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A Simpler Time - The Legend Continues

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"Arika!" Lewa called. "Come on back!" The young villager looked back at him. Arika was already halfway up a tree and hesitant about coming back down. Lewa stepped up to the base of the tree. "Here, hop down," he beckoned. "I'll catch you and carry you!" The child's face lit up beneath her brown mask and she carefully dropped down to where Lewa stood. He effortlessly caught her and lifted her up to sit on his shoulders. Lewa and the group of other villagers started moving again.

 

"We should be more careful, Lewa," Kopaka said as the Uniter of Jungle resumed his place next to him. "If we were to lose anyone out here..."
 
"I know, brother," Lewa said. "We do need to make sure everyone is safe, but I admit... I wish we could let them have some fun." He could feel Arika idly running her fingers along the ridges of his Mask.
 
"We're out here, aren't we? Not cooped up in the City. There's some fun in that, I think."
 
"Sure, but the tone is all wrong. Ekimu and the Protectors refuse to allow these walks without us accompanying them. We have to constantly worry about sticking together, about staying within sight of the City. I wish that the villagers could feel free to climb the trees they want to, to explore the land as they wish."
 
"And one day, they will," Kopaka reassured him. "But not right now. We can't risk losing any more villagers to Umarak."
 
"I know," Lewa said. Upon her insistence, he knelt and let Akira off his shoulders and she ran to catch up with her parents. "But I don't have to enjoy it."
 
Kopaka kept looking at Akira's family, at other families in the group. "Do you think we could ever have something like that?" he asked. "To settle down, once this is all over. To have... a family?"
 
Lewa looked at the Uniter of Ice curiously. "I'm not sure. Perhaps, if there were more like us."
 
"Who is to say there aren't? Maybe there are many Toa across the sea, on the other side of the planet."
 
"I think we would have heard them. Or the Okotans would have, at least."
 
Kopaka nodded solemnly. "Are we doomed to loneliness then?"
 
"I'm wounded!" Lewa said, hand to his chest. "Having five other Toa around isn't enough for you?"
 
"It's not that, I just..."
 
Lewa laughed and clapped the Uniter of Ice on the shoulder. "I understand. I've felt it too. Being surrounded by villagers doesn't make the feeling go away. They may bear the same color of armor, but it's not the same. They aren't the same. They don't know what it's like to wield this power, to have this duty, to be this tall. That's something only we six can share."
 
"Right..." Kopaka said, nodding.
 
"We'll always be there for each other, Kopaka," Lewa assured.
 
Kopaka smiled. "That's enough, I think." After a few moments of peaceful silence, he continued: "So... what do you want, Lewa? Once this is all done."
 
"After we defeat Makuta and the island is made whole again? Hmm..." He hadn't put much thought into this. There had been so many immediate problems to deal with over the past several months; indeed, since his first arrival on Okoto, that he hadn't found it necessary to plan that far ahead. "Suppose I'd have to find something to keep myself busy. I could... do tours."
 
"Tours?"
 
"Like this one." He gestured to the jungle around them. "Who better to give you a guided tour of the landscape than the Uniter of Jungle himself?" he said with a laugh. "Maybe I could even take a villager or two to the skies with me. I could take my own brand of freedom and share it with whoever would like to enjoy it with me."
 
"And this would make you happy?"
 
"I think it could. If I am enjoying myself and also bringing happiness to others, then yes. And I could always try other things too. Why just stick with one? Maybe I could get into cartography. Few can see the island from the perspective I can."
 
"If Tahu were here, he'd have something to say about that," Kopaka chuckled.
 
"Which is why we left him at the docks," Lewa acknowledged. "He's stuck doing work while you and I get the relaxing task of walking in nature. Well, relatively relaxing I suppose." Lewa looked through the trees and spotted a waterfall in the distance, almost completely blocked by trunks. A deep part of him wanted to spring to it at quickly as he could, to fully gaze upon its beauty and be refreshed by it, but another part of him wondered how many places a beast or Umarak himself could be hiding between where he stood and where the water stopped its fall. How many shadows that a hunter could pop out of...
 
"I'm glad for this walk, Kopaka," Lewa said. "It's reminded me why we fight." He looked the Toa of Ice firmly in the eye. "We fight and protect the villagers, and I am proud and happy to do so. I would never abandon my duty. But I fight so that, in the end, the villagers don't need us. They can walk the woods, enjoy waterfalls, do all the things they want to do, and do them without fear. That's what I truly want for them."
 
++++++++
 
Tahu stood next to Gali on a dock, watching the Espian trade ship pull into harbor. Strange beings that wore no armor scurried across the deck of the distant ship. Tahu wasn't sure whether to be fascinated or revolted by the sight. He decided he could find something in the middle. "What was on this one again?" he asked.
 
"Mostly more building materials," Gali said, looking over a manifest that had been sent in advance. "Cut stones and metal fixtures. Also some of their finer foods."
 
"I trust we will be taking only the materials," Tahu said.
 
Gali looked sidelong at him. "You don't think the villagers would enjoy the food?"
 
"I don't think they need the food. We have enough as it is. We should be spending our resources on things we don't already have, things we need. The villagers can have their luxuries when the danger has passed."
 
Gali nodded and discretely hid the page that recorded her agreement to trade several fine pearls she had found underwater for a few packages of sweet litimato bread, an Espian delicacy. "And how goes the building?" she asked.
 
"It goes well," Tahu said. "Onua and Pohatu have the made the process surprisingly easy. Pohatu is able to lift stones that would be impossible for the villagers' makeshift cranes to carry, and Onua is able to test for stability. Even Ketar and Terak pitched in by helping carry materials." Talk of the others' creatures made him wonder where his own had gotten off to. He quickly spotted Ikir sitting on a dock post, looking out to sea. The creature seemed to be eyeing fish that were surfacing in the water, but he seemed hesitant. He still doesn't like the water... He shook his head, laughing internally, and continued: "The City should be fully fortified by the end of the month. From there, we can start branching out to the old settlements again. Maybe even reclaim some of the fallen Regional cities."
 
"And what of them when this is over? Will Okoto still need its walls?"
 
"Don't know. Maybe someday, there will be another attack from outside the island. If that happens, having more defenses won't hurt."
 
Gali hummed and looked out to sea. She spotted a few villagers out on the waves, surfing on boards they themselves had crafted. Oh, to be out there with them...
 
Tahu chuckled. "Surfing on water..." he said. "It pales in comparison to the Fire Region's lava surfing. Have you seen it?"
 
"I have," Gali said with a smirk. "It looks slow and dangerous."
 
"That's the fun of it," Tahu said. "And it's not slow. If you can find a good tunnel, the lava flows as swiftly as any sea wave. And you should see the boards... Some of them even rival my old board. You know, before all the new gear."
 
"Do you even know how to surf?" Gali asked. "What's a fancy board with no skill in its rider?"
 
"Well..." Tahu shrugged. "Not exactly. I bet you don't either, though." He nudged her playfully. "I bet Enirr could teach me. They say she's the best on the island. And if I become skilled at lava surfing, just imagine how good I'd be on water."
 
"I'd like to see you try," Gali said. "I suppose we'll both have to train hard once this dark business has passed. And when the time comes..."
 
"An epic showdown," Tahu said. "You're on!" He bumped fists with Gali, sealing their pact of competitive camaraderie.
 
They sat there for a while, watching as the boat was unloaded, the sun setting slowly behind it.
 
"I traded for some litimato bread," Gali said. She looked at Tahu, waiting for his reaction. Would he truly be angry?
 
After a moment, he looked at her and grinned. "Well, I hope you're willing to share."
 
++++++++
 
"Ready for a lunch break, Pohatu?" Onua called.
 
Pohatu did not reply. He was far too busy using his elemental abilities to nudge a stone in the wall to that it fit in perfectly with the stones around it. It had to be perfect, flush with every other piece...
 
"Pohatu!"
 
"Quiet," he murmured. "I've almost got it..." He kept his eyes trained on the stone above, willing it into place. His fingertips glowed with elemental energy as he reached out to the stone block, picturing where it should be, and pushing...
 
There! With the barest whisper of sound, the stone slid into the perfect place. One could hardly even tell that it wasn't part of a larger, single block.
 
Onua clapped slowly. "Well done, Toa of Perfectionism," he chuckled. "Now, if you're quite finished, I'm starving."
 
His concentration broken, Pohatu now noticed how hungry he was as well. "Sorry," he said, not truly sorry at all. "I was so wrapped in the work..."
 
"No time for explanations, only eating!" The Toa of Earth hurried him along to the lunch tent. This one had been specially constructed with longer than usual poles to accommodate the Toa's increased height. Under shelter from the sun, they found a table with bread, fruit, and meat on it. Simple fare, but nourishing nonetheless. Pohatu was rarely so grateful for food. He felt Ketar nudging against him. "Not for you," Pohatu said, holding away his piece of fruit. "We'll find something more suitable for you later." He turned to find Onua finished feeding a slab of meat to Terak, the creature's clawed paws stuffing his face. Well then... He idly tossed the fruit to Ketar, who snatched it out of the air. He seemed to chew slowly, savoring the taste, as if he knew this was a rare treat, an exception made out of mild guilt. Ketar didn't mind, for it was delicious.
 
"Can't wait for this business to be over," Onua mumbled, working on preparing himself some food. "All this working in the sun is a nightmare! I think perhaps there is a reason that we with black armor were meant to be underground..."
 
Pohatu hummed as he got his food. "Do you miss your Region?"
 
Onua gave him a curious look. "Well, of course. As I'm sure you miss yours."
 
"Do we really, though?" Pohatu sat next to the Toa of Earth. "We only lived in them for what, a month? A month and a half? And we were so busy dealing with skull spiders and raiders that we hardly had a chance to get to know the place. Can we truly become attached to them without spending time with them?"
 
Onua chewed and thought. "Perhaps," he mused, "it's not about whether we know them. It's more like... we're a part of them." When Pohatu said nothing, he continued. "I'm not sure if you feel the same, but when I was in the Region of Earth, I felt... at home. That's the only way I can think to describe it. It was the place where I belonged, the place of my element. Like you said, I didn't spend much time there, didn't really get to explore or anything. But I talked to the villagers. I talked to Korgot, our Protector. I fought beside them against the spiders. Those experiences... they mean something, Pohatu. I may not be as familiar with my Region as the natives, and it may not be a traditional care, but I do care. It became my home."
 
Pohatu nodded. "Lucky," he said. "In my Region... I don't know what it was, but it never really felt like home. What was different...?"
 
Onua leaned towards his brother. "Pohatu," he said. "You and I are not the same. You are allowed to have different experiences than I have had."
 
"But I wish that I felt as you did," said the Toa of Stone. "You say you miss the Region of Earth. You have a passion for it, to return and save it from the shadow. But me... If I'm totally honest, I don't feel that way for the Region of Stone. Not beyond the obligatory sense of it. I feel like if I could just have had more time there, maybe it could've been home."
 
Onua patted his shoulder. "That time will come, brother. When all this business with Makuta is finished, we can return to our Regions and settle in. You can explore, play, build, do everything you want to in your Region. It is of your element. Surely you will hear its call eventually."
 
Pohatu picked up and eyed a fruit from his plate. "You know, I recognize this one. An utuyote. Native to the Stone Region, grows underground for some reason..."
 
Onua punched him in the shoulder. "We'll get a love for your Region out of you yet."
 
Pohatu grinned, split the fruit, and gave half of it to Ketar (who practically danced around with joy at his second helping).
 
"You're going to spoil him if you keep tha--" Onua stopped as he was nudged by Terak. The creature looked expectant. Onua sighed. "Now look what you've made me do." The Toa of earth tossed another bit of meat down to Terak. "I'm tempted to give that wall an earthquake and nudge your little stone out of place again."
 
Pohatu laughed and hoped that he was joking.
 
++++++++
 
Narmoto closed the door to Ekimu's forge gently as he stepped inside. Had he not been as acclimatized to heat as he was, he might have found the place unbearable. The Mask Maker appeared hard at work, but he could not put this off any longer. "Ekimu," he called.
 
The Mask Maker turned to face him. "Ah, Narmoto!" he said. "Just in time. Come, help me with this. Crank that handle there. Yes, a bit more... stop! Did it get too hot...? No no, it's perfect. Aha!" Using long grabbers, he pulled a glowing hot mask from the forge. "A fine Mask of Strength this shall be. Quite popular in Derakan, I am told."
 
"Ekimu," Narmoto said again, tone hardening. "We need to talk."
 
Ekimu hesitated before setting aside the new Mask. "Of course," he said. "What is the matter?"
 
"You have not told the Toa everything," the Protector of Fire said. "Regarding their destiny."
 
Ekimu sighed. "It is better that they don't know for now. When the time comes, all will be revealed, I assure you."
 
"You would let them continue living a lie? Even now, the Toa discuss what life will be like for them when this is finished. And surely we are close to the end now. When will you tell them that nothing awaits them at journey's end?"
 
"We don't know that," Ekimu snapped. "Perhaps the line about the stars is... metaphorical."
 
"Even so," Narmoto said, "the Toa have done much for us. They deserve the truth. It is the least we can offer them."
 
Ekimu eyes hardened. "You want them to know the truth?" he said. "Go on. Go out and tell them. Tell Tahu that he won't be able to participate in the lava surfing competitions. Tell Pohatu he will never learn to carve. Tell Gali that she will never be able to explore the depths of the sea. Tell them all that the only thing that awaits them after they defeat Makuta is the cold blackness of space."
 
Narmoto said nothing.
 
"As I thought," Ekimu harumphed. "And who knows? If the Toa knew such things, they may lose heart."
 
"I think you underestimate their spirit," Narmoto said.
 
"I think it isn't worth the risk. I will wait to tell them until the outcome is decided regardless of their whether they know what is coming. That way, the prophecy will be fulfilled, Makuta will be defeated, and then Okoto will be safe again."
 
Narmoto harumphed and readjusted his cloak, making to head for the exit. "Wise you may be, Mask Maker, but I think that of honor, you still have much to learn."
 
"Honor will not save us, Narmoto," Ekimu called as the Protector of Fire opened the door. "You would trade the security of their success for such a simple thing as the truth?"
 
Narmoto gave the Mask Maker one last look. "In the blink of an eye." And he slammed the door shut.
 
------------------------------------------
 
Whew, I think I made it in time. This was fun to write. I've never done something quite like it, with not much in terms of plot, just a lot of dialogue. I hope it achieved the effect I was going for. And yes, this obviously diverges from the canon in that there is a large gap of time between when the Toa lose the Mask of Control to Umarak and when Umarak starts openly ransacking everything as in the latter half of JtO.  I liked the idea of the Toa having some downtime and this seemed like a good place to put it.
 
Anyways, let me know what you thought! I always love to hear from readers. And if you don't feel like commenting, just having read the story is enough for me. Thanks!
Edited by Kookie
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While as you say it does diverge from the canon a bit, it is quite the pleasant one. It is cool to imagine more of what the Toa might have thought when they had any time to themselves: the series makes it seem like they're always either on an adventure or doing something for the people of Okoto, unless they're just goofing off. I like how you zeroed in the ideas of how lonely it could potentially be for them to think that they're the only six of their kind, along with the idea of a larger world beyond Okoto.

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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'm a sucker for quiet character pieces and friends just going around doing friendship things, so this story did a lot for me.  In fact, I'd say that out of all the stories written for the contest, this is probably the best I've seen overall, as well as the one I enjoyed reading the most.  And I say that as a fellow entrant!  Well done.

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It is not for us to decide the fate of angels.

Dominus Temporis, if you're out there, hit me up through one of my contacts.  I've been hoping to get back in touch for a long time now.  (Don't worry, I'm not gonna beg you to bring back MLWTB or something.  :P )

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While as you say it does diverge from the canon a bit, it is quite the pleasant one. It is cool to imagine more of what the Toa might have thought when they had any time to themselves: the series makes it seem like they're always either on an adventure or doing something for the people of Okoto, unless they're just goofing off. I like how you zeroed in the ideas of how lonely it could potentially be for them to think that they're the only six of their kind, along with the idea of a larger world beyond Okoto.

 

Thank you so much for the comment!  I'm glad you enjoyed it.  It was definitely a lot of fun to explore the Toa emotionally in their downtime, and the loneliness was one that kind of came to me in the middle of writing.  Glad to see it worked!  And yeah, I've always liked the idea of other, fully developed nations outside of Okoto.  I figured that, given a long enough span of semi-peace, Okoto would be able to restart trade with such countries (who may have assumed everyone there was dead; they haven't heard from them in decades after all).  Anyway, glad you enjoyed the story.  Thanks for reading, and good luck in the contest!

 

I'm a sucker for quiet character pieces and friends just going around doing friendship things, so this story did a lot for me.  In fact, I'd say that out of all the stories written for the contest, this is probably the best I've seen overall, as well as the one I enjoyed reading the most.  And I say that as a fellow entrant!  Well done.

 

*chills* I'm very happy to hear that the story worked so well for you.  I remembered seeing a post somewhere (on Tumblr, I think) about how there should have been more quiet moments in G2.  I filed it away in my head, thinking I should try to write a story along those lines eventually, and this contest was the perfect opportunity. I haven't read your entry yet,  but I fully intend to.  I appreciate the vote, and I wish you luck in the contest!

Edited by Kookie

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