arm. “I was surprised they even knew how to make something just for fun.”
“Oh, grow up, will you?” Jaller shook his head.
Takua grinned. “So not happening, dude.”
The Captain rolled his eyes and turned his attention back to the new wave of rockets that were rising through the air.
“I wish I knew how they make them.” Hahli whispered to Sashaya. “Then I’d make them for all our birthdays.”
The young woman laughed. “I’ll be happy if you just bring me some fresh oysters for my birthday. All the fruit and plants the Le-matoran eat are delicious, but once in a while, I just want fish again.”
“You’re not happy in Le-koro?” Kongu asked, faking sorrow.
Sashaya only laughed again and kissed him. “You know better.”
Takua whistled sharply. “Too much romance on the field! One-point penalty!”
Hahli laughed. Takua was right - somehow, they were already friends.
Edited by Hahli Historian, Nov 18 2011 - 11:05 PM.