OOC: Rare instance that I evoke the twelve-hour rule
[Temple of Purity; ???]
During this entire time she stood there there stoically, impassionately, without emotion or even movement as she listened to my monologue. There was that single instance where I thought I detected mild surprise, but without visual or audible cues it was impossible to tell. We faced each other, the silence heavy as I waited for her to respond. At long last I got it.
It was the widest grin I had ever seen.
"Well spoken, Noble Toa!" she said, the laughter in her voice like a thousand splashes of water, ringing throughout the chamber. "Only the purest in spirit could come up with an answer like that, and argue it so passionately that I have no choice but to give you what you seek. Behold, Noble Toa, the Crystal of Purity."
She waved her hand, and all four heads gurgled to life, the purest of waters springing forth from their mouths and into the pool below. Beneath her the platform opened up, the dais slowly rising, a light blue gem resting peacefully on its stand. Confidentially I stepped forward and seized it, feeling the smooth, cut stone in my hand. As I marveled at it the specter lowered down to my level.
"Your words are truer than you know. Indeed every living being has a Destiny, a purpose set upon them at the time of their birth and creation. It is this force that guides then, drives them into the future and places unseen. Yet it is not all-encompassing; there is such a thing as free will, and the ability to act upon that. It is not so much that individuals escape, overcome, or somehow evade their destiny; it is simply the choices they made in their life allowed them to drastically alter what it is they were meant to do, either for good or for evil. The same could be said of the Toa Mata - they were destined to fight the Makuta. Yet they did not win, as was prophesied. Was the prophesy wrong? Not necessarily. It is hard to predict the future, Toa, and even harder to take into account free will. The Toa Mata were not defeated because they were destined to, but because of the decisions made by those in that team while they lived. Had different choices been made, there would have been different outcomes. You are one of the few who have grasped this truth and are poised to make the most of it. I pray you do not squander it."
I just stood there, taking in her words, putting to heart the lesson I myself had just taught. I looked up at her in wonder, a faint smile on my lips "Who are you?"
"No one of consequence." was the reply, again dodging the question. Suddenly she bent down, scooping her hand into the water and pulling it out, only this time something small and clear held within. Turning around she handed it to me.
"Your answer has compelled me to give you a parting gift. From these fountains do not flow simply purified water... it is purified protodermis. Within that vial is the purest form of that substance, drawn from this very pool. It is a very special vial, Toa - an endless vial. As long as you remain as pure as you have shown yourself to be here, that vial will forever remain full, no matter how long you pour its contents, the liquid within coming directly from this pool. This place is one of the best-kept secrets, and once you leave it will be sealed once again. That shall be your one and only link to this place."
I turned it slowly in my hand, marveling at the design. The vial was clear with a hint of blue, ornate designs etched on every surface. It looked like glass, but it was very clearly made of something unlike anything I had ever seen before, looking fragile but from what I could gather almost unbreakable. The designs on it were beautiful, like ocean waves or summer breezes, mixed with ancient symbols and strange creatures. I could not begin to hope to understand the significance of their meanings, but I bowed respectfully all the same.
"Thank you for this gift; I will remember those words of warning and wisdom. I take it then we will never speak to one another again?"
No sooner had the words escaped my lips did a clear tube slide around me, the sounds of gears and old mechanisms grinding to life. The Ga-Toa vanished before me like a vapor, but not before she spoke these last words.
"I suggest you hold your breath."
There was the sound of rushing water, and the last thing I saw as I looked up was the ocean coming down to meet me.
* * *
I broke the surface, coughing and sputtering for the umpteenth time that day, my arms flailing in the open air. I'm sure I looked quite stupid, but after my most recent adventures look really weren't that important anymor-
Mt thoughts were rudely interrupted as I felt a pair of hands grab my shoulders and with ease lift me up and out of the water, landing heavily on some sort of flat surface. Now not only was I flailing and coughing, but I was dizzy and disoriented as well. I heard voices, but the rushing in my ears audio receptors prevented any sort of meaningful vocabulary spring forth. I tried swatting the voices and hands away.
"Give *cough* me *coughcough* a minute... *cough* "
As my senses returned, I was gradually aware of my surroundings. First things, I was on a boat... more importantly, laying in the bottom of it, and by the looks of it the same one Cael and myself had used to get out here. Second, it was night; directly above me there were stars set against a navy-blue background. I had spent over a half-day down there... no wonder these people were freaking out. It didn't seem like it was that long. And yes, it WAS people, people I knew; as my eyes and ears finally adjusted I noted it was Agni and Angelus.
And they were highly concerned.
"JOSKE! Are you alright?! What happened? Where's Cael?"
Immediately I was upright, frantically looking around. I hit Angi with a stare. "Isn't Cael here? In the boat?"
His face grew confused and worried. "No... she wasn't here when I showed up. I assumed she went down after you due to your extremely long absence. She's not with you?"
For the second time that day I felt the sensation of dropping like a rock, except it landed on my stomach.
"If she's not here, not with you, and definitely not with me... then where in the name of Mata-Nui could she have- "
It was in this moment that two different events happened at once.
The first was my vision... or more correctly my nightmare, the one that began haunting me almost a year ago, when I was still a matoran. I thought after meeting Heuani for the first time I put it past me, but as I found myself in a different place and time; clearly I hadn't. Not only that, but it was too real to be a dream, or even a nightmare - it was a vision. My eyes glazed over
I was in a dark chamber - a chamber I knew all to well. While normal beings would have been blinded by such deep pitch, I for some reason was not... especially Heuani, for he was a Toa of Shadow. The vile Toa preferred, for obvious reasons, the darkness to the light - he felt more at home, more powerful, in the darker places of the island. This place, far below the surface, was such a place. Unlike the tunnels and caves of the Onu-Matoran, this place was not carved out by the hands of beings. Perhaps it had been a long-dry river, or a pocket of lava. I didn't know. I didn't care.
All I cared was the scene playing out before me.
Heuani was lying down, hands behind his head, as a lithe Toa of Water stroked his head and chest. It was clear she could not see in this darkness, but apparently she didn't mind; Heuani was one with the darkness, and Heuani was magnetic to her. This Toa was fawning on him, holding him, kissing him... Heuani had chosen her because she was beautiful: doe-eyed, smooth, excellently proportioned. It was obvious he was enjoying it.
"Heuani," she breathed in his ear, "You are... magnificent."
And clearly she was too.
"I know," he replied lazily. He could, after all, take any Toa he liked from the surface whenever he wanted. All it took was a brief trip to the world above, appearing from a shadow, a few minutes of conversation, and then they were his. Males, females, it didn't make much difference to Heuani, as he found both amusing in their ways. This creature of shadow would take a new hostage whenever he got bored with the previous one. He took beauties and intellectuals and loons, and all would provide a new kind of entertainment to him. He had picked her for a specific reason, however... a much more sinister reason.
"Get off me," Heuani said to the Toa, in an almost casual tone.
"What is it?" The Toa of Water asked, disentangling herself with the grace of a dancer.
"I have to go do important things," Heuani said easily.
"Aren't I important?" she pouted, not wanting him to leave, not even for a moment, his hold on her complete.
"Of course," Heuani replied smoothly, cupping her chin, "You are... magnificent." Of course, she didn't understand the irony of his words... she had no clue.
The Toa of Water sighed contentedly. "Be back soon, then," she said, twirling her finger around his shoulder as Heuani stood.
"Don't worry about that," Heuani said, deftly snatching her finger, and pulling her close to him. He kissed her lips, the Ga-Toa lost in waves of ecstasy... and I watched as he used his mask power.
The Kanohi Felnas, the Mask of Disruption.
Through the contact of their lips he corrupted his plaything's ability to control her element. Shocked and panicked, the Toa of Water sputtered and gargled as Heuani coaxed her own element to drown her. She thrashed and tried to strike him, now confused and conflicted, but Heuani was stronger, and held her in place as her lungs filled with her own water.
It was excruciating to watch, this woman coming to the realization that her own element was killing her, but unable to stop it. Eventually she stopped struggling, the Toa of Water going limp in her killer's arms. Heuani lowered her to the floor. "You bored me," he said to the corpse with a shrug and a grin. "Besides, I have an even more important date to keep... one that will prove to be much more... entertaining."
As he strode away the body shifted one last time, gravity doing it's work even down here in the shadows, and for the first time I got a full look at her face. Every time I had seen this play out on my head her face had always been obscured, an object always in the way, or her head turned away from my vantage point. Never had I the chance to see her face. Never had I cared to. But now in this moment I was forced to watch as the ultimate reveal was pressed upon me. I knew this Toa of Water; I knew her like no one else did.
It was Cael.
I blinked, and I found myself slowly rocking in that boat, Agni gripping my shoulder, a near-panicked look on his face.
"Joske... Joske, are you alright? What did you see? You look like death warmed over."
It was here that the second thing happened. Now that all the Crystals were in close proximity, they began to glow. Blow with power, with purpose... with knowledge. They were all together, which meant their bearer had to get the Keeping Place. Had to go now. No sooner had the vision ended was I overcome by a tremendous drive to leave and head inland, like a an outside force compelling me to move. Both this force and the vision had the same destination in mind:
I stared out into the distance, unable to wrap my head around what was going on... but my heart did. Knew exactly what was going on. In my shocked and dumbfounded state a single tear rolled down my cheek.
"Joske, what is going- "
His voice was drowned in a sonic boom that practically capsized the boat.
My Kakama was active, and with all the speed I could muster I ran across the water, tears leaving a wet stream behind me. Heuani had taken her. He had come when there was nothing I could do to stop him, seducing Cael to follow. Here I thought he only wanted me. I thought there was a shred of honor in him. But this... this was below low. Taking my love and using her as bait. Shield.
I went from water to land, willing my mask to move me faster.
Heuani would pay if as much a single scratch was on her.
OOC: for those of you who are wondering, Joske's continuing and troubling dreams are rooted in this post of Nuju's. Joske's been re-living it on occasion for quite some time now, trying to figure out what it meant.
Oh, by the way, Joske to Kini-Nui