ALL CARDINAL POINTS
By Toa Levacius Zehvor
‘All Cardinal Points’ is basically a reflection of the time I have and my first good (I hope) attempt at writing an epic with the skills time has let me acquire. This story is not meant to be 100% accurate to the BIONICLE story at all, and is not set in the Matoran Universe as we know it. The exact nature of this Matoran Universe will be revealed over the course of the story. The primary islands and continents are much larger than in the canon – the Southern Continent is about 17,500 square kio in area, while in the canon it’s not even a single thousand. There is also an Eastern Continent, where the city of Kardam Jin is located – a city covering half of the continent, and within several hundred million matoran inhabitants. Even Metru-Nui is large enough to have a population of over a million in this world. There is a sun and a moon and in all other ways, it seems to be a planet, not the inside of a robot, much like on Mata-Nui. The spaces between the primary canon islands are also much greater - much like crossing from one continent to another in the real world back when all we had was wooden boats.
‘All Cardinal Points’ will, over time, cover most of the Matoran Universe that is known, and some islands that do not exist in the canon story. That is, of course, because it covers all cardinal points.
The characters are not prone to sudden developments – they have a personality, and it’s not going to change very rapidly if it changes at all.
There is no true dating system used by the entire universe. This story is set 15,000 years after the Barraki fell, or about 65,000 years before the primary events of the Bionicle canon would start.
The water rippled slowly, with the sun shining in from up above. In a small boat, far too small to be safe for the great sea voyage it was going on, a large, tall toa wearing a silver breastplate and with a golden brown shade of armor slowly used a paddle of wood to move forward. Looking up, he frowned. The clouds above were darkened, and he was almost certain it was going to rain soon.
He sighed. He had hoped to make it back to the central islands if he could, but now that seemed unlikely. The rain was going to be annoying – it was a guarantee that his red cloak, which he had lying next to him, was going to get wet. Looking onward, he saw that it wasn’t going to be much longer until he reached the island up ahead. He stopped paddling and placed the paddle at his side, reaching into his pouch to pull out a map. Recalling his last stop at the island of Cordak Jaja (not a friendly place, even ignoring the scorpions), he used his fingers to trace where he was now.
Noting the key, he observed that the islands entire eastern half was walled around, the western half having spiked rocks making it nearly impossible to land. There was only one dock. More so than the rest, this island was marked as a dangerous location, with a small isle just a kio off inhabited by Zyglak, and a large force of them dispatched on the island itself.
Despite many years, the toa had heard the names of few minor islands outside of those near the Northern Continent. He recognized this one, though. It was a small, port island isolated from most of the Matoran Universe, rather unknown due too its unimportant location and isolation from major trade routes. But at this distance, even while he looked onward, he did not notice silvery wisps of smoke and the smell of ash coming from the island.
The islands name - Siramir
Midnight, two days before Prologue…
The moon shown down from up above, piercing the veil of the forested half of the island Siramir. In the darkness, a Ga-Matoran hunter raised her spear at a nearby jungle Mahi. The small Rahi was drinking from a small pool in the middle of a clearing, with the moon shining down on the water, which in turn reflected its brilliant light.
The matoran steadied her aim as the creatures ears perked up to look around. Realizing that her chance was almost lot, she hurled the spear. It was too late, however, as the Elkere had already detected her and was turning. The shot itself was a poor shot made as a last ditch attempt. The creature she had been stalking bolted off, five hours of tracking (made more complicated by the Zyglak threat of the forests) wasted. She cursed her carelessness. With imports becoming rarer ever since the raid by the reptilian creatures on a trade ship, hunting in the forest had become a necessity if one wished for meat.
The jungle Mahi was long gone now, and she was too tired. She frowned. “Good job, Zita,” she thought to herself. “No meat for you or your district. That was going to last at least a week if the Stone Rats didn’t get to it!”
Zita moved over to where she had seen the spear travelling, looking at the pool as she went. Her blue noble Miru was easy to see in the water, as was her light bluish green armor. Taking a few seconds to observe herself for any injuries from the hunt, she continued onto the spear.
When she got their, she gasped. The spear was not impaled in the ground or in a tree, but in a cold, dead Zyglak, lying against the wall. At first she thought that she had killed the creature, but a close look proved her wrong. The creature’s blood was not pouring out, as its heart had been long stopped, and only a small stream came out.
She looked down and saw the Zyglak’s spear, known for its destructive properties. Putting it on her back, she got a closer look. This Zyglak had a large, hunched back, a physical deformity marking it an exile. It had died on its own, likely due to being unable to hunt or simply the old age so much more harmful to organics.
Placing her armored boot on the creature to pull the spear out, she saw the fingers twitch. Normally she would have expected this in prey, but this Zyglak had long since gone into rigor mortis. Watching, Zita saw the entire hand twitch, followed by the arm, and then the eyes of creature flickering open and its mouth uttering a hiss.
Stumbling back she attempted to thrust forward with her spear, attempting to kill the thing, thinking that it had simply used some sort of playing dead trick. Her hopes were disregarded as the creature swiped at her with its diseased claw, nearly cutting into her body before she stumbled back onto her rear. As the creature slowly came forward, it pulled the spear out of its body. Its eyes were dark and bloodshot, and the creature seemed not even to care that it was injured, injured in a way she had seen fully healthy Zyglak screech out and back away from.
Standing up as fast as she can, Zita rushed back into the forest, trying to make it back to the walls of Sira-Koro, the village behind the walls of Siramir where she had come from. As she ran, the spear went flying a few bio past her and impaled itself in a tree. The creature continued forward, hobbling as fast as its deformed and stiff body could.
* * * * *
A quarter of an hour passed before Zita made it back to the walls, where a duo of matoran watched, a Fe-Matoran and a Ta-Matoran. The two guards looked down at Zita as she came rushing out, completely out of breath and with the Zyglak spear strapped to her back.
The Ta-Matoran looked downwards, spear at the ready in case he needed to hurl it at an incoming Rahi or Zyglak. Calling down to Zita with a sarcastic tone of voice, he said, “And what brings the bravest of hunters running for her life from the forests of Siramir, bearing the token of a horrible monstrosity with her?”
Zita scowled at him and called up, “That monstrosity you mention managed to survive two spear strikes into the chest and keep coming forward without any care! I found it dead after my spear missed a Mahi, but it somehow came alive again!”
The two guards grinned as they looked at each other. This was not the first ridiculous story told by Zita, and at the rate she told them, it was impossible to tell when she was telling the truth or when the so called monstrous dragon Rahi was actually her excuse for being beat back by a pathetic Kinloka while wandering through the forests. The Fe-Matoran looked down at Zita and said, “So, the dead are coming alive to terrorize poor Zita? Shall we search the skies for flying Skakdi now?”
Zita screeched at the Fe-Matoran, “My words are not spoken falsely! Let me through the gate right now before I climb up there and have your corpses fed to the living dead army!”
The Ta-Matoran went down with an amused look on his face and turned the crank to open up the gates. Zita rushed forward and knocked him over, heading back for her hut. She would have to ponder for quite a while about the events of this night. She wasn’t sure what to think of it, but she knew no good could come from any of this.
* * * * *
Morning broke with no problem, as it always did. The sun slid across the sky, releasing itself to shine down on the massive trees of the island. The grassy patches dotting the islands eastern half were covered in a thin layer of morning dew, in contrast to the dry, thatch roofs of the many farm huts across the island.
A small area, with a two bio wall of stone isolating it from the fields, held six larger than average houses with much nicer design. A ray of yellow and white light shined down on the entrance of one of the dwellings as its door opened. Out of it emerged a toa. He was of average height, with a reasonably muscular build compared to the average toa. His armor was a dark orange, and he had small plates of armor across his body that appeared made of topaz. His mask, of an orange slightly lighter than the rest of his armor but with a metallic underlying sheen, appeared as a Kualsi. Across his back was a large sheathe holding a large claymore.
His name was Darennad, Toa of Fire serving as a guardian of Sira-Koro. Looking forwards, he considered once again his desires to move the door to the other side of the building as he had to avert his eyes and adjust to the blinding sunlight. He frowned. Another long day working as a guardian of Sara-Koro, wandering around the island and watching out for some stone rat terrorizing a matoran. And, glancing at the roster Commander Parigun had written up for the week, he knew he had been assigned to the least favorable – by the standards of his team – job of all.
“The docks…” he thought to himself. “Petty criminals and docked pirates, the later being the only excitement whenever an entire ship floods out and attempts to take the city. That’s all that the docks are. But at least it gives me a reason to check to see what’s happening off island.”
Darennad continued moving forward through the dawn lit fields, where the earliest of awakened farm workers were already hard at work toiling in the fields. As he moved past, one of the workers closest to the side of the road threw him Bula berry, which he readily accepted. Giving a nod of thanks, he continued on as the Matoran went back to his labors.
His mask peeling over near his mouth so he could take a bite into the fruit, he closed it back up as he silently chewed. As he looked forward, he saw that he was nearing the walled dock region, the closest part of Siramir to the term ‘urban’. A flock of Mata-Nui fishing birds flew overhead, and he looked up to the sky.
An embossed plaque of a Muaka almost seemed to be alive as it hung on the stone above the massive, heavily barricaded wooden gates that lead into the docks. The gates, opening inward to the docks, were infused with Kanoka disks fused together to have the properties of a Mask of Shielding, making even the strongest forces to bring it down from the front impossible to all but great toa powers and massive siege engines.
Moving past the gate, pulling the lever to open it, he was again made disgusted by the depressing, slum-like area. Unlike the great city of Metru-Nui, where work was taken care of properly and in an orderly fashion, Siramir had a much different order of inner workings. It was a Hapaka eat Hapaka world for these people. Only the insane or lazy stayed in the docks when the fields needed tending, but at this time of year they were full of those unable to work in the fields and unable to get a job working at the two factories (not that Darennad would prefer to work there either). As such, beggars lined up along the side of the road. As he passed by, most went quiet. It was common knowledge that the toa of Siramir were granted all supplies they needed by the Turaga of the island, but did not hold personal wealth. It wasn’t even worth asking one.
As he passed through the area, he headed for the short but thick tower where Turaga Kirss resided amidst a massive trove of knowledge going back to the dawn of the universe, including great secrets and records from all sorts of events, going back to the League of Six Kingdoms and the founding of Sira-Koro, when it had been used by the Barraki Carapar as an outpost for holding stores of poison and food. The Brotherhood of Makuta, even before they attacked at Metru-Nui, had killed off the population of the island by mixing the two up and tossing the bodies in the forest, leaving it a ghost town for nine thousand years before the first of the current residents landed and quickly took to using the well fortified location.
Outside of the tower, a large board was pinned with papers detailing what was happening currently. The fortress of Northgate on the Northern Continent being rebuilt, a toa of plant life gone rogue from the Southern Continent last seen only a few islands away from Siramir after killing her last companion, a new thieves guild rumored to have taken over Stelts underworld. The usual doomsday prophecy hung up, and nearby a matoran frantically cried out about the end being nigh.
He chuckled and turned. Whilst on his abnormal, looping patrol, he heard some noises coming from the barracks, likely the guards getting their exterior plates and weapons ready for their patrols. Taking his own path through the back alleys he headed past the outer dock gates over to the wharf. A large galleon had recently docked, taking the space of three normal cargo ships and unloading crates by the dozen.
As Darennad moved around the wharf, he opened his hand, and began to absorb the flames in the torches lining the streets. The flames flickered, and enlarged for just a moment before they danced into a flurry of bolts that attracted to his hand, creating an orb of flames. Closing his hands, he felt a sense of warmth as the energy of his own element empowered him.
After watching this display, a matoran wearing fine clothing came over from where the galleon had docked and approached Darennad. “Excuse me, sir Toa? I was told by the harbor master that I needed to talk to the Toa on patrol in order to unload some of the cargo on this ship.”
Darennad gave the matoran a quizzical glance. “Since when did that rule get instated? Commander Parigun never said anything about this to any of us. What is in the ship any-“
Before he could finish, another toa walked past him. He was clad in purple armor with black markings over his mask, which appeared to any observer as a Kanohi Hau. Like the mask Darennad wore, this mask had a completely different power than it appeared to. As his was a Mask of Sensory Aptitude, this mask was a Mask of Stealth. And, just a few moments ago, it had been in use. The toa, staring forward, said, “You don’t need to worry about it, brother. The rule was put into place last night. You shouldn’t have to worry about it happening too much, it’s only for some rarer imports.”
Darennad shrugged, “Well, Amfik, if that’s the case, could you take care of it before returning back to the compound? I need to make sure that some beggar isn’t trying to stab another to get some Vola-Whata bread.”
“Sure brother.” replied Amfik after Darennad had finished. As Darennad walked away to leave Amfik to take care of it, he caught a glance of the matoran holding a clipboard and saying, “Sign here, please.”
As Darennad walked around the docks, he saw a Ga-Matoran, one of the hunters, rushing frantically towards the docks. Holding his hand to stop, she looked at him frantically, fear in her eyes. Shaking her head, she said, “It’s too late! We all have to flee! It’s true, I saw it!”
Before he could react, she was already long gone. He frowned. What could have spooked a hunter so bad that they would have fled to the docks to get away?
* * * * *
After the morning signing and odd encounter with the Ga-Matoran, who he was later told had been Zita, Darennad found himself moving through another boring day. The galleon and two much smaller cargo ships were all that docked, and he didn’t see Amfik afterwards either (not that, even if he wasn’t heading back to the toa compound, Darennad would see him anyways unless he chose to be seen). At dusk, the birds flying overhead retired to the lighthouse and other large buildings to roost, while the matoran working in the factory sighed in relief after much hard work. Tomorrow he figured would be shipping day, and the galleon, which still waited in the harbor, would likely be vessel responsible for transporting most of it. Islands without agriculture had their uses.
As he sat on a bench, he rested his mask against his hand. He thought about all of the stories he had heard of the wars of the universe. The stories of the Skylance War were his favorite. The rise of a small city state to a large kingdom, and finally into an empire covering over two thirds of the continent before it fell to internal corruption. That was his favorite part. For the first time in the history of the continent, ever since the League of Six Kingdoms had disbanded and splinter groups plunged it into war, the many kingdoms on the island rose together and to usurp the corrupt emperor. The powerful Emperor Skylance III who, like his predecessors, took his name from that of the empire and the powerful artifact he was said to have carried, had been defeated in battle by great heroes, and the corruption was revealed in full of the empire when it was found that the general of the army who bore the artifact was not the Emperor in armor, but the Empress, who had been the wielder of The Skylance, trapped within a robotic suit bound to the Emperors will. But he already had discovered his own artifact – a mask that granted invincibility. In the end, the Empress gave her own life to defeat him, thrusting The Skylance through his heart. The artifact vanished, and his body was disintegrated along with the mask, leaving only her lifeless body. The city, bound to his lifeforce, vanished completely. Without it and its warriors, the rest of the empire fell, and Skylance was no more.
He wished that he could have been there, serving in those noble armies as a hero, not as a guard for a tiny village on a tiny island. But he accepted his fate as it was, and knew that at least his life was better than that of the factory guards.
However, that didn’t make it any more exciting. For two hours, he stalked around the docks, until dusk had finally faded into late night, with a new moon and hundreds of stars up above in the clear night sky. Using his powers to light the torches, he eventually made his way back to the bench.
As he sat down, he again thought of the exciting battles. If only he could be there! If only he could be a hero, one worthy of ballads and exciting stories.
In a cruel, twisted misinterpretation of his silent musing, his enhanced hearing imparted by his mask nearly tripled the far off, but extremely loud, sound of a volley of lightning bolts. Grasping his head and startled from the unexpected noise, he looked up into the sky, where a massive cloud was gathering overhead and bolts of lightning were streaking to the ground.
The sounding of a horn, three short bursts followed by a long one, marked one thing – the forest gates were under attack! Stumbling back as another blast of lightning sent thunder through his head, he shook his head and shouted, “What in the name of Mata-Nui is going on?”
-Toa Levacius Zehvor
Edited by Toa Levacius Zehvor, Jan 01 2012 - 12:18 AM.