-==-==-=.=-----I was sitting in my accustomed chair in the observatory, leaning back, my eyes closed. Almost seven years had passed and the Great Star Festival was only a few days away. I heard Swaar enter the room, something in her step awakened me suddenly. ----"Olru is dying", Swaar said, tears in her voice, if not her eyes. ----"Surely not! I saw him only this morning, as well as you or I." But I knew it was true, startled as I was there was no alternative. I reached for her hand; she gave it to me. ----"He wants you to come to him. And quickly." ----I laid my other hand on top of hers for a split second, and sprinted from the Observatory, taking the shortest route I knew to his dwelling. ----Though Onu-Matoran are not known for their speed, I ran the half kio that separated my friend's home from his workplace in only a few minutes. Everyone I passed watched me, with unspoken questions in their looks. ---- I went in the door, sudden silence replacing the noise of the street and my speed. ----"Voon, what's wrong with him?" ----"Something beyond my knowledge, Rhoj." our Fe-Matoran physician replied, one clenched hand the only sign of his anguish. "Go in now, his time seems short." ---- I saw Olru. As noble and self-contained on his deathbed as he ever was in the Observatory. Not laid out flat, but sitting up, and seemingly fully conscious. He spoke first. ----"I have not much time left. You are to be Chief Astrologer upon my... death. Call in Voon to witness this declaration." ----I called to Voon to come in abstractedly, with my thoughts useless and repetitive. ----"Rhoj. Come closer." He raised a hand telling Voon to wait on the threshold. I bent down towards him, and he said quietly (I cannot say he whispered it). ----"All stars represent a living being's spirit. This explains in some degree the Toa's appearance seven years ago. This knowledge is not to be taken lightly, nor distributed. It could be very dangerous." ----I couldn't see how, but I nodded, my face muscles tightening. I could hardly absorb what he had just told me, in such a setting and of such a nature. He shoved me away from him, as Voon and Turaga Astinn walked in the door. I bowed to the Turaga. ----"Rhoj is to assume the role of Chief Astrologer upon my death. You, Turaga, and Voon are my witnesses in this." He said it with varying firmness, but strongly at the end. ----Voon strode over to him, and then escorted me out of the room. I had seen his heartlight blink out.
-==-==-=.=-----"Rhoj, you better get some sleep if you want to be fresh for the Festival tomorrow. Those stars will still be there, Astrologer." ----"I should try and rest, I know, but something's... queer about the stars tonight. I've never seen them move so quickly, and their message is unclear to me..." I trailed off, my eye against my telescope. I removed it only to survey two of the many stellar charts we had in the Aku Magna, the greatest observatory on Spherus Magna. The stars were indeed strange tonight, and I was more disturbed by them than I let on to Swaar. I had forgotten her presence when she spoke again, "Who was it who said 'There is no reasoning with a Matoran who loves his work'?" I could tell from her voice that she was smiling under her Kanohi. I took my eye from the telescope, and turned towards her, smiling a bit myself, "Boro, a Po Matoran, the laziest philosopher who ever lived. Don't worry, sister, the Great Festival doesn't start until nightfall, and there are many hours left till dawn. I don't need much sleep anyway." I winked at her, "I'll be fine, you should get some sleep yourself." ----I returned to my work. I wanted to figure this out before attempting sleep, hard enough for me at any time, but with this on my mind the chances were nil. ----I was walking around the building, examining the charts that plotted the dances of the stars, hoping to find one that vaguely resembled the performance of the night. The stars had sped up from their accustomed almost indiscernible plodding only slightly, but to one experienced in the ways of the heavens, even that degree was an unsettling one. It seemed to have a desperation about it... ----But there, I saw it. An ancient chart, that was fixed to the floor in one of the many obtuse corners of our facility. The stars had moved in that pattern before. To be sure, the Great Stars' dance matched this perfectly, and several of the minor stars that I checked had danced this as well. I muttered an invocation to the Great Spirit before I turned the document over, to see the writing on the back where would say what the meaning of the performance was. It read, "All is well." ----All is well. ----I didn't heave a sigh of relief, but I did go to bed. I have much confidence in the ancients.
-==-==-=.=-----It was the evening of the Great Star Festival in Solis Wahi, my village. As the Chief Astrologer, mine was the place of honor, set below only the Four Empty Chairs. Even our three Turaga were seated below me. It was a great time for the village, and for me, as this was my first Star Festival in the role of head Astrologer. The years of preparation and anticipation had been leading all minds to this night. The death of Olru laid a shadow over the event, but it was nearly unanimously ignored. The fireworks had just gone, and it was nearing the time at which all lights were doused so that we might better see the stars. I had watched even the Star Dance listlessly, my mind on Olru's absence. ----As he had so many times before, Astinn, Turaga of Fire, rose to his feet with a flame on his staff. Silence fell upon the many Matoran assembled. ----Simultaneously, the Turaga's fire and the torches succumbed to the darkness. ---- I looked to the stars, remembering how the Toa had appeared seven years ago, and given me the package I still carried on my person. ----I looked first to the Great Western Star, then to the Great Souther Star, the great Northern Star, and the Great Eastern Star, mentally naming each as I had done before. The instant before I called the Great Eastern Star by name... ----Excuse me. ----The instant before I called the Great Eastern Star by name it blinked into the darkness. Vanished without a trace into the celestial blackness. I didn't hear myself cry out, but perhaps I did. ---- It was a second before the masses of Matoran noticed it. At first, they searched, panicked, some calling out that it must be hidden behind a cloud, or that it was not in its proper place. Panic was just beginning to make itself felt among us when the Minor Stars of the East South blinked out, then several of the Lesser Stars all at once... The crowd was running to their homes, the Turaga loudly saying things that I for one had no ears to comprehend. ----I pass on from this scene, the most terrible of my life. Suffice to say that the stars were noticeably lessened, and that only two of the Great Stars survived until daybreak. There was no sleep in the village that night.
-==-==-=.=-----A knock was knocked on my door. I had been in the Observatory since dawn, studying the many charts, unearthing ancient records, searching for the meaning behind the death of the stars. To no avail. ----I knew who was at the door, and why they had come. I closed my eyes for moment. ----"It's open." I said, turning my chair slowly to face the entrance. ----Turaga Astinn, Turaga Dowve and Turaga Eswin walked in, and stood facing me. I rose. ----"Chief Astrologer of Aku Magna. What is the meaning behind the darkening of the stars?" ----"I don't know, nothing like it has ever happened before. At least not on this scale. From time to time a star will fall, and another will rise. That is part of the long cycle of the stars, the overall dance. Beyond the obvious fact that this event bodes ill, there is nothing I can tell you." ----"Find out. You are Chief Astrologer, and the stars must hold the answer." ----They left, as grimly and swiftly as they had come. ----I sat for a moment, my head bent. Then I got up and ran after them. ----They turned, startled, "What is it, Rhoj? The answer?" ----"No. the answer does not lie here. I must journey forth. Perhaps they know more in Metru Magna, or one of the lesser cities. We have not the knowledge." ----The Turaga consulted among themselves. Resolved, "Go then, Rhoj. You know better where to look for the answer than any living Matoran, as senior ranking astrologer of the greatest observatory in the world. Your judgment must stand." ----Did I sense a slight emphasis on the word 'Living'? Perhaps not. ----"I guess I'll leave right away." ----We went our separate ways. I walked back to the Observatory alone, slowly. ----Swaar walked up beside me, locking step. She looked at my face, bent away from her. ----"Why do you have to go? Where better to find the answers than here?" ----"I know all that this place has to offer, and I know not the source nor meaning behind this." ----I could tell she was wondering what the villagers would think. ----I coughed slightly. 'I'll be leaving as soon as I get my gear together." ----"Goodbye, Swaar." That was all. ----She reached into here pack, and pulled something out. Her mirror-crystal, a crystal shaped to fit to your eyes used often when reading the stars. When you looked through the crystal everything was reversed, left was right and right was left. She handed it to me, looked me in the eye for a moment, and ran away. ----A strange gift.
-==-==-=.=-----I had been three days upon the chill road. On the first day the Great Northern Star had ceased to shine, leaving only the Great Star of the West of the great stars still inhabiting the sky. The Middle and Lesser stars continued to blink out, one by one, though usually close together. ----My sense of urgency and futility built as the stars were unbuilt. I hurried more and more. ----I had just passed through a small koro, when, on the outskirts I saw a small hut. Without knowing why, I began walking towards it. ----As I approached, the door opened, and a light shown. ----"Friend of Toa, would you care to accept a roof in return for an hours conversation?" ----A Turaga, of Iron, by the look of him. I bowed, and entered. I wouldn't have stopped, but I was near exhaustion. It would be nice to get out of the cold. ----He offered me some food, and we sat side by side, facing the fire. ----"I am an old physician, Friend. I was a caretaker of Matoran's bodies before I was a Toa, during, and... after." He paused. " I have lived in this hut long, for a thousand years or more, practicing my craft upon Matoran in danger of death. In my many years I have learned many things. What ills are of the body, what of the mind, what of the senses, what of the spirit. What I can cure, and what is beyond my power. ----"The world is sick. And it will die, unless something is done, Matoran. The source of the disease is hard to fathom. We are all the bodies of the stars, the stars are tangible manifestations of our spirits. The mind is connected to the body, but the senses are connected to the spirit. The mind can only have sight, hearing, and pain through the spirit. I think the world will go blind, when the stars are lost to us. I do not know." ----I turned over what he was saying in my mind. Half of it sounded like the fancies of a mathematician when he has wandered too far from known facts, but the other half I knew to be true. For Olru's word was good. I pondered these things. ----I must have fallen asleep a moment by the fire. I got up. Wearily. ----"I must go on, wise one. My quest is an urgent one." ----"That much I know. Do not fail." ----The door closed behind me, and I walked into the sunset, once more alone in the cold. Few stars still shown overhead, all the Middle and Minor stars were lost, with only the Great Western Star still bright in the sky. There were still many of the insignificant stars, who are unnamed and whose paths are uncharted, mere pale points in the darkness.
-==-==-=.=-----I continued West, keeping my eye upon the last of the Great Stars as it shone brightly, almost courageously. I was glad it had been spared thus far, for I considered it above all other stars. As I walked a cliff rose to my right, two hundred feet or more in height, the path following along its base. It began to snow lightly, and this offered me some shelter as I marched, my pack on my shoulder. As I eyed the Great Star, the Western star, the last of the Great Stars still shining, it suddenly blinked once, and dims. ----"No..." I whispered. Somehow this star meant more to me than all the others. More than a mere star. ----Something hit the path in front of me, fallen from the cliff top. I ran to it. A Toa, face down, his armor broken in a dozen places, as though by impossibly hard blows. ----I turned him over lightly, seeing he had taken even more damage from the front than from behind, his chest plate shattered, his shoulder armor now useless. His eyes blinked with his heartlight. As I saw his mask I recognized him as the Toa who had appeared at the great Star festival seven years ago, though it seemed an eon. ----"...It has no star of its own..." ----He gasped, "It is... invincible to any blow of ours, for it exists on a different plane of reality... ...Let not my Kanohi be dishonored by its touch... ...Stargazer." ----He raised his hand, and as I looked up, the Western Star flared brightly, and then was gone. When I looked down, the Toa's heartlight was dark. ----This was the hour of direst need that he had spoken of. ----I stood up, and opened the package that I still carried with me, all those weary miles. ----A Toa Stone. ----"To use in the time of direst peril, and to discover its nature when that time comes." ----I closed my eyes, and transformed into a Toa, though perhaps not a hero.
-==-==-=.=-----With great power comes great responsibility, someone once said. If you ever run into them tell them they're absolutely right. ----I buried the Toa, a Toa of Gravity with a Mask of Gravity, whose name I may never know, seven feet under the earth, facing west. It was only minutes since I used the stone. My element and Kanohi had taken on a new significance, Earth no longer just an arbitrary designation or a temperament, but a power. My Kanohi no longer just a powerless mask, but a Great Mask of Shielding. With it, my perspective had also changed: my village, the world and even reality were not things merely to be inhabited, but things to be protected. ----And something up on that cliff was threatening all these things. I added the Toa's Garai to my pack, alongside Swaars mirror-crystal, my telescope and a few widgets, seeking to fill his final request, the meaning of which I did not fully comprehend. ----I used my elemental powers to carry me up the side of the cliff. It was time to end this.
-==-==-=.=-----I caught sight of the Creature for the first time, in all its horror. From where I stood it looked like a strange mass of awkward limbs, mottled gray and black and white, a pile of bones in the darkness. It was lit by a strange light, from an angle and of a hue that lit nothing around it, light not of our world. ----It sat inanimate, no muscle moving, no sign of watchfulness. I took a step forward. ----And it awoke. ----With a speed rendered disturbing by its mass and shape it charged me, the charge of an enraged animal. I used my powers, unaccustomed as I was to wielding them, and raised a thick wall of earth to stop it. It ran straight through it, the wall no more perturbed than the it was. I raised another, and it too was unshattered and impotent. The second before it hit me, my Hau flared to life, granting a shield all around me. The Creature stopped in its tracks. Its many arms pounded on my shield ceaselessly, but with no rhythm. I saw it had a string of masks slung over it, trophies of its battles. ----I gazed through my shield in horror, seeing at close range the foulness of the beast. It had a head, and a very black face, but a face with only a mouth, no eyes or nose. It had two small hands, and many other stronger arms that ended in clubs of exposed bone four feet long or more. I know not how many of these it had, more than six, I think. ----Then it spoke. ----Had I expected it to speak, which I never for a moment did, I would not have expected the strange voice that it spoke in. The creature was so animalistic and enraged, and the voice so calm. ----"Another Toa? An encore to my performance. How come you here? For I thought I had slain all of your kind. ----"It is key that you die, however; not one may be spared. For the cycle might continue if even one were to survive my purge." ----I spoke "So that is why the stars are dying, for the Toa are dying." The enormity of the evil was a shock. ----The strange voice said, over the pounding of the limbs against the shield that had saved me thus far, "What are stars? My eyes have never looked at them." ----Involuntarily I glanced upward, and saw the pitiful remains of the celestial kingdom, with nothing brighter than a candle appears a kio distant. But wait, a star shines! Not great star, but with the look of a Middle star about it. My attention was drawn to it even in the situation I was in. ----That star is mine, me, I realized. My own star! ----It spoke again, "The stars are beautiful. Thank you." ----I was so distracted me shield wavered. I closed my eyes and concentrated on keeping up my shield, the only thing between me and the Thing. ----As soon as I closed my eyes, the blows became less sure, some missed entirely, others ricocheted off. I kept my eyes closed, curious at this sudden change. The blows soon stopped entirely. ----Then it all fell into place. The star was the spirit of a being, the Great Stars for Great beings, and the smaller for the less noble and significant. Even Rahi may have stars. But this Creature had none. ----The spirit is connected to the senses, the wise Turaga had said. Without a spirit, one is blind, deaf and numb. ----This Creature had no senses of its own. It must piggyback on whoever was nearby, seeing itself only from a third person perspective, hearing itself only through other ears. And its own body entirely numb. ----"You are blind now, aren't you Creature?" ----"You know my secret, young one. But no matter, it will not avail you, and it will die with you. And when you are dead, the cycle of Matoran life will be broken, its weakest link shattered. The Matoran will die, one by one, and this world will be as it once was. ----"It seems not long ago that this world was merely a void, with no light or, substance. Then the Matoran came, and the darkness was shattered." ----A random blow struck my shield, and hearing the sound through my ears, the creature struck in that direction again, the second blow landing more solidly. ----"And when you have joined your brothers in their graves, this universe will once more slowly ascend into oblivion." ----While he talked, a plan sprung into my mind. I opened up my pack, my eyes still closed, my shield still up, and pulled out the Kanohi Garai and the mirror-crystal. Disorienting as the blows were, I still knew that the cliff edge was about five bio to my left. Though no force we raised against it could affect it, a more natural attack, wrought by no mortal being... ----"You want the mask of the Toa you last slew, creature? He was one of the greatest of his kind." ----"Yes, I would like that, young one. A hobby of mine, trophies. I would let you live if you just gave me that mask." ----I bet you would, I thought inaudibly. Most likely he was just trying to get me off my guard, but he appeared to have a genuine desire for trophies. ----I adjusted the mirror-crystal on my face, and opened my eyes, looking at the cliff edge, which appeared to be on my left, and at the Creature. I held the Garai in my hand, closed my eyes, and threw the Kanohi to my left. ----The Creature leapt to the side, to catch the Kanohi in mid-flight. The mouth smiled, thinking it had caught the mask, even though the mask was safely on the ground to my left. ----And the Creature was over a three hundred foot drop. The scream was short.
-==-==-=.=-From dying friend and dying strangerParting gift, and march to dangerVictory was wrought and wrestedMany lives were bought, death bested- 55555
Edited by 55555, Dec 01 2011 - 09:58 PM.