Ic: It was nightfall in the Massif. The stony keep of the little village was little more than an octagonal tower with parapets, and a curtain wall encircled the tower and the handful of cobblestone houses nestled in the village for protection. It was peaceful at last. The chimney from the keep spat out handfuls of sparks into the dark air and inside the tower was Antrim and those he had helped rescue.
Korero was lying on a cot in one of the small rooms, decreed to be stable and recovering by the town's doctor. He was wrapped in blankets to protect him from the cold air of winter that frequently flowed from the mountains that hung so close. Oreius was nestled comfortably in a chair by the roaring fire, staring into the flickering flames in pensive concentration. Stannis, meanwhile, was with his toa-protector on another level.
"Tell me about your friends," Antrim said as he polished the greatsword with an oiled cloth with careful streaks. The illumination of a lantern on a stout wooden table spread about the room, kept warm by heatstones mounted on the walls, making a comfortable insulation.
"My companions?" Stannis said, perking up. He hadn't been around much since he returned, spending several hours in what was still technically his hut. He returned to the keep to check on the other two matoran and, once he had seen they were well, was beckoned by his hero to join him elsewhere. "They are Oreius and Korero. Oreius was a Ta-Koro guardsman and is a--"
"Has he sacrificed his Duty?" Antrim queried with serious tone.
"No..." Stannis said. "He is no deserter. He has found that his Duty extends beyond the realms of fire." Antrim seemed satisfied by this reply and remained silent, letting Stannis continue with his introductions by proxy. "Oreius is one of five others Chosen by Mata Nui to champion His cause. As far as I can discern he is a man of truth and fact, but I have not spoken to him of this in days."
"One of five others?" Antrim asked. He looked up at the Pa-Matoran and it had the effect of pointing a finger at him. He expected a reply.
"Five others of six. I... I am the sixth," Stannis replied with contained energy.
Antrim smiled quietly before returning to his work. "And the Ko-Matoran?"
"Korero is some sort of archeologist and explorer. He found us earlier today as we started our flight from the fishing village. He is not Chosen. But... I-- I feel as if Destiny flows through him all the same. It is likely he was Called by Mata Nui to help us, or even help me, in some way. Many are Called but few are Chosen."
Antrim nodded. "You have learned that everything has a purpose and a meaning," he said as he still oiled the steel. Rivulets of amber liquid flowed down the side fuller and then were swept up by the cloth and dragged on the blade anew.
"I have," Stannis gulped. This was the first time he and Antrim had spoken this way since before his departure from the Massif. "I believe all things are part of a larger plan."
"Tell me of your enemies. Who chases you?"
"I do not know them or who they are, but they represent the Makuta. This is a war, my lord, and we are reminded that it is physical as well as spiritual. I... thank you for coming when you did."
"It was meant to be," Antrim replied. "But you helped make it happen by creating the avalanche, even if that was not your intention. Fate works in mysterious ways."
"Indeed," Stannis said and prepared to offer his change of doctrine. "But it was my intention to summon you... my lord."
Antrim paused his cloth and looked up at his Matoran with a critical look that made Stannis' own piercing gaze seem childish. "You thought about your actions? It was your plan?"
"Yes!" Stannis claimed, almost too enthusiastically. "I have... learned another way." Antrim remained silent, patiently waiting for Stannis to explain. "Destiny cannot be avoided, and even the choices we make seemingly of our own volition are only a part of the path we were given. We can grow as people and mature, but it is prescribed to us. But... I feel destiny can change by Mata Nui. Maybe even now one of us Chosen can die and be replaced by a Called one.
"But my belief relies on a crucial element: We cannot exist on Faith alone." Stannis breathed deeply and collected his thoughts. "It's like living only on bread or water -- we can't do that, we need both to be strong men. I have done many travels since I left this village, my lord, and for the longest time I only placed my trust in Destiny and Mata Nui. But I have met other people who are my opposite; they place their trust in facts and what they can see. Me? I saw a way to bring you to me at a moment I needed your help the most. I made a plan to do so. But I did not forsake the principle of Trust, my lord. I had to have great faith that the plan would work. But in the end, I did think about it and my faith was not unfounded."
"This is what you choose to believe in?" Antrim asked sharply, a faint hint of anger in his tone. His eyes narrowed with disapproval.
"Yes," Stannis confirmed steadily, looking back at Antrim evenly. Antrim remained locked in eye contact for what seemed like a very long time and Stannis was certain he would banish him from the keep and maybe the village himself for making a philosophy of his own that contradicted his lord's. Would the toa truly take offense of the matter? Would he truly lash with anger?
"Very good," Antrim said before resuming his polishing and softening his tone. "You have grown as both a man and an adventurer. I am proud of what you have done and made of yourself, Stannis." The matoran's posture relaxed at these comforting words. "In the morning, you and your friends will come with me to the monastery. Then I feel I must let you return to your quest. You cannot stay here longer; not for what you have said but because your job is not here, it is on all of Mata Nui. Should you need shelter, however, you are always welcomed here."
"Thank you," Stannis breathed.
"Go and rest for the night. You have done much today."
It was true, and Stannis had not slept much the previous night save for the two hours before his guard duty. Since then, most of the day was in fight or fight. He stumbled down the spiral steps to the bottom of the keep and returned to his rustic cabin for the night.
Edited by Littlefinger, Dec 21 2012 - 04:35 PM.