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Pohaturon

The Legend Continues – Of Druids and Shadow

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In the time before time, long before the fall of the Mask Makers and the coming of the Toa, the mythical island of Okoto was beset by a foe the island would rue for millennia. Fate – or destiny – would have it that the events of a distant past would shape an uncertain future. Like so many other great legends, this one begins on a beach. - Of Druids and Shadow

 

Poaruu was spending his afternoon with the one task he found no enjoyment in – fishing. As a cook, it was a necessary part of his duty to the village, but one he despised nonetheless. “How could anyone find this to be relaxing?” – He thought. He’s hardly collected enough fish for the evening’s feast, which was to mark the Rite of Initiation for the new elder. Nothing as fancy as the Rite of Empowerment of a new Protector for the whole region, but a marked day still. Poaruu was snapped out of his worries about running out of time by a sight he hasn’t seen in months. A gargantuan body burst from the water, far out at sea. He recognized it instantly: Akida, primal aspect of Water. She often swam around the whole island, popping up off the shores of each region. However today, instead of a majestic flip, the body of the great whale slapped back into the water unnaturally. Then he heard it – cries of agony. Wading into the water as far as he dared, he noted something strange about the creature, but couldn’t pin it down. The waves were carrying her ashore. His mind raced. “We need the Druid!” – He thought and turned to run into the village.

 

By the time he got back, the aspect was already washed up. Now, he could see what seemed so peculiar from afar, and up close, it was terrifying. Jagged weapons, the likes of which he has never seen, jutted from the body of the mighty beast. The rustle of leaves – there were no trees in the region of Stone – indicated help has arrived. For a moment, seemingly out of nowhere, a handful of plants sprouted nearby and a tall figure arose. He towered far above Poaruu, clad in brown robes. Strong legs carried the barked body licked with a touch of green here and there. But the most notable feature of the newcomer were his antlers, glorious and intimidating. “Druid Umarak, you are here!” – He called out. The druid rushed to Akida, and began stroking her face. “Quickly, remove those foul things!” – He commanded Poaruu, pointing at the foreign weapons. Akida was heaving, but other noises escaped her mouth as well. After Poaruu, with much difficulty, took out the pair of what now turned out to be spears, Umarak moved to the wounds and held out his hands. His palms began to glow green, and the wounds began to seal right before Poaruu’s eyes. Soon, Akida was breathing easier. “Who could have done this?” – The cook asked, but the druid hushed him. Seemingly Umarak was listening to Akida. “Of course, the Druid is the only one who understands the great Aspects”. Finally, Umarak turned to Poaruu with much concern in his eyes. “I must meet the protectors at once.” – He said. “What is wrong?” – The cook asked. Umarak’s response filled him with a new kind of fear – the fear of the uncertain. “Those who did this came from beyond the sea.”

 

Soon, the Druid had gathered the protectors and brought them to Poaruu’s village. With the help of his magics, Umarak could bring the leaders of Okotoan society with him across great distances with great haste, and all were assembled by eve. “Are you sure of what the aspect said to you?” – Taito, surprisingly hot-headed for one hailing from the region of Ice, demanded of him at the onset of the council. “You are not one to question my words, nor that of the Aspect.” – His response was stern. “I have healed her wounds by then, pain could not have compelled her.” The protectors were uneasy, faced with an issue no literature nor legend has prepared them for. “How is this even possible? How could something come from beyond the sea?” – The protector of Fire pleaded. “Never have we sailed beyond eyesight of Okoto. It may be so that other islands exist as well.” – The protector of Water added. “Druid, what did Akida tell you of these attackers?” – Ihan, protector of the Jungle turned to Umarak. “Only things that could trouble us further. They sail upon ships of metal, rougher and harder than with what the Mask Makers work. They are as tall as I. Beyond this, she merely repeated a single word I do not recognize: Kulta.” – He said. “Kulta? A name perhaps?” – Ihan asked back. “If so, it will go down in history as a hated one. The meeting was interrupted by the sound of a guard’s horn, after which a winded villager burst into the hut. “Protectors! Druid! Ships are approaching, hundreds! They are not of any region we know!” – He spat between gasps.

 

Poaruu was so preoccupied with the events earlier that day that he could barely focus on his cooking. Umarak’s words haunted him, and he couldn’t but shake the curiosity as to what went on behind the closed doors of the emergency council. “I should be in there. I saw her!” – He thought, annoyed. Commotion outside tore him from his thoughts. As he stepped outside, he was almost knocked over by a trio of guards rushing towards the shore. “It can’t be Skull Spiders, the annual culling was not a fortnight ago… and they’re running to the shore!” – He started after them. Nearing the beach, he opted to scale one of the village walls for a better vantage point, and the vista that played out before him was unlike anything he ever saw. Countless ships were moments away from making landfall, and all the guards were lined up on the beach. The Druid and the Protectors were among them. Soon, the first ship – large, sporting black sails and an oversized ram on its stem. Off the railings jumped a large, albeit spindly figure. Its hardened leathery skin was covered by rough armor, its face obscured by a mask most frightening, crowned with two horns jutting forward. He walked towards the assembled guards, followed by many similar beings – among them devilish creatures led on chains, not unlike the scorpions of Poaruu’s home region. Umarak started ahead to meet the leader of the invaders head on. “Who are you to encroach upon our peaceful lands, to hurt one of our revered aspects?” – He shouted. The being walked uncomfortably close to the Druid, staring him in the eye. “Kulta.” – He said, as if to mock Umarak. “And what is it you are here for?” – The druid did not flinch.

“Conquest.”

 

Next, everything happened too fast. Before Poaruu knew what happened, the horde of invaders charged the guards. Umarak grappled with Kulta before disappearing in a puff of leaves and spiriting away the gathered protectors as well. The attackers tore through the guards within moments, and smoke had already filled the night sky. He rushed to street level, around him screams and shouting. He tried running in the opposite direction, but the invaders were already spread out in the village. The stench of death had begun to spread, and turning a corner Poaruu was met with a sight so gruesome as to prompt him to turn around. Against his better judgement, instinct drove him to the shore where he found Akida not half a day ago. Only the imprint of the glorious being was left in the sand. He waded into the waves once more, not knowing what to do, when a head popped up above the surface nearby. It was smaller – about half the size of what it was before – but could not be mistaken: Akida was here. She emitted a series of chirping sounds and sped towards Poaruu. Passing him and turning back, she swam up right next to him and offered a flipper. He understood. Grabbing it, he glanced back at his village one last time, and she began to swim.

 

---

 

“I, Umarak, Druid of Okoto, am about to do something I swore to forever avoid. Five years ago, the warlord Kulta and his horde of Titans invaded the region of Stone. Since then, they have managed to poison our revered Aspects, causing them to weaken to a state my powers cannot heal. Alone, they are no longer powerful. In my possession is an ancient Mask of Power that I had hoped to keep locked away for eternity, but it seems that in our darkest hour, sin is our only salvation.”– The Final Testament of the Druid

 

Poaruu was keeping watch on the battlements of the City of the Mask Makers. The city was the last bastion of Okotoan resistance save for a few small pockets scattered in the remote regions of the island. He had managed to survive five years of bloodshed. It was five years ago that he cooked his last true meal, and ever since, he was forced to fight. All of the protectors have perished with no clear line of succession. The only battles which do not end in defeat are those where the Druid is present, however the Titans attack on many fronts. Umarak has organised the few survivors into a half-decent army, but they are far outmatched and outnumbered by the trained murderers they face. Even after all this time, they learned very little of them – they know now that their world, a globe, is home to several islands. Kulta and his horde have been traveling from island to island, fighting the locals each time. His people have fashioned armor from the bones of their victims as a fear tactic, even using the corpses of Skull Spiders as masks. Umarak had recently returned to the City, warning the defenders that Kulta was preparing for a final assault to complete his “glorious victory”. “There has been enough killing.” – He said. “I will permit this no longer.” The defenders were on edge ever since, not understanding. “If he could put an end to this, why hasn’t he before?” – Many asked. Ever since, he had cradled an odd object, obscured by cloth. Poaruu sensed a slight shake. It began to grow stronger and rhythmic. “They’re here.” – He thought with dread.

 

From between the ridges of the mountains high flowed, like a sick river, the horde. Their marching shook the earth, chanting smuggled fear into hearts thought to be steeled. They were near the walls when Umarak opened the Gate of the Anvil and strode out alone. “If you come to offer surrender, you waste your breath, Druid.” – Kulta spat the last word mockingly. “We come only for death.” – He finished. “If it is death that you invoke, death is what you shall receive!” – Umarak shouted. He removed the cloth and held high in the air a Mask of Power, much unlike the Mask of Healing he wore now. It was uniform black, seemingly swallowing all light, and yet jagged with sinister features. “The Mask of Death. The forbidden mask.” – He thought. “I wish I needn’t bear this burden.” – He removed his own and replaced it with the black mask. He immediately felt weak and nauseated, his muscles gave way and he collapsed. Kulta began to laugh a terrifying laugh, and his soldiers joined in. But soon the cackle had gone on too long, and the other Titans fell silent in confusion. Kulta continued his hysterical cacophony, then staggered. His laugh faltered, and almost immediately was replaced by a shrill scream. Before the eyes of Poaruu and the other defenders, their most hated enemy fell to his knees as his flesh burned away seemingly on its own. Soon, the confused Titans followed suit, their screams tearing up the sky itself as they were seared away where they stood. Nought but their bones remained moments later, collapsed in distorted positions.

 

Umarak didn’t rise for many minutes. His body was smoking slightly, and his armor hissed as rain began to fall upon it. He rose to a seated position and remained like that even longer. When he opened his eyes, he was startled even though he knew the price of using the mask. Red spike sprouted from his arms, the his bark-like skin charred to black, green flesh turned sickly. He looked down into the puddle that had accumulated before him – the mask had cracked from the strain of being used on so many opponents. Dark power leaked from its surface, clouding the vision of the Druid – former Druid. “Even if the vows are broken and the mask used, it may only happen once. After death is unleashed, there remains only… shadow.” – He recited the teachings. Soon, the behavioral changes will manifest, then he will be drawn to the dark corners of the world. The gates of the city were opened, and the defenders slowly walked out. Among them was the elder they had all sworn to protect – the old Mask Maker. Umarak approached the procession in spite of the now fearful looks he received. “What have you done, Druid?” – The Mask Maker’s voice was also tainted by fear. “I know the weight of my actions and accept them. I will retreat into exile. The people of Okoto must persevere without a Druid.” – He said. “I am old, Umarak – what will we do come another crisis? The line of the Protectors has been broken, I am near the dusk of my life and even you leave us now?” – He pleaded. “Any who were strong enough to survive this war are worthy of the title of protector. As for your successor… look to the region of Ice. I discovered the heir of the Anvil long ago, he is safe. Ekimu is his name, you must search for him and bring him to the city.” – Umarak replied. “What of the aspects?” – The elder persisted. “They are diminished and in hiding until… until the coming of the six.” – The Druid hushed his voice. The Mask Maker had no more questions, so Umarak looked at the gathered Okotoans one last time, then left. Poaruu was among those who saw him disappear into the woods. “Where is he going?” – He asked aloud. “Into shadow…” – The Mask Maker replied solemnly.

 

---

 

Strong claws gripped the trunk of the tree surely. An armored arm kept the body upright, half-hanging while the other shielded eyes from the hated glare of the sun. He dropped to the ground, and headed to the river. Passing by a tree with marks left by smaller claws, he walked down to the stream. The sand had been disturbed recently. Something drank here. “Ah, yes…” A nibbled fruit lay nearby. He strode over, picked it up and lifted it to his face.

The hunter had caught a scent.

 

:kakama:

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:kakama: Stone rocks :kakama:

I write stories, which you can read at A Beach, Somewhere. My MOCs can be found on Flickr and Instagram

:smilepohatunu: :smilehuki:

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This is a sweet piece of work, my friend-great way of linking things together.

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Voicing your opinions with tact is the best way to keep a discussion from becoming an argument.
So far as I'm aware, it's pronounced like this: We're ee ah moo.
 

Check out my Creations:

Epics

G1 Battle for Spherus Magna - G2 A Lingering Shadow


Short Stories

G1 Fallen Guardian - G2 Shadows of Past and Future (The Legend Continues Entry) Head of Stone, Heart of Jungle


MOCs

Mask Hoarder, Desert Scourge

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I love how you made Umarak have a much more interesting backstory and character rather than having him be some generic hunter. Great work, and good luck!

Thanks! I always did think there was more potential in that character than was shown.

 

:kakama:


:kakama: Stone rocks :kakama:

I write stories, which you can read at A Beach, Somewhere. My MOCs can be found on Flickr and Instagram

:smilepohatunu: :smilehuki:

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