It is a miracle that I am living to carve this message and that I have found the materials to do so. It is a miracle that such an awful place as this exists.
My name is Reysa. Until recently, I would have identified myself as an Onu-Matoran Inventor. Now, I am not sure that either title fits me. Like you, I was sent here due to injury. I was developing a Heatstone-powered engine, and when it blew up my friend Gar and I were caught in the blast. Unlike you, I have seen firsthand all of the horrors this realm has to offer.
Nobody should ever have to see those horrors again.
I implore you to read on and to leave this place. And, if you are too stubborn to do so, I implore you to reconsider.
Zap. Whoosh. A bolt of lightning struck the boat.
After what could have been an age, I regained consciousness. When I finally came to my senses, the remains of our vessel had floated ashore and Gar, who must have waded to safety, was drenched.
When I stumbled out of the wreck, he shot me an angry look.
“You—you moron! We almost died when your engine blew up back home, and now look at what you’ve gotten us into!”
I was taken aback. Gar was among the kindest Matoran I knew—he never lashed out at anyone.
He was taken aback, too. He looked down at the ground, up at me, and then back down again, embarrassed. “I’m sorry, Reysa, I don’t know what got into—”
“We need to find shelter,” I interjected. “You stay here and try to recover our supplies, and I’ll try to find the Matoran settlement. I’ll return by nightfall.”
He was still looking at the ground, his voice remorseful. “But the weather is worsening.”
He was right. In the distance, clouds darker than the ones above us floated ever closer. They looked like they were just raring to spew out liquid protodermis. They moved with surprising speed; it wouldn’t be long before they arrived.
“Which is exactly why I am going to look for shelter,” I said impatiently.
“The point is—”
“The point is that I’m looking for shelter,” I spat as I stormed off.
Karzahni. As you can no doubt see for yourself, its surroundings are completely desolate. The only thing that covers the rocky ground is sand and dust. It even seems like common logic has no effect around here. While I trudged along toward the settlement, the sound of the breeze blasted like a swarm of Kirikori Nui, but you’d have needed to be a De-Matoran to hear the loudest booms of thunder, if there even were any.
By the time that I found the canyon, it was dark enough that they had placed out lightstones as if it were nighttime. On one side of the realm was a series of mysterious spires; on the other, a village. The settlement, like its surroundings, was very strange. The villagers seemed oddly short even from a distance, and many were huddled around blocks of ice as if hoping to stay warm. As I approached a group of Matoran, many tried to avoid eye contact with me. The ones that didn’t had looks in their eyes of great sadness. One among them caught my eye—a fidgety Le-Matoran who, despite his obvious fear, was trying to maintain his composure. He stared right at me. He began to jitter more and more as I grew nearer, but his glowing eyes didn’t waver.
Finally, he looked down. “What do you want from me?” he asked balefully. “What could I possibly have worth anything anymore?”
“I was sent here by my Turaga,” I responded. Some of the Matoran who had been trying to avoid looking at me before were now boring straight through me with their eyes. “Where is Karzahni?”
The Matoran looked back up in puzzlement. “Are you mad?” he asked, pondering for a moment before doing so.
I restated my question, this time more irritatedly.
The Le-Matoran’s eyes darted back and forth between several other villagers, but his pleads for assistance were met with blank stares. After some deliberation, he slowly raised one of his hands and pointed toward the spires on the other side of the realm. “He’s—he’s in there—”
I headed off in the direction he pointed. As I did so, he called after me. The wind muted him out.
The spires stretched up to the sky as if they wanted to snatch the stars from it. Although the buildings seemed to have been built recently, they also somehow looked ancient. A dull glow came from the inside of the towers, but the light seemed almost sorrowful.
When I entered the main building, I felt as if it wanted to devour me. The chamber was empty save for several wall-mounted torches. The only two directions I could travel were up a menacing staircase or out the door toward safety.
Foolishly, I chose the stairs.
After I hobbled up what felt like a kio of steps, I finally reached a landing with a large door. My legs could no longer move, and I collapsed flat on the floor. They say that Onu-Matoran have unrivaled stamina; that must be true, because I am convinced that if it weren’t for my stubbornness I would have fallen long before I did. While I was recovering, I studied the door and realized that there was no way to open it. And so I ran—or quickly limped—toward the door, hoping to alert whoever was on the other side as to my presence when I collided with it. However, it swung open as I was about to reach it, sending me sliding into the room it concealed.
The room that I was now in was very different from the rest of the building. Although it was located at the tip of a spire, the chamber was oddly large. On one wall was a window looking out to nothing but fog, and on the furthermost side of the room was a stack of stone tablets covered in illegible text and enriched by the occasional scribble of a picture. Next to this mound, however, sat the strangest feature of the room: a twisted throne occupied by an even more twisted being.
You no doubt know of the being. He is said to have been created by the Great Beings themselves; I can only hope that is a lie. His armor had been patched up so many times it was as if he spent his free time rebuilding himself—and he no doubt had a lot of free time, based on the amount of effort he put into maintaining his realm. And behind his hideous Kanohi lay a pair of eyes teetering on the brink of madness.
I looked up at Karzahni, who was staring right through me as if deep in thought. Slowly, he contorted his face into a twisted smile. Then suddenly, he spoke.
“Hello, Matoran. Do you wish to be healed?” He asked this without emotion, as if he had recited the greeting many times.
I slowly nodded. It appeared that there was no other option: if I tried to escape from the chamber, he would no doubt catch me on the staircase.
His body shuddered as he tried to hide a bout of psychotic laughter.
“Very well,” he responded, standing. “This won’t hurt a bit.”
When Karzahni finished rebuilding me, he gave me an approving smile and stared at me, admiring his handiwork.
Relieved, I looked down at my body.
Horrified, I looked up at Karzahni.
I suddenly had the urge to run out of the rebuilding chamber and that awful realm, my fear of being caught gone. Whether the being in front of me realized this telepathically, through experience, or simply because I was looking at the exit, I don’t know. I do know that he did not approve of my plans.
“If you try to run, Matoran, you’ll regret it.”
I stopped looking at the door and my eyes moved around the room before they finally settled on Karzahni. He sneered. I stared at him for a little while, and, sneering back at him, I bolted toward the exit.
But before I could make it out of the chamber, reality began to twist around me.
I now stood back home, in front of my Heatstone engine. I heard Gar enter the room, and he stood beside me, looking at the motor. Suddenly, my hand moved, but I wasn’t in control of it; my head then looked down without my willing it, and I saw that I was holding a Heatstone.
That’s when I realized what was happening. Someone—or something—was forcing me to relive the actions that had gotten me sent to Karzahni.
I turned to Gar, and he shook his head in disapproval. I looked back down. Knowing what was to come, I resisted as much as I could. But despite all of my efforts, I placed the Heatstone in its conduit.
The explosion was much larger than I remembered. I was blown clear away from the remains of the engine, and I lay on the ground for what seemed to be an eternity. I eventually regained enough strength to move my fingers, and was surprised to discover that I was now in control of my body. After several painful attempts, I stood up. I then limped toward where Gar now lay.
When I approached him, he gave me a look of disapproval. His Kanohi had been shattered, and some of its fragments were on the ground near him. I knelt down in front of him, and he grew less tense.
“Don’t worry,” I told him. “You’re going to be alright.”
Gar smiled, but with great effort. “You were never good at lying.”
I watched in horror as his heartlight slowly began to flash. I grasped him and pleaded with him, but he just smiled and shook his head. As I let go of him and looked at the ground, he spoke one final time.
“Remember to live, Reysa.”
I glanced back up at him, and his heartlight was now dark. I looked up and off into space as Matoran began to congregate around us. In every eye watching me was expressions of hatred and shame. I looked among them. I pleaded with them. I stared at Gar. I stared at the sky. I stared back at Gar. Then, I was back in the rebuilding chamber.
My horrible vision had ended.
I glared at Karzahni, and was about ready to attack him when he spoke.
“Don’t you understand?” he asked. “Your own incompetence saved your friend’s life. In my vision, I simply fixed one of the flaws in the design of your engine that made it less powerful, just like I have done with you.”
It was clear that Karzahni was baiting me to see how I would react; after all, most of the other Matoran he had encountered were probably too afraid to run from him. Nevertheless, it was too much for me to bear. I picked up a gear lying on the ground and I threw it at him.
Karzahni walked up to me and picked me up so that my Kanohi was frighteningly close to his. “Bring it on, Matoran,” he spat.
Karzahni dropped me to the ground. I knew what to expect, and braced myself. But nothing could have helped me to prepare for what was to come. As the world melted and shifted around me, I found myself on the other side of the room in excruciating pain. I knew deep down that it was just an illusion, but I couldn’t think any coherent thoughts. I just lay there, hopeless. I feel if the attack had lasted much longer it, combined with the pain of actually being rebuilt, would have shredded my mind. Eventually, however, Karzahni ceased in his assault. When the vision ended, he was staring at me from the corner of the room. I slowly moved toward the exit. He could have stopped me again, but he did not. For reasons that I still don’t quite understand, he let me go.
I ran and I ran, out into that cruel canyon and through the dusty haze as quickly as my new body would let me. When I finally stopped, I stood for several moments, gasping for air. I looked around at the dismal land around me, and my new, weaker legs gave out from under me. I was in the midst of a torrential downpour, and large puddles had formed everywhere. I looked down at one; staring up from it was a completely different Matoran wearing a completely different Kanohi. I felt my mask. I wasn’t hallucinating.
As I sat there, watching the rain fall and the lightning strike in the distance, I planned my revenge on Karzahni. I sat there for what could have been hours, listening and watching and plotting, thinking with dread about the events that had transpired. A seemingly normal gust of wind blew past me. But as it did so, I thought that I heard it whisper to me.
Remember to live, Reysa.
And as I thought about those words, I suddenly understood why that realm was so horrific. It was not its dangers. It was not the awful rebuilding process. It was the fact that, through all of those tortures, even the purest of beings could be made into a monster.
It was the fact that I was the monster, not Karzahni.
If I were the same being that I was when I arrived, I would have tried to comfort myself by construing Karzahni’s taunt about my flaws to mean it was good I made the engine less powerful than it could have been—otherwise Gar would not have survived. Then, I would have no doubt tried to convince myself that I deliberately made that engine that way.
But I’m not the same being. I now realize that I have spent my life trying to hide my mediocrity from myself with a façade of confidence and impatience. Karzahni was right. But only to a certain extent—he fixed a flaw to make the engine more powerful, but he did not stop it from blowing up. He did something similar with me—he rebuilt me to make me less powerful, but he did not stop my temper from rising.
The wind was right. I must stop hiding my flaws from myself and must instead acknowledge them. Only then I will be able to accomplish my Duty, fulfill my Destiny, and begin to truly prosper.
Although I have lost track of time while carving this, I know that it is time for me to face my fate and to live with the consequences of my actions. It is time for me to return to Gar, who has hopefully honored my request and has not yet left that wreck of a boat. Then, with or without him, I must return to Karzahni, to the frightened villagers, and to that paranoid Le-Matoran. Maybe we will find a way to leave this place. Maybe we won't. Only time will tell.
But your fate is still undecided. I am about to begin my journey back to meet Gar, and when I reach our landing site I will place this rock there for you to find. I hope that my misfortunes will help you to decide your path—whether you will leave and save yourself while you still can or if you will join me in that monster’s wasteland. But, no matter how to choose to proceed, I leave you with one simple request:
Remember to live.
Word count: 2,619
Edit: Fixed spacing of title and breaks (approved here)
Edit 2: Made ending less ambiguous and italicized a line (approved here); my original revision to the ending (the one that was approved) was missing a space between two sentences, which I have fixed as well, as it directly relates to the already-approved revisions
Edited by Infrared, Jan 04 2013 - 07:43 PM.