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Chapter 2: The Quest BeginsIsarot.“Where are they?” I grumbled, looking around the large basement at the collection of crates full of weapons, armor, Kanohi masks, and many other things I did not know about. “They should have been here ten minutes ago.”It was early in the morning. I had awoken immediately before the sun rose. Because I had prepared the night before, all I had had to do was sling my bag full of food, water, and other necessities over my shoulder and I was ready to go. The only weapon I brought was my trusty tomahawk, although I had a small dagger packed away in my bag, just in case.Even if I had wanted to bring along more weapons, I didn’t have any room for anything other than my tomahawk and dagger. There was nothing practical about lugging around both a large axe and a tomahawk all day long. I should know, since one of the Tagiki guardianship rituals included heaving a gigantic axe from Rimos to the capital city of Tuyar Akam. And I can assure you that that is much longer than a short stroll down to the beach.I also wore new armor. It was thicker than my original suit, but I had intended that. I had no idea what Kiriah and I would be facing on our journey. I only hoped Kiriah had had the same foresight as I and had chosen to wear some thicker or tougher armor today.Then again, knowing Kiriah, she probably didn’t. Not only that, but she’d probably forget to bring her own bag of supplies, forcing me to share with her, thus cutting our food and water supplies in half and making it not last nearly as long as it should. She was just like that. It was odd, really, because she was a Toa of Psionics. I would think she would actually be smarter than me, yet I often got the feeling that she wasn’t.I strode over to a nearby crate and sat on it. Or rather, I tried to sit on it. I hadn’t realized the lid was open, so I fell into a large box of hard stone tablets. Although it was by no means a great fall, it still was painful to land onto the tablets just the same. I struggled to get out, but the crate was a bit deeper than I originally thought, which made getting out more difficult than I thought it would be.“Isarot!” said a sharp voice from the other side of the room. “What are you doing in that crate?”I looked up quickly at the sound of the voice and saw Toa Kiriah and Turaga Klio standing at the bottom of the stairs, both looking puzzled at my predicament. Embarrassed, I tried to get out again but failed. Why was this so difficult and how come the sudden appearance of Kiriah and Klio seemed to make it even harder?“Here, let me help,” said Kiriah, clearly trying not to laugh at my problem.Without warning, I flew into the air and landed roughly on my feet. I staggered forward a bit, then straightened up and tried to look as dignified as I could after recovering from such an embarrassing predicament.Without looking at her, I told Kiriah, “Thanks.”“You’re welcome,” said Kiriah, who still seemed to be holding in her laughter. But she giggled slightly anyway, which annoyed me greatly.Trying my best to keep my face averted from Kiriah, I turned to Klio, who did not appear to be in the mood to laugh, and asked, “Do you have the Olmak, Turaga?”“I do indeed, Isarot,” said Klio, nodding. I noticed a large, gray, dome-shaped Kanohi mask in her left hand, which I assumed was the Olmak. “I would not have come here today without this Olmak, you know.”I glanced at Kiriah – whose eyes were fixated on the Olmak – and asked, “Exactly what took you so long to get here, Kiri?”“What?” She seemed to snap out of some kind of trance after hearing the abbreviation I had given her several years ago, when we had first started working together. “What’d you say, Isarot?”I sighed and asked again, “I was asking what took you so long to get here, Kiriah.”“Oh, er, I was saying good bye to everyone,” said Kiriah, shrugging. “And taking one last look at Tanjo Nui’s sunrise. I mean, we might never see one again, you know? And they’re quite beautiful this time of year.”I folded my arms and said, “Hmph. Right. Did you say ‘good bye’ to Toa Nasis, per chance?”“I, er, didn’t,” Kiriah admitted, looking at her feet. “He and Toa Ahova are currently preparing to head for Stelt, where they plan to get some information on the Dark Hunters. They’re in Rimos, getting a boat ready.”“I see,” I said. “Good to see he’s getting ready, then. At least he’s not swimming to Stelt without a plan anyway.”Kiriah said nothing, but I could tell she was clearly annoyed by what I said. I don’t see why she was. Just because she had a crush on him doesn’t make Nasis perfect. I never liked Nasis anyway, so she shouldn’t expect me to say anything nice about him.I looked at Klio and asked, “Turaga, what are we waiting for? Give Kiriah the mask and we’ll be on our way.”Klio shook her head. “Not yet. Kolora is still absent. As the Baiji of the Tagiki, she must be present before you go. She wouldn’t want to miss this, since I know the Time Stone is just as important to her as it is to us, despite what she may have said earlier.”“Do you know if she’ll be here soon?” I asked. I knew how rude I must have sounded to her, but I was impatient. I wanted to get going now, since we’d let the thief get a two day start ahead of us already. Who knows where he might be at this very moment?“Don’t worry, Isarot,” said Kiriah, patting me on the shoulder, as though she were reading my mind (which she probably was, now that I think about it). “I mean, who knows how time acts in other universes? Maybe when we get into the same dimension as the thief, he’ll have only been there five minutes or something like that. We have all the time in the world to go after him.”I glared at her and said, “You just don’t want to risk your sanity, right?”“Er, yeah,” said Kiriah, somewhat awkwardly. “I mean, if you were in the same position as me, you wouldn’t be in a hurry to put on a mask that could possibly drive you insane, right?”“I guess,” I said doubtfully. “But I still wouldn’t want to wait. Not if it was the only thing I could do about the theft.”Kiriah shook her head like she couldn’t believe me, but before she could say anything we heard the sounds of footsteps. A minute later, Kolora appeared at the foot of the staircase which Kiriah and Klio had come from. She looked like she hadn’t slept a wink last night, which I understood well, considering how stressful this situation was for all of us.“Ah, good to see that you are here, Kolora,” said Klio, nodding as the Tagiki Baiji approached us. “Now we can give Kiriah and Isarot the Olmak and they can finally begin their quest to retrieve the Time Stone.”“Yes,” said Kolora with absolutely no enthusiasm whatsoever. “Well, there’s no reason to delay it any longer. Just give the mask to them and let them be on their way.”I nodded eagerly and almost reached for the mask before remembering that Kiriah would be the one using it, since Tagiki cannot use Kanohi masks. So I watched as Turaga Klio handed Kiriah the gray Olmak, which my friend held as far away from herself as possible, as though it would explode any minute.“There,” said Klio. “All you need to do now is put it on and activate it. You’ll know what to do from there.”“Er, thanks, Turaga,” said Kiriah, slowly and hesitantly pulling the mask closer to her, like it was a dangerous artifact that could harm her. “But aren’t we going to be doing some kind of special ceremony before we leave? Like, get a blessing from Mata Nui or something like that?”“No,” said Klio, shaking her head. “There’s no need. Besides, this is something that only happened once before, and even that was secret. We have no elaborate or sacred ceremony when sending heroes off onto a journey across dimensions anyway, so the point is moot.”“Well, okay,” said Kiriah, who sounded a little disappointed to me. “I wasn’t actually expecting anything like that. I was just . . . um, curious about why we were being sent off so abruptly like this.”“It doesn’t matter, Kiriah,” I said, feeling annoyed and impatient now. “We gotta stop dawdling. If we’re going to go, then why don’t we just go?”“Well, before we go, I’d like to ask you both a question, elders,” said Kiriah, who I figured was trying to delay the moment of departure as long as possible.“Fine,” said Klio, nodding. “What is it?”“Er, who was the original thief? The guy who stole the Time Stone when you were a Toa, Turaga?” asked Kiriah.Even I noticed how quickly Klio and Kolora’s expressions darkened, like Kiriah had just asked the wrong question.“We . . . do not know,” said Klio reluctantly, after glancing at Kolora, who looked almost enraged. “He wore a hood the entire time. He never even told us his name.”“Well, do you even have an idea of who this thief could be, then?” Kiriah inquired. “Could he somehow be related to the original?”
“No,” said Kolora, speaking up for the first time. “We have no idea who this new thief is. Probably just some greedy fool seeking to make himself more powerful through the power of the Time Stone. Ha! As if any being could control the Time Stone’s power . . .”“I’ve heard legends about the Time Stone’s power,” said Kiriah, “but I’d never thought they were real. Is the Time Stone really-““That powerful? Most likely,” said Klio, after glaring at Kolora. “We have never seen its power in action ourselves, but that thief might have heard the legends of what it could do and decided he wanted that kind of power for himself.”Although my patience was beginning to wear extremely thin by now, I could not help but remember the many different legends regarding the Time Stone’s unique powers. Some said that it could freeze or speed up time, like the legendary Kanohi Vahi could supposedly do; others said that the Stone actually granted its user the ability to travel through time. Most claimed that the Time Stone could give one the powers of Mata Nui himself. The idea of a thief wielding the Great Spirit’s strength frightened me more than I would like to admit.Kiriah seemed to get the same idea as me, for she said, “Well, let’s just hope the legends are wrong, then.”“Unlikely,” said Kolora, folding her arms. She then looked at Kiriah and asked suspiciously, “Why are you so interested in knowing this sort of thing anyway?”“Well, elder, I figured we should know as much about the Time Stone and the thief as we possibly can before leaving,” said Kiriah as she finally swapped her old Kanohi for the Olmak. I began to get excited, for I knew that meant we were about to leave soon. “Just so we are prepared for whatever challenges we might face.”“I can tell you right now that even if we were to give you all of the information in the universe, you still wouldn’t be prepared for whatever you will soon encounter,” Kolora warned, in a voice that almost broke before she regained control of herself. “There are countless alternate universes out there and each and every one is unique. No two universes are alike and even if you master one, another will knock you right off your feet because you knew nothing about it. You’ll be lucky to survive even one, young guardians.”“In other words, be prepared to die at any moment and have a nice day,” Klio muttered.“Uh, right,” said Kiriah, though she looked a little uneasy now. “We’ll, uh, be sure to remember that, elder.”“You had better,” said Kolora sternly. “Unlike you two, we did not have any warnings or advice about the unpredictable and often dangerous nature of alternate universes. Consider yourself lucky, young Toa. Now get going. You have no time to waste standing around and listening to a couple of old fools rambling about the old days.”Kiriah seemed too surprised to respond.I said, “Thank you, elders. We’ll be going now. Right, Kiriah?”“Er, yeah,” she said, nodding. “Sure. Bye, elders.”“Good bye, Kiriah, Isarot,” said Klio. “Let us hope that Mata Nui will assist you on this vital quest.”“Indeed,” said Kolora. “Although if you do fail, don’t worry. You probably won’t live long enough to face the consequences of your actions.”I bowed respectfully and said, “Good bye, elders. We shall never give up, even if death itself looms before us!”“Well, if death itself does loom before us, don’t expect me not to scream at least,” Kiriah murmured.Neither elder seemed to catch what she said. They simply nodded, which I took as meaning it was really time for us to go now.But then Kiriah asked one more question: “Um, how are we supposed to find the Time Stone in the first place? It could be in any of the countless dimensions out there!”“The mask itself will lead you to the Stone,” Klio answered softly. “For reasons we cannot know, the Toa Avha’s enemies somehow infused that Olmak with the ability to sense the Time Stone, wherever it is. It is how we chased the original thief in the first place; otherwise the Time Stone would have been lost forever.”“How does that work?” asked Kiriah in amazement.“It will allow you to instinctively know where the Time Stone is,” said Klio. “Sort of like radar, except in your mind. It is difficult to explain. You will have to experience it for yourself.”“Um, okay,” said Kiriah. “I guess I will.”My patience wearing thin, I looked at Kiriah and said, “All right, Kiri. There’s no reason to delay any further. Activate the mask and let’s get going.”“Um, all right,” said Kiriah, nodding. She sounded unsure, like she doubted her ability to handle the Olmak’s power. Being a Tagiki, it was a fear I did not understand. But I had faith in her ability to control it, even though she was a bit of a screw up most of the time. “Stand back. It might be a little . . . surprising.”I thought I was prepared for whatever the mask could do. After all, I had seen a dimensional portal before, so I figured this wouldn’t be that shocking or surprising.I was wrong.At first, there was a strange tingle in the air that I had never felt before. It was almost like something was . . . wrong, as though reality itself was buckling underneath a surge of power even greater than the sun. I could sense energy being drawn from the air like metal to a magnet. How I knew this, I did not know. Perhaps it was simply another power of this powerful Kanohi. Whatever it was, it made me feel uncomfortable, although not afraid.And then a large dimensional portal exploded into existence. Caught off guard, I accidentally stumbled backwards into another crate, although fortunately I managed to keep myself from falling into it. I looked around and saw that even Klio and Kolora were keeping their distance from the swirling portal of energy.Gazing into it, I could not see much other than a swirl of colors and textures that kept shifting so much it hurt my eyes. Actually, it was almost like a wall of water had appeared in front of us, for the surface of the portal appeared to be constantly flowing like the ocean and it was slightly transparent just like water. I, however, doubted that it would feel anything like water once we stepped into it.Despite the great power radiating from it, Kiriah managed to hold her ground. I was impressed, since she was standing closest to the portal. Perhaps it had to do with the fact she was wearing the object that controlled the gate. That would make sense, since I doubted Kiriah was really that strong.“Wow,” said Kiriah, her eyes transfixed on the constantly fluctuating portal. “It’s so big and bright . . . and I am controlling it . . . That’s so cool . . .”“All right, enough gawking,” I said, getting up and walking over to her. “We didn’t come here to stare at this . . . thing all day. We’ve got a mission, remember?”“What? Oh, right,” she said, like she hadn’t been paying attention. “Got to rescue the Time Stone. Could lose my sanity. Right.”I rolled my eyes at her sarcasm and said, “Very funny, Kiri.”I turned my head toward Kolora and Klio, who were still standing away from the portal. Neither of them seemed happy to see it; Kolora looked downright angry. But they did not say anything; only stared.“This will be the last we’ll see of each other for a while, I think,” I told the two elders. “So I guess this is good bye.”“For real,” Kiriah agreed.Oddly enough, neither Kolora nor Klio spoke. They merely nodded, as though they understood that they might never see me or Kiriah ever again.After an uncomfortable silence, I turned back to Kiriah and said, “Let’s go. We should, um, hold hands to avoid getting separated in the space between dimensions.”“Uh, okay,” said Kiriah as I slipped my hand into hers. “Why not?”Holding hands firmly, we leapt into the portal in unison, without ever looking back. Our quest had finally, truly begun and I was ready to do whatever it would take to retrieve the Time Stone, no matter the cost.But even as we entered the portal, Kolora’s warnings echoed through my mind like a gong and I could not help but wonder if this quest would somehow end in tragedy. And that thought scared me far more than any of the unknown places we were journeying to.Review Topic.
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