At last, Oreius rolled to a stop, still clutching the Stone, and covered in snow. Fighting off nausea, he struggled to his feet. Every second counted: he couldn't afford to rest for even a moment. His vision spun as he fought to stand straight, the cold not helping, but gradually everything swam back into view, and the first thing the Ta-Matoran noticed was the enormous Muaka swiftly bearing down on him, carrying one of the three pursuing Toa.
This, however, was no ordinary Toa. He was lanky and spiny, almost appearing to be more Rahkshi than Toa. His face was contorted into a leering snarl as he urged his mount downward, faster and faster, bearing down on the Matoran he pursued.
Oreius, his satchel gone, had no place to put the Stone he held close; not if he wanted to use both his swords, and it seemed he would need them. The Toa had every advantage over him: strength, speed, height, and sheer power. One blade would not be enough.
The Stone was still cooling in his hand; Oreius was not afraid, but his courage seemed to have no effect this time. What had happened on the beach appeared to be a one-shot deal; the Matoran would have to handle this without supernatural help.
And without physical help either, it seemed. A quick glance around revealed their new companion, Koreru, standing nearby holding a knife, but from his stance and his grip, it was obvious that he had no idea what he was doing. Stannis was far above them, fighting his own Muaka. It was up to the the Ta-Matoran to get himself out of this, and Koreru too.
The former Guard looked around, trying to find some sort of advantage he could use. The avalanche they had ridden had piled itself at the bottom of the steep hill, and much of it had continued on, laying out a vast layer of powdery snow.
The two Matoran were standing on the snow; they weren't heavy enough to sink any farther than a few inches. But the Muaka...
“Koreru!” Oreius shouted, catching the Ko-Matoan's attention. “Run! Follow me!”
Without wasting another moment, the Ta-Matoran turned around and sprinted away from the foot of the cliff where he had landed. A quick glance over his shoulder showed that Koreru had obeyed and was following behind him, albeit fearfully.
Of course he was afraid: he wasn't protected by destiny. He was subject to the winds and storm-tossed seas of life that threw him every which way and drowned him at leisure. But the fear that Oreius usually had to force down was not there. Even as he ran, he was calm, his heart hammering not in fear but in excitement. Destiny, he knew, was on his side, and if by some fluke it wasn't, then there was nothing he could do. Either way, he would give nothing but his best, and thus make himself a hero to remember, whether he was truly Chosen or not.
The two Matoran couldn't hope to outrun the feline Rahi and its rider; within seconds, the pair had reached the foot of the cliff. Vidar urged his mount on, coaxing it to jump from ledge to ledge until finally it leaped off an outcropping about ten feet above the ground.
The Muaka landed, but it did not land on solid ground.
The mountain had released its burden of snow in an avalanche that had briefly carried the three Matoran away from their pursuers. Upon reaching the bottom of the hill, it had simply spread out, and covered the ground for a hundred yards in a thick sea of snow. The Matoran were able to run without sinking, but the monstrous Rahi sank like a stone, submerging itself in the snow.
Vidar refused to let this minor hindrance halt his chase, and he spurred the beast on. But the Rahi was too heavy to run on the snow; it took a step only for its entire limb to plunge deep into the powder. Running was impossible; the brute could forge its way forward but slowly, and already the Matoran were widening the gap, fleeing the scene as fast as their limbs could carry them.
Looking back, Oreius held back a whoop of victory upon seeing his pursuers halt their chase. But his elation was short-lived: Stannis was still back there, and he was beyond their reach. There was nothing they could do but keep moving, and trust that the Wanderer would devise his own escape.