A Taste of Home
Le-Wahi air was always so full of life. Millions of insects provided a constant background hum, the air was always damp and heavy from the ever spritzing rains and trapped humidity beneath the massive jungle trees. And that wasn’t even getting into the smells. Earthy loam, sweet flowers, stale water, decomposing biomass. It all mixed together into an experience that you just couldn’t find anywhere else on Mata Nui.
It had been a while since Kale had scented this particular aroma. Months at the very least. Not since...the wedding? He’d sailed past it since then, sure. But actually trekking through it? It had been even longer since he had been to where he was currently traveling. At least a year, if not longer. Probably longer. Closer to two years in fact.
They were going to be so angry when he showed up unannounced.
Cobblestone clacked between his metal boots as the silver Toa scanned the foliage on the edge of the Le-Onu highway. He was close to his destination now. The tenth mile marker was behind him and the eleventh somewhere ahead. Somewhere along here would lie the path he sought. Assuming it hadn’t been overgrown yet again by the wahi’s ever encroaching plantlife. It had happened on occasion, when trips to one Koro or the other had been few and far between.
But not now it would seem. Up ahead, the foliage was cut away cleanly and a stone pillar had been erected beside the well trodden dirt path. Kale walked up to the carved stone and ran his hands over the clean letter engraved upon it. A smile raising one corner of his mouth as he read them.
This definitely hadn’t been here when he’d left. But he didn’t mind, it meant that the homestead was doing well. Just because he’d been too afraid to write didn’t mean that he hadn’t worried about them. Not with everything that had been going on in recent months.
With one last look at the marker stone he hitched his pack a few inches higher and turned down the dirt path. Apparently they hadn’t gotten around to paving it yet. Maybe that was in the works. Business had been very good if the marks on the jungle floor were anything to go by. What had once been black loam was now packed into brown dirt by a surprising number of feet. Wagon ruts were ringed by the dents of ussal claws. Here and there he could even spot the outline of Matoran and Toa.
For several minutes he traveled in relative silence. There was never true silence in Le-Wahi, but those that spent any length of time there knew how to ignore the constant drone. Silence wasn’t anything new to him. Kale had been traveling more or less silently ever since leaving Po-Koro a full week before. Even before then he’d spent a long time wandering Mata Nui with no one to keep him company. Now however, the silence ate at him. Every step closer added to the knot of tension that was forming in his neck. Coming home was supposed to be a happy event and the fact that Kale felt so nervous about it only added to the guilt eating at his guts..
He should have written more, stopped by when he was in the area. Something, anything more than just vanishing into the void and barely even acknowledging that his family existed. Now it was the better part of two years later and he’d had no contact with his family since leaving home. And yet...there had always been reasons for why he’d never done those things. He’d been traveling and there would be no way for a return letter to find him. Or he’d been busy running around the island as the First Mate of the Fowadi. Maybe those were excuses and maybe they weren’t. Maybe they were both. At the end of the day it had always boiled down to one final reason. He hadn’t wanted to be tempted to come home.
Any contact would have reminded him of the green grass of the glade. Of sharp morning air as they got the fires going. Long nights with warm cider and loving family. Of home. The place where he’d grown up. It was warmth, fun, safety, love, plenty. It was so much more than he could ever put into words. Home was a siren’s call that threatened to lull him into a sense of complacency from which he might never awaken.
That’s why he’d left. Kale had wanted to do things with his life. To get out and make a difference in an increasingly dark world. Ironshaper Homestead was far too isolated and remote. A little island of perfection in which one could pretend that everything was fine and that the world wasn’t falling apart at the seams. It was almost magical in a way. Something you’d hear about in a fairy tale.
His gaze slowly lifted from his unmoving feet. When had that happened? Several yards away stood a slim figure. Silver armor much like his own covered a young Toa with a shocked look on her face. Wide yellow eyes stared out at him from her angular Rhode, the swept back crest quivering. As he met those eyes with his own green pair the heavy machete in her hand dropped to the ground and she leapt at him with a cry.
He barely had time to brace before she crashed into him. She might have been smaller than him but she certainly knew how to build momentum. Staggering back a step, his arms reflexively wrapped around his assailant while slightly wheezy chuckle escaped his lips.
“Good to see you too, Dahlia.”
Any further words were driven from his lungs in a whoosh of air as a metal fist smashed into his stomach. The slight figure slipped from his arms as he doubled over and desperately tried to suck in air, his mind reeling. Not at the fact she’d hit him. No, he’d rather expected something of that sort. But rather that the power behind that blow had been way higher than she should have been able to manage from that position.
“Where the #### have you been Kale? Two years, two karzing years and nothing!” From where he leaned over Kale could see one of the grey boots swing back as if readying for a kick. It paused for a second, then returned to the ground. Dahlia’s next words were much quieter. “I thought you dead. Lying in a ditch somewhere on the side of the road. Not even a letter. Is it so hard to write a couple circles?”
Finally catching his breath, Kale straightened and looked up at his younger sister. Twin golden orbs blazed at him with a roiling storm of emotions. Anger was predominant, but he could also see worry, relief, and a few others too subtle to make out. He knew she was using her mask. There would be no hiding the truth from her. No subtle evasion or half truth to placate her.
Had this scene taken place but a few months ago he’d have shied away. Looked aside, unable to meet the accusation he saw there. His time had not been spent in idle wander, however. Kale had grown over the last two years, most especially since taking position as the first mate of the Fowadi. So he met those miniature suns and let the quip building on his tongue die. Replacing it with what needed to be said.
“You’re right, I should have sent a letter at the very least. I’m sorry for leaving you all in suspense for so long. Regardless of how busy I’ve been it’s something that I should have seen to months ago.”
As he spoke, Dahlia’s eye’s bore into his with that particular look they got whenever she was judging the veracity of their words. They narrowed as he finished speaking and she spun around, calling her dropped blade to her hand with a thought.
“Come on then. Mom and Dad will want to know you aren’t a rotting corpse in some Onu-Koro alleyway.”
With a wince and a hand gingerly rubbing at what was probably going to turn into a very impressive bruise, Kale followed his still rather irate sister.
Reuniting with the rest of his family was a much less violent affair, if not a quieter one. Voices were raised in curiosity at Dahlia’s quick return, then surprise at her companion, and finally a clamor of excited words as the news spread through the small community. Ironshaper homestead was set within a good sized clearing in the Le-Wahi jungles. Trees and large shrubs had been cleared in an ever widening circle as new buildings were added. Five of said buildings of various sizes lay scattered across the soft grass. Although Kale could see the foundations for what he guessed was going to be a new workshop, if the size was any indication.
People appeared in ones and two from various locations. Most trickled out of the various buildings, although a pair of Matoran did come out of the surrounding foliage with arms full of firewood. When the crowd had stopped gather, almost fifteen people of both short and tall stature milled around the silver Toa. Joyful greetings were called out, handshakes, claps on the back, and hugs were exchanged. A joyful atmosphere filled the large clearing as the inhabitants rejoiced in the return of one of their own. It was almost enough to put Kale at ease.
Not entirely though. When he saw two particular figures approaching from the largest building his stomach dropped and he had to resist the urge to disappear into the jungle. The taller of the two was a Toa of intermediate years and solid build. His armor was unadorned but still sleek and bright. Deep emerald eyes stared keenly out from behind an Akaku, upon which was the only hint of decoration lay. A rippling series of lines flowed above the left eye live as if in imitation of flowing water.
Next to him strode a woman of similar age and only slightly shorter size. Her armor was the same beep blue as the ocean when the shore is but a distant haze, accompanying an angularity that suggested the clean lines of a Takea shark. Bright golden eyes glimmered from behind a sleek Kakama, an embossed anvil above her right eye.
Adaman and Lillian Ironshaper, Kale’s father and mother.
The crowd fell silent as the pair arrived and for a couple seconds there was silence. Kale awkwardly stepped forward and cleared his throat to speak. His mouth opened and closed several times before he was able to settle on something to say.
“Uh..Hi Mom, Dad. Long time no see. Um, I’m ho-”
Before he could finish talking his mother had wrapped him in a hug, followed shortly after by Adaman.
It wasn’t a long hug, but it wasn’t a short one either. In fact it probably would have gone on for much longer if his mom hadn’t disentangled herself and held him at arms length so she could ask the question that was probably running through the mind of everyone else there.
“Where have you been. We were worried sick!”
“Ah, well.” Kale said, reaching up to scratch the back of his neck, his hand clanging into the large stave hooked to his pack. “That’s a rather long story. Do you mind if I get myself settled in first? Assuming you haven’t turned my old room into extra storage that is.”
Lillian’s eyebrow rose as she took in the ornately carved rahkshi weapon sticking above his shoulder, then looked down at her son, eyebrow still raised. “So it would seem. Get yourself unpacked then. We were about to call everyone for dinner so come join us when you are ready. Dahlia!” She called out to the young woman lurking at the edge of the crowd. “Help your brother out. He’s going to need help moving all those practice dummies you’ve filled his room with.”
Turning to face the aforementioned sibling, Kale raised an eyebrow of his own.The stare he got back was one part embarrassment and one part defiance. Mostly defiance though. With a toss of her head, she turned and headed toward the large log house at the center of the clearing. Kale shrugged to himself and followed with a chuckle.
Reaching his room didn’t take long. Both of them were intimately familiar with the darkly stained planks that formed the interior walls of the log house. So it was only a minute or two later that Dahlia pushed open the door to his room and led the way inside. Kale followed a moment later and then blinked in surprise at what he found. All his stuff was still there sure, but most of it had been pushed up against one wall. The skeletal frame of his bed stood end up in a corner. His dresser shoved next to it and accompanied by a carefully stacked series of boxes that presumably held the rest of his stuff.
What took up the newly freed space was a series of heavy practice dummies and related equipment. Some were obviously caricatures of various species, Matoran, Toa, Skakdi. Others were more abstract. Like the thick wooden pole with the various smaller poles sticking out at various angles. Many of the dummies were also in very poor condition. The Skakdi’s left arm was dangling by a few trailing fibers and heavy splintering could be seen on the torso. The Toa dummy was apparently in the middle of disintegrating, It’s head having been punched clean off into the wall behind it, if a suspiciously new dent in said wall was to be believed.
“Well,” Kale said as he settled his pack onto the pile of boxes with a thud. “This is new. Did you uhhh...switch to a Pakari after I left or something? You’re punch back in on the trail was weird as well. I know you certainly couldn’t do that, “And here he gestured to the broken Toa dummy and its corresponding dent in the wall. “When I was here last.”
Embarrassment flashed across his sister’s face for a second as he pointed, quickly chased away by more defiance and...was that pride? She grinned back at him with a savage flare in her eyes. Something shifted in her stance and she strode over to the hulking Skakdi stand-in. There was something odd about her movements. They were just a hair too smooth, a hair too fast for the casual nature with which she walked.
When she reached her target she grinned that feral grin at him one more time before grabbing the dummy around the waist and hefting it over a shoulder with barely a grunt. Kale eye’s widened as he watched her casually carry it over to an unoccupied corner of the room and set it down with a thud. That thing was solid hardwood and must have weighed as much as a real life example of the species.
“You know how mom’s always talking about how there’s no difference between a Toa and their element? It got me thinking, it’s rather more literal for us than for most other Toa.” She said, tapping a naturally armored forearm. “I figured, ‘If I can move other metal, why not myself?’ And guess what? I can!” The smile was less feral this time. The simple joy at having accomplished a significant feat radiated from her like the light from a campfire. “It took a while to get the hang of it but now I can merge my physical will and my elemental will whenever I want.”
Kale grinned back because what she had done was (in his opinion) absolutely awesome. It was an extension of what their mother called ‘Elemental Transcendence,’ the idea that the line between a Toa and their element was much more blurred than most realized. There was no point where one stopped and the other started. Instead they were parts of a greater whole. Every piece of their element in the surrounding area was as much a part of the user as their own body. The element was the Toa and the Toa was the element.
In his experience it was a fairly rare technique. He’d never actually met someone who used it outside of his family, although he had heard stories of others. The reasons were myriad. Many people had simply never heard of it. Some had, but simply thought it too philosophical for practical use. Add onto that the fact that some elements were easier to use with it than others (such as Iron and Water vs. Stone) and it’s rarity made sense.
This time it was Kale who blurred across the space between him and Dahlia, wrapping her up in a hug and laughing in joy. Not wanting to get punched again, he quickly disengaged and stepped out of range. His sister looked annoyed at him, but this time it was the old annoyance he had seen so many times growing up rather than the defiant glares that he’d been faced with since coming back. With the grin still on his face Kale turned to the ruined visage of the wooden Toa.
Setting his feet into a combat stance he lifted his hands in a guard position and shifted several times. Once he felt he had the form down the silver Toa reached with his senses. He used Elemental Transcendence as well, their mother had taught all her children as much as they could understand. However his style was primarily externally focused rather than Dahlia’s internal. Of course that didn’t mean he couldn’t do the same things she did, the theory was simple enough after all. If he could jus-
His hand had shot out and slammed into the dense wood of his target with much more force than he’d intended. Now, Kale was jumping around the room while a flurry of curses spilled from his mouth and he desperately clutched at his injured arm.
Dahlia on the other hand was doubled over in laughter. Tears of mirth blurred her vision as sounds of pain and hilarity filled the room. Eventually the two settled down enough for the shorter of the pair to step forward to take the injured limb in her hands. She reached out with her will and probed around the impact zone. Here and there, hairline fractures spiderwebbed through the metal bones of Kale’s arm. An easy enough fix for those who knew how but still extremely painful. Power rushed out of her and the cracks closed, earning a sigh of relief from her brother.
“Thanks Dahlia. Guess it’s not as easy as it sounded.” He was still rubbing his right arm. The main issues might have been dealt with but there was still a lot of tissue bruising. Full healing was going to take time or help from someone else.
“This took me months to figure out how to use without hurting myself.” Dahlia said with a chuckle. “While my technique might mimic some of the effects of various masks it lacks many of the secondary abilities that allow them to be used to their full extent. Extra speed without extra reflexes. Extra strength without the supernatural reinforcement of a Pakari. Go too far with this and you’ll turn yourself into a pile of broken metal.”
“Heh. You don’t know the half of it. I lost count of how many times Mom and Dad had to patch me up.”
Both of their heads turned at the sound of a bell ringing from somewhere near the front of the house. It was accompanied by the clear sound of their mother’s voice.
“Sounds like the food’s ready.” Said Kale, flexing his fingers one last time. He heaved a sigh before turning to the door. “Time to face the music.”
The sounds of voices raised in happy clamor met the pair as they traversed the house’s extensive hallways. Every now and then the sound of a door opening and closing joined the chorus as people came in from their work. By the time they reached the dining hall it had reached such a crescendo that one almost had to shout in order to be heard. The noise only increased once Kale entered the room. Everyone in the homestead was there and their voices raised once more in greeting as they saw him. He had to force himself not to flinch as the noise hit him like a solid wall. The room was big, but it wasn’t that big.
Calling it a room wasn’t completely accurate. It was more like a small hall. Arches of what appeared to be black iron supported a high ceiling of jungle wood covered in dark resin. The walls were of similar construction with lightstones set into the metal supports every few yards. Down the center of the hall ran a long table of varnished tan wood, likely from the surrounding forest. Around that table sat an almost random collection of chairs. Some were obviously part of a set, but others looked as if they had been individual purchases or thrown together locally. Upon the table sat a bountiful collection of platters. Each one was piled high with a variety of dishes. Fruit from the jungle, vegetables from the garden, fresh bread from imported flour, and what appeared to be a wild boar.
All together the place was just as homey and inviting as Kale remembered it. He’d spent a lot of time in here as a kid, both eating his own body weight in a variety of foods and by himself. It provided a good place to sit and think alone in the middle of the day, since most of the others were busy working at that time. It was where he had made the decision to leave as a matter of fact.
Now, it was filled with people. His entire family was there, silver and blue mixing light like glinting in a stream. His father’s hired helpers were there as well. Several skilled Onu-Matoran smiths and their apprentices or families. It was a riot of various colors, smells, and sounds.
Once again people crowded around him, greeting him, slapping him on the back and welcoming him home, or asking what he’d been up to. It was like back when he’d first shown up only worse because of the enclosed space. Thankfully, Kale had gained some experience with crowds in his time with the Aggressors and before long people were dispersing to take their seats at the table.
Seating at the table was usually about as haphazard as the chairs themselves. Usually it followed a rough rule of age, which meant that the kids could safely goof off at one end of the table without disturbing their elders at the other. This meant that Kale was closer to the head of the table where his father sat, Dahlia to his left and one of the master smiths to his right.
Grace was said and the crowd dug in with the fervor of people who’d had a long day of physical labor. It was all good, wholesome food and for a time people were too busy enjoying themselves to talk much. But the relative quiet could not last forever and eventually Adaman sat back with a sigh.
“Well Kale, you’ve had some time to unwind. I think it’s time you told us what you’ve been doing for the past two years. You never hid your intention to leave and find your place in the world, but you also never sent word since you left. We were worried about you.”
Kale leaned back in a move much like that of his father’s. What to say...what could he tell them? There were some things in his tale that were not his to tell. Personal stories of others in which he was but a side character. But...most of it. He could tell them most of what he’d been through. So he did. It was a tale long in the telling. Hours went by as words rolled off of his tongue, from when he’d first left, to wander the island. Showing up after the destruction of the Ta-Koro hospital. Wandering once more until he joined the Aggressors. His many adventures with them and then finally, his infiltration of the Worshiper held Ko-Koro.
By the time he had finished talking night had fallen and everyone else had long since emptied their plates. None of them had left though. This was a tale that they had oft wondered about of late and none of them wanted to miss the telling.
“With the recent quiet I decided that it was time for a visit. Like you’ve all been saying, I haven’t been home for a while and...I also needed a favor.” This last comment was directed awkwardly towards Adaman, who raised an eyebrow. “My fight in Ko-Koro made me realize that I’m not capable of properly protecting those close to me. Throwing metal at people is fine and all but what happens when I run into somebody who can counter that? I’m too limited in my repertoire. I need more options if I’m to continue down my current path.”
“I want you to turn my rahkshi staff into a usable weapon. Right now it’s sized and balanced for the monster that originally wielded it. I can’t do it myself because it’s immune to elemental manipulation. But,” And here he nodded to the smiths around the table. “It’s not immune to more natural methods of heating and manipulation. I’m sure you can see the utility of such a weapon and there people who can teach me how to use it once you’ve finished.”
Adaman nodded and rubbed his chin. A vague look entered his eyes as he remembered the weapon Kale had entered the homestead with. When his gaze returned to normal the twin green orbs settled on Kale with a serious look.
“It’s possible yes. I can even see the logic in your thoughts. But...are you sure you want to continue down this path? I don’t mind admitting that hearing what you’ve gone through terrified me. I’m happy that you’ve met people you can call comrades but this road you’ve embarked on could end in your death.”
Kale sighed. They’d had a similar conversation before he’d left. He knew that his father was just worried about him but it still grated. Adaman’s somewhat overwhelming desire to keep him and all the other kids safe had been one of the elements that had pushed him to leave and not even write a letter until now.
“It’s too late for me to back down now. People are counting on me. I have responsibilities, duties that need to be fulfilled. You know that I can’t just quietly sit around in some safe corner of the island while there are people out there who need help. Sure there are others who can help, but that’s only because they don’t hide and pass the buck. How can I do any less when I have the skills to do otherwise?”
Adaman was about to reply when Lillian placed a hand on his arm.
“We all must find our own Destiny. It is clear that Kale’s will not not be one of peaceful contemplation or craftsmanship. Even though I fear for him I take heart in the fact that he has worthy companions by his side. Our boy has grown into a fine man. It is time for you to accept that fact.”
Green eyes met golden as unspoken messages passed between the pair. Nobody but they knew what was said in those silent moments. Some agreement was reached and Adaman turned back to the rest of the table with a sigh.
“Alright Kale. I can’t convince you to take the safer trail so I should at least make sure you have what you need for the path you have chosen.”
He stayed for a week after that. Making a personalized weapon for someone required significant measurements and adjustments. Oftentimes a client would stay for a day in order to get measurements taken and then leave. Since Kale wasn’t in a rush there was no reason not to stay and get all the details just right. Plus, despite his hesitation to come back he genuinely missed his family. Each one had their own quirks and sometimes they clashed, but he loved them all the same.
So the silver Sentinel took a well earned vacation. Whenever he wasn’t in the forge helping his father and the smiths he was playing with the younger children or ‘practicing’ with Dahlia. Of the two activities Kale much preferred the former. Dahlia took far too much glee in his pain for his liking. She hadn’t been joking about the cost of her technique either. He’d likely have maimed himself for life if there weren’t people around who knew how to heal him. Even if one of them always seemed to forget that painkillers existed.
The Ironshapers were a big family, as might have been guessed by their equally sizable house. So whenever he’d had enough of his sister’s totally-not-revenge training regime Kale could always find a hidden corner to share with someone much more interested in enjoying their eldest brother’s company than making him suffer. That was probably the part of his stay that he enjoyed the most. Sometimes he’d hide in a table fort with some of the younger children, blankets and pillows piled around them, a pilfered lightsone set on a protruding chair seat. He’d tell them stories of action and grand adventure he’d heard from others on his travels (the one love story he’d tried was met by scrunched faces and disgusted noises by the prepubescent munchkins.) Sometimes they’d stay awake through the whole tale, other times he’d have to quietly carry a sleeping form to their room.
Often he’d join the older children in their helter skelter dashes through the surrounding jungle. Taking part in those games was admittedly, not very fair and he had to make sure not to win too often.Still, everyone involved had a blast and he was able to impart a few tricks and techniques as they all hunted each other through the dense undergrowth.
Time passed all too quickly in the secluded clearing. Here, the outside world was a faraway place. It was quiet and peaceful. Quaint during the day and breathtaking at night. Artfully grown lightvines on the buildings competed with the thousands of fireflies in the foliage while overheard millions of stars winked in silent amusement. Within this place time ceased to matter. One day slipped easily into the next with little difference to those living within.
So it was with a certain level of surprise that Kale followed one of the apprentice blacksmiths into the forge. He hadn’t been allowed in once the design was finalized yester...no, no it had been the day before yesterday. What he found was a bit surprising which, he supposed, had been the point. Well placed lightstones provided enough illumination to that seeing was not an issue even after having just been outside. On the right was a wall covered in shelves full of well worn tools. To the left was a table filled with finished and half finished projects. Directly opposite the door lay the forge itself. A cleverly constructed piece of equipment that had cost his father quite a bit to have built. Heatstones were worked into the interior walls in such a way that one hardly had to add external heat to work. The center of the room was taken up by an anvil so large it had more in common with a table than it did with most of its brethren.
Adaman Ironshaper and his primary employees stood next to that anvil with self satisfied smiles on their faces. Tattered burlap was set over the metal block, hiding several objects that formed a series of conspicuous lumps. Kale looked at the trio with a bemused smile.
“I take it you’ve finished?”
“That we have.” The other man said as he took hold of a corner of the burlap. His next words were accompanied by the whoosh of air as he swept the cloth off with a flourish. “Some of my finest work to date. What do you think?”
A staff and quartet of broad daggers lay on the grey metal slab. They were works of art as much as weapons. The staff was a bit under eight feet tall and carved with flowing lines that drew the eye. Whirls and eddies slipped around the silver pole in endless loops. It was like looking at the hidden currents in deep waters. When Kale checked one end of the staff he found a hole drilled a solid six inches in, the inner edge lined with spiral ridges.
The daggers were no less impressive. In overall shape they were identical. Each one was eighteen inches from the tip of the blade to the knob of the handle. A handle that he could feel was, if not fake, then at least hiding something. He couldn’t feel the metal that had formerly been a rahkshi staff but he could feel where the much more normal metal of the handle wrapped around something solid. It felt much like the corkscrew design on the inside of the staff. That made sense.The knives were designed to be able to screw into the quarterstaff and turn it into a spear. Obviously they wouldn’t be much use as melee weapons if the user had to hold onto relatively thin screws so Adaman had decided to hide the feature inside fully metal hilts. A Toa of Iron could simply absorb or remove those hilts at need.
Each dagger also came with an extra inch and a half of crossguard on either side of the three inch blade. In the center of that crossguard each dagger had a unique swirling pattern. Once more the thought came to mind of the unseen currents of deep waters. Everyone one of these knives echoed those hidden eddies. Dangerous, but beautiful if one could take the time to perceive them.
As Kale ran his hands over the last item his father spoke once more. “I know I haven’t been the most supportive of your endeavors. Not when you first decided to leave and not after you came back. But...I just want you to know that I’ve always been proud of you. You made your own decisions and did whatever the karz you wanted regardless of if I thought it was safe or not. And you’ve done amazing things. I-I’m not a brave man, or good with words or emotions.” He said with a chuckle and a shake of his head. “Those were always Lillian’s area. Those and a lot of other things.”
“For me it’s always been this.” Here he waved a hand at the forge around them. At the newly created weapons on the table. “This is how I express myself. How I help others. Put me on a battlefield and I’ll probably stab myself accidentally. Ask me to lead Guards and I’d be abandoned within a month. Why your mother married me I’ll never know. “Another self deprecating chuckle. “But I’m rambling now. What I mean to say is, take these and go with my blessing. You should have had it the first time you left. I only hope that you can forgive me for waiting until now to give it.”
Sudden wetness clouded the younger Fe-toa’s eyes as he stared at the carven staff. His fingers tracing its clean lines. Hours of dedication had gone into making these gorgeous pieces of art. In such a short amount of time his father had rendered masterpieces in what had once been an item of dark power. Now Kale could feel the oceans of love that had been poured into the work. It lay in every ripple, flowed with every curving line. He’d had many disagreements with the older man over the years. It had been especially bad right before he’d left. They’d argued the night before and he’d been fuming as he trudged down the path to the highway.
Every son wants the approval of their father. They might fight, argue, or come to hate one another. But deep down that boyhood desire for the man he looks up to to say, “Well done,” remains. It just gets deeper and deeper as time passes. Kale didn’t realize how much he’d missed that feeling of validation. A flood of emotion brought more tears to his eyes and he was almost blind when he turned to his father and gathered him in as tight a hug as he could manage. The one he got in return was just as tight.
“Of course, Dad”
The words were choked, both because he could barely breath and because his vocal cords weren’t doing what he wanted them too. Kale’s home was on the Fowadi. Helping to lead the Aggressors and keep Mata Nui safe. But it was also here, in a hidden vale in the Le-Wahi jungles, and it would always be waiting for him.