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Eyru

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Year 16

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  1. IC: Taja | Grand Temple Ruins Taja ignored the Administrator, still feeling out with her shadow-sense for anything interesting. But nothing turned up: as far as she could tell, the pipes were empty. There were no signs of even plant life or cobwebs; they were unnaturally clean, especially when compared to the rest of the temple, which was in a general state of disrepair. Opening her eyes, the Toa walked over to the funnel that extended out from the series of black pipes. It seemed designed to receive something and transport it through the system. What was it designed to receive? She didn't know, and there was no telling if the answer was even here to be found. Apex could read the writing on the floor, but the elder Aspect hadn't said anything about the pipes. They seemed more concerned with the writing itself; perhaps the carvings had nothing to do with this puzzle, and were simply histories or rituals that happened to share a room. There was only one way to find out what the pipes did, and that was to use them. Taja raised an open hand and stared at her palm. Once again, she was reminded that her body had changed. Even the shapes of her fingers were different; there was nothing familiar about them at all. She felt a little nauseated, but she forced the feeling down and focused on her hand. Every groove and crevice held its own small shadow, and she pulled them together into a circle that settled in her palm. Reaching deep within herself, she tapped into that spring of power whose limits she had yet to fully test. She allowed that power to well up and feed the shadow in her hand as she had done before in the desert. But instead of making the shadow larger in only two dimensions, she forced it to expand into the third dimension, and the circle of darkness slowly bubbled up into a sphere. It was uneven and ragged at first, but with a thought its surface became smooth as glass. It was opaque and utterly black; it sucked up all the light that fell upon it, making it look more like a hole in reality than an actual object she could hold in her hand. Looking back at the funnel, Taja wondered if this was a wise plan. Who knew what might happen if she put pure elemental energy into these pipes? Especially shadow energy—the Administrator had already announced its disdain for her element. But she didn't have any other ideas, and she hadn't come this far just to give up in the face of an apparent dead end. So she raised her hand and fired the bolt of darkness into the black funnel. OOC: @Unreliable Narrator
  2. IC: Taja | Grand Temple Ruins The Toa brushed aside the Aspect's haughty remark. "You're right. And I won't pretend we're suddenly friends. But this—" she vaguely indicated with one hand. "—Administrator obviously holds all of us in equal contempt. So we might as well work together. For now, at least." Closing her eyes, Taja reached out with her shadow-sense. She pushed her senses into the darkness of the pipes, searching for where they might lead or what they might contain. OOC: @Sparticus147 @Unreliable Narrator
  3. IC: Taja | Grand Temple Ruins One of the glyphs floated slightly above the floor, unlike the others carved directly into the stone. Taja hadn't seen it before, but something about it seemed... incomplete. Its fragmented nature seemed to transcend her ignorance of the symbol itself. Apex was ignoring her, and Taja was fine with that. But she had a feeling they needed to work together. Could the elder Aspect read this strange script that patterned the floor? "What did you find in the other room?" she asked. OOC: @Sparticus147 @Unreliable Narrator IC: Tuakana | The Desert They traveled towards the setting sun. Their little cousin's voice came from afar. “Tuakana I … I know you wish to prevent death. If it is at all possible, if you find refugees from the gigantic head, please warn them about that beast. It … I don’t even know if the Skakdi who butchered my people deserve to face that monstrosity.” They chewed her words as they strode. Nothing could stand against the horror birthed from the mountain. Nothing that existed now. A ghost of a memory suggested that, once, there had been an entity strong enough to hold its own. The two powers had clashed in a past age. Their struggle froze the earth and scorched the sky. A warning would do little in the face of that. “I … I do not remember the ways of my people much, but I recall what your Great Work was. And I think I remember that great works require different steps to be completed. If I may be so bold, what do you need to get closer to becoming the master of time and death? Is there a way I could help?” The words came almost faster than they could understand. They were silent for a long time. They digested the question. "Great works... require great power," they replied at last. "And the Disks may be the source. I seek the secret of their making... in the fallen head." They fell quiet again, ever moving west. Their knuckles thumped the ground in a ceaseless rhythm. "Seek the Disks," they said. "The strongest ones. The great ones." OOC: @Harvali
  4. IC: Tuakana | The Desert They travelled across the sands, and the sun and stars wheeled overhead. Time passed. Time was the enemy of life, and even they could not stop it. Not yet. The fallen head loomed over the western horizon and grew larger as they approached. They did not grow anxious or impatient. They strode steadily, always moving at the same pace, neither lagging nor hurrying. They simply moved. The sand beneath their knuckles became thin soil. The blazing sun began to set behind the mountainous skull. IC: Taja | Grand Temple Ruins The hallway eventually opened up into a wide, dimly lit room. The left wall was decorated with a series of black pipes, and the ceiling with white. Strange, alien glyphs were written on the floor, and the right wall was bare. But it was the back wall that caught Taja's attention. She experience a rush of vertigo for a moment; it felt like she was looking up at the night sky, beholding the vast expanse of stars and celestial bodies. She looked carefully for any constellations she might recognize, although she was hardly optimistic. "What purpose does this room serve?" she asked, only half-expecting the Administrator to answer. OOC: @Unreliable Narrator @Nato the Traveler @Sparticus147
  5. IC: Taja | Grand Temple Ruins Worthy? Who knew what that meant. Already, Taja knew that this island played by different rules, and even the Aspects seemed put off by this disembodied voice. Its idea of "worthy" could mean anything. Nevertheless, she was wiling to play by its rules. She brushed off the comments about her transformation. She ignored the haughty tone that riled even Whisper. She breathed in the warm jungle air and breathed it out. She kept her cool. "Thank you for your hospitality," she said. "I'll do my best." Apex and Morangad had each taken a doorway for themselves, so Taja chose the leftmost path. Stepping carefully around the pool with the gleaming lotus flower (so white it made her eyes ache), she walked into the cool hallway. Her eyes moved over the stone walls, taking in the arcane hieroglyphs and ancient etchings whose meanings had been lost to time. OOC: @Unreliable Narrator what's in the next room? IC: Tuakana | Ash Barrens They loped across the land. Strings of moss swayed with each stride, and the stars turned overhead. IC: Oreius | Throne Room, the Coliseum It was like watching looped security footage. Stannis spoke, and every word was an echo, reminding Oreius of a speech he had heard a thousand years ago. What do you wish for? That question was a trap, wreathed in sweet smoke to hide the danger. Half-mad with grief, Oreius had not known what he wished for even as he wished it. At least, that was what he told himself. That was the story he had rehearsed ever since that fateful day to justify his blasphemy. The alternative was too terrible to contemplate, so he believed it. He had not known. He had been tricked. Stannis had found him at his darkest point and coaxed him into a trap that hinged on those seemingly-insignificant words: What do you wish for? What does anyone wish for? Power, riches, fame, love... all mere shadows of the one true wish: to change. To remake the world. To look upon reality and change its shape, to smooth its edges and round its corners according to your own desires. And that was the greatest blasphemy of all: to behold a world crafted by the Great Spirit and deem it imperfect. To pretend to be equal to the grand Creator, the supreme Architect... it was folly. That was the trap. Stannis used smooth words to hide his heresy. Every wish granted was an affront to Mata Nui himself. Oreius knew better now, but he was powerless to intervene. His tongue was bound by an ancient oath, and his limbs by an unbreakable promise. So he merely stood and observed in silent horror, watching history repeat itself.
  6. IC: Taja | Grand Temple Ruins "I'm Taja," the Toa said. She didn't have any idea who (or what) was speaking, but she wasn't going to trust them with anything more than her name. "And if you want peace, then we're on the same side." She looked around at this first antechamber, decorated with creeping plant life and carpeted with centuries of dust and fallen leaves. "We're not here to cause trouble. Just looking for answers."
  7. IC: Taja | Grand Temple Ruins "Truly, I apologize for her words," Morangad said, sounding a little disappointed. "I do not desire a conflict here; if my companion's conduct makes an alliance impossible, then let us at least agree not to be enemies. I do not know your goals, but your nature leads me to assume that they do not run counter to our own." ...fair enough. Taja allowed herself to relax a bit more. This Morangad seemed level-headed enough, and he appeared to be genuinely sorry for the poor first impression. And he had a point: they were about to enter a mysterious temple full of unknown dangers, so it would be foolish to make enemies now. "Apology accepted," Taja said, lowering her weapon to her side. "We don't want to be enemies either. We just don't take kindly to people sneaking up on us." She looked at the temple, standing tall and silent in the moonlight. "As for our goals... unless you plan to attack my people like the northern Skakdi tribes, then we have no quarrel." IC: Tuakana | Ash Barrens Strong enough? they replied wordlessly. Yes. In time. They pondered this new development for a long minute. The ground under their knuckles was now less ash and more dirt. They did not notice. One thought at a time. The cycle continues, they said at last. What once came now comes again. But something has changed... They paused in their stride, then turned their mossy shoulders to the west. They looked out over the barren land, then began to lope towards the setting sun. Unto the new, they whispered. The fallen city. There may answers be found. IC: Oreius | Throne Room, the Coliseum Were he not bound by his ancient promise, Oreius would have turned Stannis to cinders for that. Stay out of my head! he wanted to scream. He glared at the old man, who pretended to be oblivious. Ever the puppetmaster, pulling strings to keep the balance. Ever careful to preserve the appearance of fairness while keeping a toe on the scale. He looked at Rose and Skyra. He had thought they would understand. They were soldiers too, weren't they? Hadn't they sworn to protect their home? And now they would abandon it to another usurper just so the war would end? He bit back a curse. There could never be peace without justice. There could never be peace until the League answered for the blood of innocents and the death of a universe. Even if he laid down his weapons here and now, it would not be a true peace. As long as evil existed, war would surely come again. The only solution was to root out every last trace of the cancer and burn it to ashes. Only then could there be peace. The odds were against him. His allies were wounded or full of doubt, and they would not help him. He knew this feeling well: it was not the first time he had stood alone against an enemy. Mata Nui had blessed him with an unyielding spirit, but it was also a curse. He was the only one who would rather break than bend. He was the only one with enough determination to doggedly pursue evil and exterminate it wherever it might be found. There is no such thing as middle ground, he recalled a Turaga saying once. There is solid ground, and there is unstable ground. Truth and falsehood. Light and dark. A wise man builds his house on solid ground, and sleeps sound, trusting in his firm foundation. A foolish man builds his house on sand. When the winds come and the rains fall, his foundation does not hold. It falls, and great is the fall of it. The lesson? Never compromise. Hold fast, even to the end of the world. Oreius lifted his eyes to meet Aurax's. He was a soldier, and he knew when to retreat. But the war was not over. He would be back, and he would finish what the League had started. This was not peace: it was just a temporary ceasefire. He would burn this city clean of all impurities. Starting with the usurper. "Very well," he said quietly. His voice was cold, but he sheathed his sword and stepped back. "Let us have peace."
  8. It seems fair to me. You two have already put an incredible amount of thought and effort into the process, so I think Sidra and Viltia should be allowed to progress. You've already written thousands of words describing their frustrations and successes. It's far more work than anyone else has put into acquiring Great Disks. Obviously, it's up to the GMs. But I, for one, wouldn't be upset if you jammed out a post that brings them to a reasonable level of skill in Kanoka forging. Of course, they shouldn't suddenly be masters who can whip up a Great Disk in ten minutes. But bringing them to the level of decently skilled crafters who know what they're doing? Sounds good to me.
  9. IC: Tuakana | Ash Barrens As they loped north, they looked once again through their little sibling's eyes. They saw— ...a storm, an unnatural tsunami and typhoon ... the land chewed up by the water, eroded into a paste as the rain pounded and deformed the world. The water ripped and tore with a violence beyond any Skakdi raiding party, cleaving the world like it was glass before the scythe... and within that maelstrom was something monstrous. Thick with scales and terrible claws, it looked over the storm as it bellowed... They did not feel fear. Fear is an emotion felt by lesser creatures. It precedes loss. Injury. Death. Concepts foreign to them—they had known neither loss nor injury, and if there was yet hope of breaking the cycle, they would not know death. They were eldest. This was their birthright. But they saw something in those shining scales, and in the forked lightning. They heard it in the thundering roar. It moved in the centre of the maelstrom, veiled in lashing rain. It was death they saw. And they were afraid. @Harvali IC: Taja | Grand Temple Ruins Delusions of self-importance, indeed. The Toa felt no small satisfaction as she watched the larger Aspect retreat to the ruins. Her heartbeat thundered in her ears—so this is what strength feels like. Even after becoming a Toa, she had remained a Matoran at heart, timid and quiet. But she was Matoran no longer. She was a Toa—no, she was more than a Toa. She had undergone a metamorphosis and emerged stronger than ever. She was becoming the warrior her people needed. In time, she knew she would be powerful enough to defend them from any harm. The ruins still beckoned with whispers of greater power. But first, they needed to settle with these newcomers. One had retreated. One remained. Taja lowered her weapon a little, not fully dropping her guard, but no longer openly aggressive. @Burnmad @Sparticus147 @Nato the Traveler
  10. IC: Taja | Grand Temple Ruins Tensions were running high. It didn't help when Taja sensed a second being approaching out of the trees. Was this one of the Aspect's minions? She wasn't sure she and Whisper could take the Rahi-like creature together, let alone an even two-on-two fight. But if there was no other option... "Be calm, all," the stranger said, obviously trying to defuse the situation. "There is no reason that we should make enemies of each other before even learning each other's aims." He stepped forward, revealing himself to be a Toa-like being, and extended a fist as if in greeting. "I am Morangad, and my companion is called Apex. We, too, have come to investigate this temple." Taja did not lower her weapon, and did not extend her fist in return. "You'll forgive me if we skip the pleasantries, Morangad. Your companion has given us little reason to trust you."
  11. IC: Tuakana | Ash Barrens They continued to lope across the barren land, their eyeless face turned north.
  12. IC: Tuakana | Ash Barrens As they moved beneath the gray sky, they looked through the eyes of the one they had desecrated. The skeletal trees and ashen ground was replaced by endless blue skies and golden sand. They turned to the north, continuing their implacable stride. They would find her. Searching, they replied wordlessly, by way of explanation. We grow closer, little sister. What else have you heard of this fallen head? It may be the key to breaking the cycle. @Harvali IC: Oreius | Throne Room, the Coliseum "A pretty speech," Oreius said dismissively, his sword still raised. "But it changes nothing." Despite himself, he felt oddly sympathetic to Aurax's point of view. Were any of it true, he might have been able to empathize with the other Toa. But he saw through Aurax's self-deception. All these petty justifications were pathetic lies. The Matoran had never oppressed other races. Mata Nui had set the universe in order, so they did their best to preserve that divine hierarchy. If only the Barraki had accepted their god-given place in the world, there would have been peace. But they were greedy, hungry for power. They took more than was allotted them. They overreached, and so they had been cut down. But even in their falling, their blasphemy had taken the universe with them. He steeled himself against any further empathy. He reminded himself that this man was a traitor—a Toa who had taken up arms against his own kind. He had supported an insurrection, and had only turned against Pridak when the warlord was of no further use to him. He was an opportunist. He had said as much himself: he had only fought for the League out of convenience, not out of a sense of loyalty. Of all the Piraka in the world, it was these men Oreius despised the most. They were guided by no principle save their own advancement, so their loyalty could be bought and sold. They were like sticks of bamboo, bending to each change in the wind. They could not be trusted. Oreius raised his chin. "You are an oathbreaker and a heretic. You have defied the will of the Great Spirit himself. You fought for every side in this war trying to gain an advantage, but all you have done is proven how spineless you are." He spat at Aurax's feet. "You're a coward, not a king. To even call you a Toa would sully the name. So spare me your delusions of grandeur and step down from that throne."
  13. IC: Oreius | Throne Room, the Coliseum "You overestimate our friendship," Oreius replied evenly. He took a step closer, sword still extended. "I saw what the League did on the continents. On the islands. Your hands are stained with Matoran blood. You are not fit to rule."
  14. IC: Taja | Grand Temple Ruins Taja's jaw clenched at the cruel name, but she kept her face expressionless. She'd had plenty of practice dealing with blustering egos back when she worked in the knowledge towers. The key was flattery and pretend naiveté—play to their sense of superiority and leave them feeling like they'd won the exchange. This Aspect was clearly trying to rile her up, and she wouldn't take the bait. But even as she tried to shake the insult off, she found herself suddenly unwilling to play the game any longer. The shadows seemed to hum around her, singing strength into her bones. Her heart hammered in her chest, each beat a syllable: I! Am! A! Toa! She wasn't a powerless Matoran any longer, an outsider carefully navigating Ko-Matoran office politics. She was a chosen hero, and she would no longer pretend to be weak when she knew she was strong. Her people needed a warrior, not a timid scholar. She was not weak. She was not frightened. And above all, she was no Piraka. "It's a poor host who calls their guests such names," Taja said coldly, her weapon still trained on the Rahi-like creature. "Your manners have grown rusty, old one." IC: Oreius | Throne Room, the Coliseum It was over. Oreius staggered to his feet, dazed and sore, but unharmed. Everything seemed to have come to a standstill, like time itself had finally wound down. Pridak's broken body lay before his throne. His last words still echoed softly through the air. And Stannis sat next to him, cross-legged, reaching for his mask like he was reaching for a cup of tea. Even this did not surprise the Toa of Fire. Of course the old man had not died. How could such a small thing as gravity stop him? Oreius reached out for a moment as if to take the mask for himself, but the chains of a promise bound him as securely as any chains of steel or of stone. He was cursed to guard Stannis's secret, and could do nothing, even now, that might rouse suspicion that he was anything more than a Toa of Stone. But perhaps the secret was already out. The others were whispering. Skyra was asking questions—she was good at that, Oreius recalled, like most Le-Toa. Even if he stayed silent, Stannis might have finally revealed more than could be put back in the box. That left one problem: the empty throne. Who would assume control now that Pridak was dead? The League was always a patchwork army, built of soldiers and warlords from different lands and creeds. The six Barraki had commanded them by virtue of being the strongest, and Pridak had been the strongest of all. Without him, surely the League would dissolve back into its composite factions as each man fought to ascend the empty throne. Unless someone took control now, while the vacuum of power was still fresh. Oreius's eyes flickered to each of the others in the room. He knew Stannis, Skyra, and Rose, but the others were foreign to him. Any one of them might decide to claim Pridak's crown for themselves, and if they did, it was the Toa of Fire's duty to strike them down in turn. No one could be permitted to lay claim to the City of Legends unless they were of the exiled Matoran race. All others were usurpers, and he would cleanse their blasphemy with righteous fire. As if in answer to his thoughts, the injured Toa of Plasma stood to his feet and picked up the Barraki's sword. "I couldn't have done this without all of your help, so thank you," he said. "I claim Pridak's sword, his throne, and his ACR- what's left of it, anyway. I'm gonna start making some changes around here..." Oreius raised his sword in answer. "Who are you, Toa? No League usurper will sit on this throne. Not while I still breathe."
  15. IC: Taja | Grand Temple Ruins The someone revealed itself. A Rahi strode out into the clearing. Its body was long and sinuous, rippling with muscles. Wings, translucent and beautiful, laid across its back. Its eyes... those eyes made Taja realize that this was no Rahi at all. Those eyes held a dark, hungry intelligence. And, reaching out, her shadow-sense confirmed it: this creature was like Whisper. An Aspect. It clearly sought to intimidate them, and it was doing a good job. Taja wasn't sure if even the two of them could stand against it. But she swallowed her trepidation and kept her launcher pointed at the Rahi-like being. "Wise is as wise does," she said, her voice steady. "You announced yourself the moment you arrived."
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