The Coming of the Toa=||= Do you remember, Kua, how all this came to be?The words sounded as clear to Kua as they had when the old Turaga had spoken them on his deathbed. “Do you remember…a time before? A time when the islands were not separate, when we were not scattered as we are now. Scattered and broken like leaves on a pond’s surface.” The old Turaga had lain very still, and Kua had held very still beside him, daring not to breath. The room was dim, and only the light of their eyes had lit the space. Time was running out. “D-do you remember,” the Turaga began again, “a time before the cities were built, before the Red Star dawned in the north? Surely…surely you must. Surely we all must, for we were all there. But it was so long ago…We have forgotten everything.” “No…not everything, elder,” Kua tried to comfort his friend, tried to reassure him in his final moments. “Surely not,” he said, “We…we have the Legends, and the walls of history, and—” “—No, Kua,” the Turaga sighed slowly, “th-they are only a reflection of…of what we have lost. I do not understand why we do not remember. No one does, and it makes us afraid. Afraid to seek out the answers to our questions. Afraid to remember.” The old Turaga shuddered, his breath rasping through crushed lungs. The accident had been so sudden, so fast. Kua had not been able to stop it. Now it had come to this. His elder was dying. His friend was dying. “We…” Kua could not find the words. “We are not afraid, elder.” “Oh, but we are, Kua,” the Turaga replied. “There…there is a darkness in our past. A darkness that we have fled from all the days of our lives. You know I am right, Kua. You are…my most trusted disciple. You know…I am right.” Kua did not understand it then. Did not comprehend the elder’s words. Standing there with the old Turaga’s hand clasped in his, choking back the tears. And afterward, when the ceremonies of death had been completed, after all the ritual and the burial and the entombment of the elder’s Kanohi was done. Even then Kua did not understand. But the words stayed with him. Gnawing at him, deep in his spirit. It drove him to seek out their meaning, to seek out some meaning…any meaning. That was why he turned to the Stars. That was why Ta-Kua, right hand of the late Turaga Vakama, resigned from his place. That was why he left his village behind, why he fled to the Tower of the Great Telescope, with its ancient markings, undeciphered. There he might find some meaning. There in that tower, alone, with only the view of the stars that the telescope offered him. He would find something there. Some way of recovering what the Matoran had lost. Some way of…remembering. It was painful to remember. Painful to hear these words again, echoing in his mind. Kua turned over in the darkness of the night and clenched his eyes, trying to sleep, trying to find some peace. But there was no peace. He could not escape his own thoughts. And the sound of the sea crashing on the rocks below was no aid in slumber. Not tonight. He would have no rest. He stood and walked to the door that opened on the Sea. He went out and stood upon the balcony of the Tower, looking out into the black night. Below, the darkness was filled with the noise of moving water, endlessly swelling up from the depths to break against the rocks of the islands of the Matoran. Endlessly trying to suck them down, to gnaw away at the foundations, to undo them by time and patience. Endless, yes. For they were the waters of the Endless Ocean, the waters that had no edge and no boundaries. Kua raised his eyes, squinting. The stars were dim tonight, clouded. But he could still see the brightest of them faintly: the constellation Nuyo, the mountain, and Hoii, the great turtle, and, shining clear in the north, Nga Rui: the Two Brothers. He knew them all, their names and their paths across the sky, their portents in the prophecies and designs etched upon the surface of the Telescope. It was said that every island had its Telescope. Every island had its link to the stars. But even knowing them so well, the stars still filled him with awe: the immenseness of space that lay between him and they, and the great patterns in which they all turned, infinitely vast. He was so small. Perhaps…perhaps he would never find what he sought, out there in all that distance and time. The thought always rose at the back of his mind on nights like this. The clutching of despair, trying to drag him down, whittle away at his resolve…would he ever find what the Matoran had lost, lost in all the distance of time? Lost in the darkness when the sea bore them, when they were led by the Great Spirit, when the cataclysm was over and the islands were scattered… You will never know. It whispered to him. It is all gone. It said. All lost beyond recall now. Kua felt sleep finally winning the battle, he had no strength to resist this…this voice out of the emptiness, out of the void. What was the point? He slumped against the stone railing, letting his head lean forward, staring into the night and seeing nothing. He didn’t know how long he remained that way, drifting in and out of sleep, fitful and restless. His muscles ached, and always his ears were filled with the noise of the crashing sea. He didn’t care, didn’t care about anything. But then…then something changed. Something in the wind, maybe, or maybe it was more subtle than that—could it be that the sound of the waves had changed? The voice of the waters no longer seemed so…so angry, so deep. And then his sleep-dulled eyes saw something. Or at least he thought he saw something, in the corner of his vision. Could it be a light? Had he stood here all night long? No, it was not the sun. It came from the north, not the east. But it was a light. Kua stirred and inclined his head slightly, looking to his right, looking to the north. It was red. A fiery, crimson glow that began as a single point, marking the edge of the horizon. Quickly it spread, outlining the surface of the ocean where it met the sky. A blazing red line, and then it all flared up and resolved into a single point again. A single light. A single star. The Red Star. Up, up it rose, faster than any of the other stars. Comet-like, it streaked up across the pattern of the heavens, drawing its scarlet line in the darkness, splitting the night sky in two as it flashed ever higher. Kua watched in dull amazement, hardly registering what he saw. Could this be real, or was he dreaming? Never before had he seen the Red Star—Inaitea, the star of prophecy—so clear and bright and moving so fast. Already it had reached the zenith, speeding south. He leaned back, trying to keep it in view as it moved behind him. The crest of the Tower would block his sight soon, and it would be lost. Kua leaned out from the railing, craning his neck to see. Suddenly there was a burst of radiance, and the trail of the Red Star swelled with the trails of other lights. Six more in all. All following, all falling. Falling in the darkness. Six new stars… A vision blossomed in his mind, filling every part of his thoughts, every crevasse, every chink, ever hidden, deep facet of his soul. He knew it was a vision—something in the way he saw things, as if everything was clearer, sharper. He stood upon the balcony no longer. No longer did the weight of his limbs or his body inhibit him. He was rising high above them all now. Among the stars. The space yawned beneath him, black and empty, and he felt fear. But above him there was light—pure light. Light and hope. The darkness reached out with formless hands to seize him, to drag him down. He cried out— —And he was answered. Out of the light above him something fell, and it seemed to embody the light. It was a stone, oval-shaped and smooth. It fell toward him and past him and struck the earth. Earth? Yes, there was earth beneath him now—the darkness had gone. Only dim sand spread on all sides. The stone towered above him, and Kua saw that it was carved with a face. It was the face of the Great Spirit. He had seen it many times in the etchings on the walls of history. An ancient face. An eternal face. And yet…the Great Spirit had not spoken to them for so long. So long. Kua wept at the memory, that slow descent into despair. He remembered how the Turaga had felt, how he had said that there were no more visions. No more prophecies given to him. They had all dried up, like water scattered upon the ground. Dried up and soaked into the earth. “…into the darkness that lies beneath,” Vakama had said, and his old eyes were sad. No visions for a century of centuries. But this…this was a new vision. This was something new. Kua looked on. The stone of the Great Spirit still towered from the sand before him, and now Kua saw that around him there were many smaller stones. They were moving, drawing closer to the great Stone, tracing lines in the sandy surface of the earth. They formed a circle around the Great Spirit, gathering themselves into smaller groups. It was good. The light seemed to shine brighter from above now, banishing the darkness. It was good… But it did not last. Suddenly a shadow fell across the scene. Great and black, it reared up from the blackness that surrounded them, and Kua felt the earth shudder as a black stone fell from heaven to bury itself in the sand beside the Great Spirit. Terror seized him, and Kua knew suddenly what it was. This was the darkness—the darkness from their past. The nameless, creeping, whispering darkness…It must be. Now the sand began to quiver again. The two Stones stood side by side now, and Kua felt the struggle between them, though he saw no visible change. Face to face they stood: the stone of the Great Spirit and the Black Stone, and Kua watched horrified as a shadow crept out of the base of the black rock and moved across the ground between them. Up, up it rose, covering the face of the Great Spirit, that ancient face. The ground quaked and shook, and Kua fell to his knees. Before him, the small piles of stones fell apart, scattering again into chaos as the earth beneath them shuddered with the struggle. Kua wanted to cry out, wanted to rush forward and do something, but he could not. It was a vision. His purpose was only to watch. And watch he did. Again the light above him flashed, and now Kua saw six smaller stones hurtle down out of the glowering sky. Six stones…they fell in a circle around the two larger ones, surrounding them, glowing with a white radiance. Something had changed. Now the balance of power was different. The earth no longer trembled in fear—it trembled with power, with energy. A shock ran through the sand, expanding outward from each of the six stones—Kua could see the ripple in the earth. Suddenly the ground lurched violently beneath the Black Stone, and the stone cracked. Cracked! The sound was like thunder, deafening Kua, but he did not turn away. It seemed that the Great Spirit had won! But it was not so, for even though the Black Stone broke, it did not crumble. Instead it fell forward, toppling, slow and immense, falling, falling… …With a great noise it struck the stone of the Great Spirit, and Kua watched in horror as both fell shattered. Shattered! The white stone toppled in ruin, and its pieces were scattered over the sand. Dust rose up, and Kua could not see. He was blinded. No! He could not bear it, could not bear to watch as the darkness claimed the Great Spirit. To see the victory of the Six Stones undone…it was too much. He fell forward upon his face, despairing. But the vision was not over, and, try as he might, Kua could not resist looking up again. There, there above him, far off in the blackness, the Red Star still hung, blazing and immense, and it seemed that a voice spoke to him out of the light of the Star, spoke to him with words that had no sound except in his mind: I have slept for so long. The words echoed through his thoughts, and now the dust cleared from before his eyes. Kua turned and looked upon the scene once more. My dreams have been dark ones. There, scattered across the sand that spread endlessly on all sides, Kua saw the remnants of the white stone. But now… The pieces stirred suddenly, rising up out of the dust in which they had been buried, tracing lines in the sand once more. …now, I am awakened. In the center, Kua saw the Six Stones, standing in their circle still, unmoved. The pieces of the white stone crept slowly back within the circle, converging on one point. Now the scattered elements of my being are rejoined. Up, up, the great stone rose once more. The face of the Great Spirit lifted again from the sand—that eternal face, regarding him again with ancient eyes… Now I am whole. And the darkness cannot stand before me. The vision ended. Kua fell forward, spent. He felt the stone of the balcony-railing rough against his hands. It was strange, feeling something solid again. He was back. He lifted his head, searching the black sky for some sign of the Red Star, but it was gone, lost in the swelling night. Kua’s spirit fell. Was it over then? No, for though the Star was gone, the night was not dark. Another light was shining, but it was not the light of the Inaitea. It was morning. Dawn broke from the east as Kua stood motionless atop the Tower of the Telescope. The spreading sunlight flashed across the water and turned it all to gold as he watched, still exhausted from the vision. This was a light that did not fade. There was something different on this morning. Surely there was. Surely something had changed. Six new stars… Kua closed his eyes. Peace flooded through him as the sunlight swelled over the ocean. Yes, he would find the strength to continue. Find the strength to carry on through the distance and the time…find a way to remember, to discover what was lost. He had been given the key… He leaned forward heavily on the railing, eyes still closed. The light seemed to shine through his eyelids, filling his mind with warmth, with peace, with freedom and release. He was light as a bird, light as air. Soaring in the wind. Soaring like the birds. Falling, falling away into nothing… Crack. The black stone of the railing broke, cracked, gave way, and Kua fell. Fell down, down. The air rushed in his ears, deafening him, but he didn’t care. Didn’t care as the water rose up to take him. Didn’t care as the darkness yawned to accept him in its embrace—the darkness that lies beneath. Didn’t care, for he was a light now, a light hurtling down into the dark, and he knew, knew in the depths of his soul, as if a voice still spoke to him there… …Knew that it was not the end. The sea rose and crashed upon the rocks, endlessly gnawing at the foundations of the world. Birds sang in the morning, circling high above the Tower of the Telescope, set alone upon the coast of the island of Mata Nui. No one stood on the broken balcony there. No figure watched at the window. The morning was still again. But far below, where the pebbled shore stretched northward in an unbroken line, a round metal cylinder lay half-buried in the sand. The sunlight glinted on its ancient burnished face as it lay there, waiting. Waiting. Patient. Through all the distance and the time…Waiting… …and dreaming.
=||=I have slept for so long. My dreams have been dark ones. But now, I am awakened. Now the scattered elements of my being are rejoined. Now I am whole. And the darkness cannot stand before me. =||= JRRT