IC Stannis | Metru Koro
The old toa remained behind while everyone else around Turaga Sans' hut entered as bidden. There was no need for him to go in and discuss the matter of going to the Kumu Islets; he did not approve of the sojourn but he could not prevent it from going, and perhaps Sans had wisdom in what he connived. Stannis remained concerned, what sort of impact the group's trip would have on the morale of the refugees who were already fearful and anxious. If Waveahk succeeded somehow in getting to the southern tip of the land and then return, they would bring back sensational stories of the Aspects that could drive the others to fear them once they realized the nature of these beings; and if the worst happened and they did not return... well, their absence would cause unease all the same. Still, he admitted with a shrug, Mata Nui works in mysterious ways. He resolved to seek out Waveahk out before the steltian mutant left, hoping that at least he could prepare him for the journey he was about to embark on, and maybe even incentives the Hunter to success for a more communal goal.
The Wanderer walked away from Sans' hut and back through the maze of tents and shelters that composed Metru Koro's districts but was harried by Matoran who hailed him to speak with the closest thing to a prophet they had. For all, particularly those who remained faithful to Mata Nui, answers and reassurances were sparse while the worries and questions were infinite. Their god had seemingly disappeared from their lives, their lands were taken by warlords who defied Mata Nui, and lastly their very universe had crumbled away and crashed on a strange world. They were desperately seeking some sign—any sign—that Mata Nui yet lived. To his incredible regret, Stannis could not give them that, but he could stoke a hope that things had happened for a reason because he believed that to be true himself.
It was as he sat around a crackling firepit, speaking with a Po-Matoran who whittled at a block of wood while reliving stories of the Battle for Metru Nui, that he heard the most recent development that gave him pause. He mentioned Toa Arkius in a matter of passing when the matoran looked up from his carving. "Arkius? You know, that toa's about to head out of this place on some... well I guess you could call it an 'expedition.' He's been assembling heroes and sheroes to go deal with some local Skakdi marauder."
"He is, is he?" Stannis said, perking up a brow as he puffed his pipe animatedly. The white smoke rose away in a dense billow of milky white that quickly was swallowed up by the dimming nighttime air. "Tell me more."
"Not much to say, honestly. He nailed a poster to the billboards Turaga Sans erected around town. Says he wants to 'teach the Skaks a lesson' and 'protect the Matoran.' That sound like your friend?"
Stannis nodded quietly as he reflected. "He always was an eager one for a fight—very brave, but sometimes stubborn. He possesses a heart of gold, however, and remains a dependable ally. Do you know when he plans to depart?"
"Well, soon, I reckon. I think he is gathering his posse at the main gate, but I don't know if he's leaving yet. Heard word about that, anyway," the matoran said with a shrug.
"Really? I should like to say hello to him, then! We have not seen each other since before the Battle, I'm sure he will take joy from seeing me. You may come as well if you want..."
"Mmm, nah. You'll be back though, I know it. You always come back. Maybe one day I'll make a carving of you, eh?"
Stannis gestured dismissively to the idea as he got up. "I am long past caring for statues in my likeness, old friend," he said humbly. "But I will see you again."
"Suit yourself," the matoran said, admiring the process he'd made on the block. "Ahhh, another Hafu original."
The august toa of stone held aloft a torch that illuminated his great grey cloak with dancing light and his shadow fluttered seemingly in sync with the flickering flames. Nobody stopped him then, his path too assured to halt and his visage too unrecognizable for most to call him by name. Once again he was simply a dark wanderer, one of many on the strange new land. He wondered what Arkius was up to, and furthermore hoped to help the frought toa of earth stay true. Stannis served in times of war while he was not a warrior himself; in contrast, Arkius was a man of war who struggled to find place in times of peace, and possessed in him certain... troubles. Above all, however, he was Stannis' friend, and because of that bond the Wanderer wished the best for the man.
He recounted when he last saved Arkius' life, on the Taku after a last bout with the resurrected Vyarik. Arkius was battered, bruised, even partially broken. It took much of Stannis' focus to restore him to health. His body was ravaged by trauma, bloodied both by his own and Vyarik's, and the damages dealt to his body were further helped by the enfeeblement the lack of his kanohi caused. The Mask of Kinetics itself had seemed to betray its user, and shards of it were embedded as shrapnel on Arkius' face as a painful reminder of what even the most familiar masks of power could do if pressed too far. Beyond that, however, Stannis could feel something else killing the earth toa from inside, a wound in pride, perhaps, or more likely something much darker, a poison in his soul that caused him to have such volatility beneath his bravado. The Wanderer sighed deeply and stifled a tear, but soon closed his eyes and began to pray. "Mata Nui, grant me the power..." he started, and then paused.
It grieved him; not the sight of injury or blood, nor even that it was his friend who had been nearly destroyed, but that he could not do as much as he wanted... Or needed. Toa Arkius' sufferings were a thing he could give some relief from, but he had no cures. It was a pattern he tried to subvert time and time again across the known universe, and despite his firm belief that he went where Mata Nui gently guided him like a boat along the sea's many currents he always sought to make a difference, to improve others, to fixtheir problems. He could not fix Arkius just as he could not fix Metru Nui, or the war, or much of anything. Still, he reminded himself, things would be worse had he not done what he could. Knichou was testament of that, the other Ghosts, even just the friends he had somehow become surrounded by again on the Taku. Surrender was not an option, not to enemies he could fight and not to feelings that clawed at his will. He would try, even when he felt he could not, else he did not have the Faith to truly be called a prophet.
"... Grant me the power to save life. Grant me the ability to heal bodily injuries, mend broken bones, seal armor breaks, and extract from the body the things that caused such harms. May I be able to do such healing insofar as the body will allow, and that I cannot restore what is incomplete. May the Great Spirit grant me this request. Amen."
He exhaled and in the same turn gave new life into Arkius. His Kanohi glowed, dimly at first, and then brightly, pulsating with each breath he took as he touched the many tears, wounds, gaps, and dislocations all over the toa's body, leaving behind mended armor and sealed scars. Of the shards on his face, he plucked them one by one, and with a wave of his hand he bound those cuts as well. After what seemed to take forever, but was truly only the span of ten minutes, he was finished. Arkius was whole again, mostly. At least in body. Stannis had done what he could.
But as he wordlessly walked away from the recovering body of the fallen hero, Stannis could not help but notice a niggling feeling that while he had mended the mortal wounds, there were some injuries that cut far too deep and were far too old that rested in Arkius' psyche and heart that were far beyond the paltry healing tricks Stannis could summon with his old imagination, and it was the wounds that remained unseen that Stannis feared could harm Arkius the most.
"Brother Arkius!" The Wanderer hailed from the darkness of the dimming dusk. He lowered his hood to reveal his weathered face, and the mischievous false grimace of feigned injury. "Are you so busy making new friends that you do not care for an old one?"