Chapter 20: Wanderer’s Mission
“Oh . . . my . . .” Barilo said in a voice that was barely more than a whisper. “Everybody . . . look. . . .”
The other five Toa Shika painfully lifted their heads from the snow and looked at where Barilo was pointing. Even Nastan, the most cold and evil of them all, looked positively terrified by what he saw.
What they saw was that the mountains that they had been briefly lost in no longer had the white, pure snow that they had grown so used to seeing. Instead, lava was covering the landscape, melting all of the snow and burning anyone or anything that got in its way. The volcano itself, they saw, was enormous, bigger than all of the other mountains around it, with smoke and ash still bellowing from its mouth like a roaring Muaka. Some of the lava had already hardened, giving the land a sort of hard, stony look that differed greatly from its once soft, snow-white appearance. Even from their distance they could still feel the heat of the lava, though not nearly as much as when they had been in the heart of the mountain.
The sky looked different as well. It no longer was the pure, purplish-black shadow that usually hung over Wyoko like a blanket. Now it was a gray, burning smoke that added to the impossibility of seeing anything. There was not a cloud in the sky, at least none that they could see since the smog was covering everything. Barilo could see a few lava eels, mostly the bigger ones, crawling out of the crater of the volcano with the lava, looking slightly confused as to why they were no longer in their warm home in the heart of the mountain anymore.
“No one . . . I mean no one could have survived something like that,” Akuna breathed as the light of the burning lava reflected off of her slightly fearful eyes. “Why, I bet you there isn’t so much as a single mask left of any of the Shodios or of their Kra-Matoran now.”
Unknown to the Toa of Lightning, she was partly right and partly wrong about that. Rhatara, Jero, Tikcah, and Ira had managed to escape the exploding mountain, but in the process had abandoned their hunting parties to die in the unbearably hot lava. All four of them had regrouped back at the edge of the mountains, each one of the Shodios watching the scene with a mixture of anger and confusion. Jero, at least, was extremely curious about the volcano.
“I wonder how it managed to erupt,” Jero said in a tone of wonderment. “It must have taken a great and powerful force to do that, and I had no idea that there was a volcano, of all things, here in Wyoko. I must study it sometime.”
“The Toa Shika,” Rhatara spat, as if the name was poison to his mouth. “They somehow found their way into the volcano and activated it. I just know it. They were trying to kill us!”
“We will have to kill them, then,” Ira said in a tone that suggested that they slay the Shika in extremely horrible and cruel ways. “If they survived, then I am now, more than ever before, convinced that we should have killed them instead of trying to feed them to the shadow eels back then.”
Tikcah, however, looked quite worried about something else compared to the others.
“Where’s Teivel?” she asked, looking around for any sign of the one she loved. “Did he-?”
“Probably,” Rhatara said in disgust. “He probably thought that he could kill all six of the light dwellers himself and then probably got caught in the explosion. It wouldn’t surprise me if his corpse is somewhere beneath that lake of lava right now, boiling and melting.”
Jero seemed to notice that someone else was missing, too. “Where is Jiki? Not that I miss her, but I do wonder why we didn’t find her in the Nui Mountains and why she isn’t here with us right now.”
“My guess is she either got caught by the lava or got killed by the Toa Shika,” said Ira, the lava reflecting her black, evil eyes. “She was the first one after them, after all. They must have thought ‘Screw her’ and then killed her. Or maybe she was just stupid enough to decide that playing with lava would be fun.”
Ignoring Ira, Tikcah said, “Oh, I hope Teivel’s all right. I don’t know if I will be able to live without him!”
“Learn to live without him, then, Tikcah,” said Rhatara. “He’s dead, killed by the volcano’s eruption no doubt. If he was still alive he would have been here to meet us now. What an idiotic fool.”
Tikcah whirled around and, in one swift motion, had a dagger to Rhatara’s throat. She seemed to have an angry look in her eyes that told Rhatara he had said the wrong thing.
“Don’t . . . you . . . ever . . . insult . . . our . . . leader,” she hissed into his audio receptor. “Or else I will personally kill you.”
Rhatara, unimpressed, said, “Fine, fine, whatever. He’s not alive anymore, so there’s no reason I can’t call him a fool, since he can’t fight back.”
Tikcah still held her dagger up to his throat as if daring him to move or say something else. Jero, however, knowing that a fight would be pointless and would waste their time and energy, managed to get in between the two Shodios, and said to them, “I suggest that we ignore our own conflicts and find the six Toa Shika. We should return to Wael and take some of their Kra-Matoran with us and search the rest of these mountains.”
Rhatara broke his gaze from Tikcah and then looked at Jero. “Why should we? The Toa Shika probably got killed, too. No need to do that, in my opinion.”
“I wouldn’t say so,” said Ira, “The kind of light loving Toa that they are have an extremely annoying habit of surviving these kinds of things when normal beings shouldn’t have. I think we all remember the Toa Avha well.”
“Of course,” said Jero, nodding. “They should have fallen before us, but somehow those light dwellers beat us and imprisoned us down here, despite the fact they were against an entire army of Kra-Matoran, us, and Turaga Krashadi. That is the reason why I suggested that we search for their corpses in the first place. I do not want to be hoodwinked by a bunch of inferior light lovers.”
“Okay, but let’s not take any Kra-Matoran from Wael with us,” said Rhatara. “It will take too long for us to get to Wael on foot and if the Toa Shika is still alive they might escape while we’re heading there.”
“Okay,” said Ira, nodding, “sounds good to me. Only, let’s not split up. If they got Jiki and Teivel by themselves, then surely they will get us, too, if we are alone. I doubt they can take on us as a team.”
So the four Shodios began their searching, planning on immediately killing the six Toa Shika once they found them. Even Jero seemed to think that they should be killed, although that mean that he would be losing one valuable experiment and five fresh test subjects. But now he was more interested in leaving Wyoko than in experimenting anyway.
For a long while, the Toa Shika and Wanderer just sat there, watching the volcano as it spewed out the last of its lava, lighting up the dark sky with a reddish-orange glow that seemed eerily out of place in Wyoko. Now only smoke was coming out of its crater and even that was beginning to thin too.
So Addis, knowing that they had a long way to go, stood up in the ash and snow and said to the others, “Come on. We have to get to The Door.”
He pointed behind them, and they all looked in his direction. There it was, The Door to the Light, standing on what looked like the other side of Wyoko. It was obviously night time now, for the shadow was practically complete, though The Door itself seemed to be emitting a sort of electric blue glow that was very out of place in Wyoko.
“That’s it?” asked Wanderer. “Looks a lot smaller and less grand than you guys said it was.”
“It’s a lot bigger closer up,” said Barilo. “We’re just too far away from it now.”
So the six Toa Shika rose from their feet and brushed the ash and snow off of their armor. Barilo kept his eyes on The Door, which looked like it would take quite a while to get there. But as long as they kept out of sight of the Kra-Matoran villages, they would be okay, he thought.
That was when a huge, powerful blast of shadow came from behind and knocked him and the other Toa onto the ground face first. It was almost enough to knock him out, but Barilo managed to stay conscious, if a little bruised. He rolled over onto his back and saw Nastan standing over him, his bow aimed at the Toa of Gravity’s mask, an evil grin on his face.
“What are you doing?” Wanderer demanded, floating toward him.
“Just getting rid of a problem is all,” Nastan replied. “He tried to kill me back on Shika Nui, you know.”
“It was an accident!” Barilo shouted, fear in his voice. “I was going insane! I-“
“Stop the excuses!” Nastan shouted, pulling the arrow back a little bit more. “You know you really did want to see me dead. Don’t try to say Hajax made you do it. That is an idiotic way to justify your almost-murder.”
Barilo wanted to argue that Nastan was wrong, that he really had been driven insane from having had his mind link with Makuta Hajax snapped. Yet at the same time, he knew that there was a certain truth to Nastan’s words. He had to admit that he had wanted to kill Nastan at the time. But he hadn’t really, at least not really, really, really wanted to kill him.
But even then as he tried to justify it in his mind, a horrible thought suddenly appeared in his head: Was he just trying to justify almost killing his friend? Was Barilo no better than Hajax or any of the Shodios? The very thought of it sent a chill up Barilo’s spine and he did not like it at all.
“Okay, Nastan, I admit, I did try to kill you under my own free will,” Barilo confessed, looking up into the red eyes of his fellow Toa. “I didn’t do it just because I was going insane (though for the record I was slightly out of my mind at the time). I did it because I was angry, I had the power, and I was willing to do it, too. But now,” he added, “I have seen my mistake and I ask you for your forgiveness. Please, Nastan, find it somewhere in your heart to forgive your fellow Toa for wronging you. Please.”
He looked up at Nastan with pleading eyes, and for a second he thought he saw a look of mercy in the red orbs of his friend. But then the Toa of Shadow shook his head and said in a cold, hard voice, “Nice try, Barilo. But I don’t forgive my enemies.”
Right before he could shoot off the arrow, however, Wanderer drew her spear and shield off of her back and charged Nastan, hoping to somehow stop him, despite knowing the fact that she was a ghost and could not touch or harm a physical being like Nastan. Still, she really didn’t want to see murder happen right before her eyes, even though she had seen it done in the past, but that didn’t mean she enjoyed it or tolerated it at all.
Suddenly, just as the tip of her ghostly weapon made contact with Nastan’s shoulder, she disappeared, as if she really hadn’t been there at all. Barilo wildly looked around to see if he could find her, but did not see hide or tail of Wanderer anywhere. Where’d she go?
All of a sudden, he heard Nastan shout a cry of pain and then he looked up just in time to see the Toa of Shadow drop his weapon onto Barilo and stumble backwards, head in his hands, screaming in pain.
The rest of the Toa had gotten back on their feet and also had drawn their weapons, but they weren’t using them. Instead, they, like Barilo, watched Nastan, who seemed to be in some sort of horrible, unstoppable pain that affected his whole body, particularly his head. Akuna, worried for his safety, tried to move forward to somehow help him, but Addis put an arm in front of her to stop her. Whatever was happening to Nastan, he didn’t want Akuna or any of the other Toa Shika to interrupt in case they hurt themselves or Nastan.
“My head!” Nastan shouted, clutching his skull with his hands. “Get out of my head! Get out of my head, ghost!”
Wanderer smoothly landed in a dark, barren land that looked an awful lot like Wyoko. She looked around, wondering where she had ended up in. She saw no snow, ash, smoke, mountains, or any Toa, so she thought it might not be Wyoko.
Last I remember, I was flying into Nastan, trying to stop him from killing Barilo, she recalled. Did I get teleported somewhere? It’s so dark here, like Wyoko.
She decided to explore the place and began walking through the shadowy fog. There were no buildings, no people, not even a Rahi in this place. Then again, the darkness was pretty thick, so maybe she just couldn’t see anybody. It was starting to make her feel a little edgy, because she was somehow solid in this place, despite being a ghost. So she knew that she could get attacked if she wasn’t careful.
Her two-toed feet hit the ground softly as she walked, her ghost-white eyes darting all around at the weird place. It seemed like she had been walking for hours before she finally saw a small, barely visible light up ahead. It was too little and far away to make out clearly, but any source of light here must be good, she reasoned. So she picked up the pace and the bright light started to grow even brighter. She knew she was close.
Finally, after what seemed like even more hours she finally reached the light, which turned out to be a huge wall of pure brightness that was almost too much for her to look at directly. She shielded her eyes, but caught sight of something else as she did so.
Over to her right she noticed something that looked like a well. It looked like any other well she had seen: Small, made of stone, with two wooden beams holding a small rooftop over it, although it was strangely absent of a bucket for gathering water from it. But something about it seemed to be calling her over, as if beckoning her to examine it. So she walked over to it, curious to figure out what it was.
When she leaned over to take a look inside of it, she saw to her surprise that something was in the bottom of the well. Not water, but some sort of silvery liquid-like substance that was far too deep for her to make out. She wondered what it was supposed to be when suddenly she heard a small sound behind her that startled her.
“Ah!” she exclaimed, turning around. “Who’s there?”
She wildly glanced around, but saw nothing, until she heard the sound again and looked down at her feet. To her surprise, she saw a Matoran in green-ish blue armor carrying a bucket in his arms, looking up at her with sad-looking eyes. He also had a quizzical look in his orbs as he watched her, as if wondering who she was. It took her a minute before she suddenly realized the identity of the quiet Matoran.
“Nastan?” Wanderer gasped. “Is . . . is that you? Why are you a Matoran? And why isn’t your armor black?”
Nastan the Matoran frowned at her and said, “You are Wanderer, are you not? A ghost that is supposed to be intangible, yet now you are physical, solid as a rock. I suppose that makes sense, at least in here it does.”
“Yes, I’ve been wondering about it, too,” she said, not at all liking this bizarre situation and wondering why Nastan was a Matoran when he should clearly be a Toa. “Now answer my questions I asked you earlier, please. I do not like being left in the dark.”
Strangely, Nastan chuckled and said, “You are in the dark, Wanderer.” He gestured to the shadow all around. “Look at your environment. Shadow and darkness everywhere you look. I need not be the one to leave you in the dark, my friend.”
“But you would like some answers, wouldn’t you?” Nastan continued, walking past her and tying the bucket to the rope that hung above the well. “First, I can tell you that I am both Nastan and not Nastan at the same time.”
“What does that mean?”
“It means I am a memory,” Nastan the Matoran replied as he lowered the bucket into the well of silver liquid. “I am what Nastan used to be, what he remembers. I do not technically exist. I am a memory of the time when he was a simple, innocent Matoran villager.”
“Innocent, eh?” Wanderer snorted. “I don’t think being a thief counts as ‘innocent.’ “
“Well, more innocent than I am now,” Nastan said with a sly grin spreading across his face. “I am what Nastan wants to be. His mind may be full of darkness and evil, but his transformation into a Toa of Shadow was not truly, 100% complete, for if it was I would be behind that barrier over there with the rest of Nastan’s good memories and thoughts.”
He gestured to the wall of light that Wanderer had seen earlier. At the mention of it the light seemed to grow suddenly brighter, as if it wanted to be noticed.
“Yet he also knows that he can’t be me anymore,” Nastan continued. “All of the evil that Jero put in his mind has stopped him from being good. It has poisoned him, corrupted him, to the point where he now actually enjoys harming others and being evil. It scares him, it scares me.”
Now Wanderer was putting two and two together as the Matoran version of Nastan spoke. He had mentioned that he was one of Nastan’s memories, that he was the only good memory left on the other side of the barrier that blocked all of Nastan’s good memories and thoughts, and there can’t be a Toa version of someone and a Matoran version at the same time, so she concluded-
“I am in Nastan’s mind,” she said, slightly horrified. “I can’t believe it.”
“So you finally figured it out, eh?” said Nastan, who was now peering over the edge of the well, as if to get a better look at its contents. “Yes, that is where you are, my friend. This is what is left of his mind: Darkness and shadow. Oh, he can think and do intelligent things and talk and stuff, but now his mind is little more than a barren wasteland of death and shadow.
“Before he had his shadow taken away from him, however, it was a much better place. There were good thoughts and memories, grass, trees, and flowers everywhere. Occasionally there was a thunderstorm or some sort of dark cloud whenever Nastan got angry or sad or upset, but it was usually a pretty nice place to live if you’re one of his memories. But then, a mighty shadow appeared and locked the others away, but I managed to stay, for I had an important duty to complete for Nastan’s mind.”
“So Nastan can’t remember any good thoughts at all?” Wanderer questioned.
“No, he can,” Nastan the Matoran replied. “He remembers being a Toa of The Green. He remembers all of the good times he shared with the other Toa Shika, especially Akuna, and he also remembers other good things as well. But now, because of all of the shadow in his mind, he sees them through a mirror of evil, one that makes him think his old days as a light Toa were pathetic and weak. How misguided he has become!”
Finally, he withdrew the bucket and placed it on the ground. Now Wanderer had a better look at the silvery contents that were in the well.
To Wanderer, now that she had a better look at the contents of the well, it seemed to be nothing more than a bunch of mixed colors that made little-to-no sense to her at all. What was the point of looking at this stuff? She wondered.
Nastan the Matoran, however, seemed to know something she didn’t, for he muttered, “Not good enough,” and dumped the silver stuff back inside the well.
Curious, Wanderer asked, “What was that silvery stuff?”
“Some of Nastan’s most recent memories and thoughts,” said Nastan, who was now frowning again. “His thoughts have been very dark and evil nowadays and not worth taking out and examining.”
“Why do you take them out and examine them?” she asked.
“Because I act as a filter for Nastan,” Nastan the Matoran answered. “I collect his raw, untamed thoughts and memories and emotions and decide how Nastan should see them. These ones he has just recently acquired aren’t very good and I don’t want him to remember them, but even if I do toss them back in the well they will still stay in his mind forever until he forgets them.”
“Why will they?”
“Because memories are never truly gone, even if I get rid of them,” the Gre-Matoran sighed. “It would be cruel, I suppose, if whenever I tossed out any thoughts or memories that I did not like, he never remembered them, never even got a chance to decide for himself whether they were good or bad. But whatever the case,” he shook his head as he said, “it is not my place to debate moral issues like that. My job is to filter his memories and thoughts. Nothing more, nothing less.”
“You seemed to be a rather big thinker for someone who is allegedly not supposed to debate moral issues,” Wanderer observed.
“When you live in someone’s mind like I do, you have little else to do but think of philosophical things like that,” Nastan replied.
Now they were quiet and Wanderer simply watched the Matoran as he dropped his bucket in the well again and pulled out some more thoughts. This went on for some time, as he had a few other buckets as well that seemed to have came out of nowhere. Finally, he finished his job and picked up his buckets with the caution of someone holding a valuable treasure.
“Do you need any help?” asked Wanderer.
“No!” Nastan said in an alarmed voice. “You may spill them, and if you do, they will be lost forever and be totally irretrievable. I can’t risk losing them.”
With that, Nastan started to walk away. Wanderer watched him go, but the she had a sudden question and shouted, “Hey! What am I supposed to do here? How do I get out of this dark hole? Is there any way out at all?”
Right before he entered the shadows, Nastan looked over his shoulder and called back, “You must do what destiny tells you to do, Wanderer. I cannot give you any specific instructions beyond that because frankly I don’t know what you’re supposed to do, either.”
With a playful smile on his face that Wanderer thought must have been how Nastan smiled originally before becoming a Toa of Shadow, the memory of Nastan the Matoran disappeared into the shadows. Wanderer just stood there, her expression one of frustration and anger. What did he mean ‘do what destiny tells you to do’? How was she supposed to find out what destiny wanted her to do, anyway? This was her least favorite part of being a spirit wanderer. Her missions were never clear and almost always took a long time to figure out.
What, does he expect Destiny to come down from Paradise and tell me what to do? she thought indignantly. Mata Nui, he’s a fool!
She was so angry that she wanted to throw her spear at something. She glanced around and saw the barrier keeping Nastan’s good thoughts and memories from entering the Toa of Shadow’s mind. She tilted her head now, thinking. She wasn’t angry anymore, nor did she want to throw her spear at something to release her anger. In fact, she was now hatching a new plan, one that might just be what destiny wanted her to achieve after all.
I gotta break that barrier, Wanderer concluded. That must be what I am supposed to fix. Nastan isn’t supposed to be evil. He’s supposed to be good, so I, being a spirit wanderer, must fix Nastan, changing him back to normal, and then I will be teleported back home. I will use my spear and strike the barrier. Maybe that will shatter it.
She knew how dangerous that could be. What if she got hurt as a result of unleashing Nastan’s good thoughts and memories? What if she got killed, in fact? What if it she was not supposed to do it at all and she was doomed to an eternity of sorting memories, emotions, and thoughts with Nastan’s very own mini-me? Or what if she couldn’t break the barrier at all?
Gotta stop doubting and gotta start throwing, she decided, already aiming with her spear.
But before she threw the weapon, one final thought entered her mind: Was this right?
Is it in my place to turn Nastan back to normal? Wanderer questioned suddenly. He never asked me to do this. Maybe he’s happy this way. Maybe I should just find another way out of here.
She frowned, angry with herself. She hated thinking deep, philosophical thoughts. There just never seemed to be a definite answer to her and she was never sure if she did the right thing or not. She assumed that being inside of Nastan’s mind must be making her do a lot of thinking, just like what was happening to the memory Nastan.
Yet, I can’t help but feel that maybe Nastan will be better off being good again, she thought. I can’t see how anyone would want to be separated from their loved ones just in pursuit of evil. From what the others have told me, Nastan used to be a pretty nice guy. I think I would be doing Nastan - and his friends - a favor for doing this.
With that, she hefted her large weapon above her shoulder, aimed for the middle of the barrier and, with one mighty thrust of her strong arm, sent the long, thin spear flying into the barrier. It flew straight and true, hitting the wall exactly in the middle where she had been aiming for. It stuck and for a minute nothing happened. Have I failed? was the first thought to enter her mind as she watched the spear just sit there, as unmoving as a stone.
But then all of a sudden, cracks started to appear around the spear, spreading through the barrier. They gradually extended to the rest of the wall and light began to leak through in sparse amounts. Finally a large portion of the wall broke open, weakening the rest of it so that it exploded, unleashing light and energy upon Nastan’s mind.
Wanderer never even had a chance to move. The light hit her like a sledgehammer and she was sent flying away, going so fast and so hard that for a minute she was afraid that if she stopped she would fall and die. But instead she just kept flying away, farther and farther, faster and faster, until the long, green grass, tall, blooming trees, and other features of Nastan’s mind became little more than distant, indistinguishable little dots. . . .
Back in the physical world, Nastan was now lying curled up in a ball in the snow on the ground, unconscious and shivering slightly. The other Toa Shika had gathered around him now, unsure of what to do. Akuna was the most worried of the group, her green eyes reflecting her own helplessness of not being able to do anything to help him, but just the same she wanted to do something to help Nastan.
Please don’t be dead, Nastan, Akuna thought. I don’t know what I will do without you-
All of a sudden, Nastan’s armor began to slowly fade from pure, jet-black to his original blue-ish green color scheme right before their eyes. He also seemed to be becoming less intimidating-looking as well and there seemed to be a general evil leaving his form. In fact, it was only in a few minutes that he was all the way back to his old self again, while the other five Toa Shika all looked on, wondering what had happened, and why.
And then Wanderer suddenly appeared right next to the Toa Shika. She looked just as confused as they were and was glancing around the area, apparently trying to make sure she was still in Wyoko. Then she looked down and noticed Nastan had changed and instantly she knew what had happened.
“Ah ha!” Wanderer said triumphantly. “It worked!”
“What worked?” asked Akuna, taking her eyes off Nastan for the first time in minutes to look at the ghost.
“Well, it’s hard to explain,” said Wanderer. “So long story short, I ended up in Nastan’s mind somehow and destroyed a mental barrier keeping the light from returning to him, so he’s back to normal now.”
Akuna looked thunderstruck. “What? You . . . you healed him?”
“Well, yeah,” said Wanderer, nodding. “Wasn’t I supposed to do that?”
“I’m not mad,” Akuna said eagerly. “Oh, no, definitely not mad. I am just extremely happy and can’t believe what just happened.”
“Well, you might want to turn around,” Wanderer suggested, pointing over her shoulder. “Because what you will see will probably make you even happier, I think.”
Nastan was stirring now, moaning in pain, his eyes opening slightly. His eye color was back to its normal yellow color, although they had a dazed and somewhat confused look about them. He sat up and shook his head and said, “Whoa. . . . Where am I? How’d I get here?” He looked around and said, “And just why the Karzahni are we all covered in ashes and snow?”
“Nastan . . .” Akuna breathed, bending down next to him. “Can you . . . remember anything?”
“Yeah, I think I do,” said Nastan, putting his left hand on the back of his head, as if thinking. “Oddly enough I think I might have been able to shoot shadow and I distinctly remember being bound in uncomfortable metal bounds for a while there. I think it might have all been a dream, though.” He added. “A really weird dream, at that.”
“It . . . wasn’t a dream,” said Akuna, who was now looking like she could cry with happiness, though she was holding back the tears. “You were a Toa of Shadow for a while and we did have you tied up to keep you from harming Barilo.”
Nastan stared at her with wide eyes. “What? Really? Man that explains why my back hurts, although I still don’t know where I am.”
“We’ll explain later,” said Addis, who was smiling slightly. “We’re just glad to have you back.”
“You might also want to thank your savior,” Barilo added. “She’s standing right over- Hey!”
He noticed that Wanderer was starting to fade in and out of existence rapidly. The other five Toa Shika noticed this and all watched as the ghost began to disappear. Wanderer did not look frightened, though she did have an expression of disappointment and pride on her face even as she began to fade away.
“Looks like I finished what I came here for,” said Wanderer, though her voice was strangely distant and echo-y sounding, like when they had first met her. “Time for me to go home.”
“Wait!” said Akuna, looking alarmed. “I haven’t thanked you for healing Nastan!”
“Well . . . you don’t need . . . to . . .” Wanderer said with a slight smile on her face. “I’ll just . . . accept . . . a simple thank you. . . . Bye . . . you . . . six . . . were . . . interesting. . . .”
And with that, Wanderer disappeared into thin air, her spirit having wandered back to its original body. All of the Toa except for Nastan now felt strangely sad for seeing her go, despite knowing her for only a few hours. Especially Nonzra, who seemed to have taken a liking to the ghost despite how he snapped at her earlier. Nastan just looked plain confused, however, and said, “Um, who was that? Why was she a ghost? And why did she disappear?” He felt like he had just walked in the middle of an incredibly long and complex story that seemed to have too many questions and not enough answers to a new listener.
Akuna, however, just turned to look at Nastan and smiled. “We’ll explain later. For now, I think we gotta get going. . . .”
Suddenly, inexplicably, Akuna launched herself onto Nastan and hugged him very hard. Nastan was slightly taken aback by this, but he eventually hugged her back. The other Toa, all of whom had been standing by, had averted their eyes so as to give the two some privacy.
Finally, Akuna regained control of her emotions and tore herself away from Nastan, instead preferring to stare deeply into his eyes. Nastan returned the look, and for a few minutes they just looked at each other. But eventually, Addis began to get slightly impatient and said, as he extended a hand to Nastan, “We really gotta get going, like Akuna said. The Shodios may be nearby and we can’t afford to let them catch us off guard like this.”
“Uh, okay,” Nastan said, taking Addis’ hand and standing up. “I would like it if someone explained to me, though, what has been happening these past few days.”
Addis suddenly noticed that it was even darker out than usual, which meant that Wyoko’s weak sun had set for the day and now it was time for sleep.
“We’ll explain to you when we rest for the night,” he told Nastan. “For now, let’s find some place to sleep without being found by the Shodios. They’ll want us killd if they discover that Teivel and Jiki died.”
“Teivel and Jiki are dead?” Nastan repeated, thunderstruck. “Man I must’ve missed out on a lot!”
“Actually, you were there for the whole adventure,” Akuna said as she slipped one of her hands in his. “You just don’t remember it, I guess.”
So the now-completed Toa team restarted their journey to The Door, all of them informing Nastan of the events of the last few days. Each one of them was happy to have Nastan back on the team as a true, official member, but they also felt sad that, despite the fact she had not been a true Toa or a true member of the team, Wanderer was gone. They had all be begun to think of her as a friend in some small way, but now it seemed they had exchanged one new friend in for an old friend.
Yet I don’t doubt that we will meet her again someday, Chimoy thought as he walked behind the rest of the chattering Toa. We may meet her again as a ghost, or maybe as a physical being. Destiny is a funny and complex thing, somehow both at the same time. Perhaps if we return to the surface we may run into her again. That would be nice, and I think Nonzra would like that, even if he doesn’t want to admit it.
None of the Shodios had found the bodies of Jiki, Teivel, or the Toa Shika, although Rhatara did discover Jiki’s half-melted Kanohi Achi not too far from where they had started. They were now at the edge of the mountains again, and Tikcah was worried, since they had found no clue whatsoever of Teivel.
“We should give him a funeral, at least,” she suggested. “We may not have his body, but we can always just do it to show him respect.”
“I don’t think that would be a good idea,” said Jero. “We have six Toa on the loose, six Toa who may already be at The Door or are on their way to there. We didn’t find their bodies, so there is a high possibility that they somehow managed to escape.”
“Which means we’re going to have to find them,” said Rhatara, who was now seething in anger. “I shall be the leader of our team now. I was Teivel’s second-in-command, of course, and I say we go after the Shika instead of worrying about funerals for melted arrogant fools. Who’s with me?”
Ira and Jero nodded, but Tikcah didn’t at first. Finally, after some thinking, she said, “Okay, let’s do it. It is what Teivel would have wanted, had he still been alive. It is a god way to honor his memory, I think.”
“Good,” Rhatara said, cracking an evil grin. “Let’s go to Castle Kra and inform Turaga Krashadi of the deaths of our two teammates. It is most unfortunate that they had to die, but then that is life. Let’s go.”
As the four Shodios turned as one and began their slow descent down the hardened lava that covered the mountains, none of them heard the ever so faint sound of laughter being carried across the harsh, cold winds of the Nui Mountains, a laughter that would have been all too familiar to the four Shodios, one that would have sent chills even up their spines.