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The Herald of Darkness


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#1 Offline ZOMBI3S

ZOMBI3S
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Posted Mar 24 2012 - 07:14 PM

Author's Note: For a brief summary and description of the world that this story takes place in, as well as a linked Table of Contents, feel free to visit the Review Topic.

Thanks for reading!

 

 

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~Prologue~

 

It was a typical day in the city of Le-Koro. The sun was shining through the great canopy of leaves, and a slight breeze blew white fluffy clouds across the gentle sky. Matoran milled about the city streets, vendors hocked their products, farmers plowed the land, fishermen cast their lures into the jungle’s streams and rivers, and as Turaga Matau awoke, everything told him that it was going to be just another day in the city of trees.

 

But the Turaga knew better. Today, he was expecting an important package. One that was so special, no one else knew about its delivery except the other five Turaga and a handful of Matoran who were tasked to help with the ordeal. The Turaga lay in his bed, staring up at the oak ceiling of his home, lost in thought for a moment or two.Yes, he thought to himself, today was a very special day indeed.

 

It was a day of silent celebration, for it had finally been found. For years, the Turaga had searched in secret for his incoming package, and had experienced no successes until just a few days ago, when Turaga Whenua happened to come across it in the hands of a vendor. Realizing its importance, Whenua promptly bought the object and contacted the rest of the Turaga. The six had agreed that Le-Koro was the best place to hide it; for the eyes of Makuta were everywhere, but vision can be cut extremely short in the trees.

 

And so the Turaga of Le-Koro rose up from his bed and washed his Mahiki as he prepared for the oncoming day. He grabbed his favorite walking staff, shaped like a decorative buzz saw, and stepped out of his hut. This sunshine warmed his face as he gazed down at his city, and he smiled. The buildings rose up from the ground and from the trees, intertwining with the natural forest, yet still standing out. From the platform his hut sat upon, he looked down on the town center, a bustling square of merchants, vendors, and otherwise happy and busy Matoran. Climbing down to the ground level, he joined the people.

 

They called out his name and he smiled and waved back. He recognized many faces, but Le-Koro had grown much in recent years, so he didn’t know all of them. Casually, he walked to where a wagon was attached to two Mahi, which waited for him patiently at the edge of the square. Using his walking staff for balance, he climbed into the driver’s seat and took the reins.

 

“Turaga!” A young voice called out to him from somewhere in the crowd.

 

Matau looked around for the source of the voice, and smiled when he saw a little girl come running toward him and the wagon. “Well, well! How are you today, Talim?”

 

“Okay I guess," she said plainly, but then lit up with a polite, big smile. "How are you, Turaga?”

 

“I’m just fine," he bent down to talk to the girl. "Why are you only okay, little one? It is a beautiful day out. You should be great!” Talim was near to his heart, for she always found interesting things going on in the city, and always made sure that the Turaga went with her.

 

She held her hands behind her back and looked down at the ground. “The butcher won’t let me play in his kitchen…” she said sadly.

 

“Now, now, Talim,” he replied. “Don’t you think it’s a little dangerous to be playing there? The butcher uses many sharp knives. You could hurt yourself.”

 

“But it’s fun…” she drifted off, and her eyes lit up again with an idea. “Will you tell me the story of Takua and the Toa of light?” she asked.

 

“I’m sorry, I don’t have time for that right now,” Matau looked at her for a moment. “But, tell you what. Would you like to ride in this wagon with me? I’m going off into the forest!”

 

Talim grinned ear to ear. “Yes! I love the forest!”

 

The Turaga smiled. “Well come on up here!” He held out his hand to give the little girl a boost, and she happily bounced into the seat next to him.

 

“Let’s go! Let’s go!” she chanted excitedly. “To the forest!”

 

Matau smiled as he pulled on the Mahi’s reigns, and they started to move forward. They made their way through the city streets and into the outskirts, and all the while Talim went on about how she was a princess traveling through a magical land full of mystical and dangerous Rahi. Soon, the duo left the city behind them, and they were alone in the quiet woods of Le-Wahi. The trees towered over them, ancient, silent, and wise.

 

The Turaga soon reached his destination, a small clearing in the woods that the road ran straight through, and he motioned for the Mahi to stop. Quickly, Talim hopped out and began to play in the long grass.

 

“Now don’t go too far, there’s dangerous Rahi out here!” he called after her. She said nothing in reply, but instead skipped around, doing nothing but having fun. Matau smiled as he lay back in his chair and waited for his package to arrive.

 

He waited for the better part of an hour, watching the clouds slowly roll across the sky, and when Talim was tired of playing in the grass, she climbed back into the seat next to him. For a few minutes, they watched the clouds together, but the girl quickly fell asleep. Curled up on the seat and breathing softly, Talim didn’t hear the approach of another cart, for which Matau got up to greet.

 

The cart was about the same size as his, and was driven by three Ko-Matoran. It came towards Matau as he stood quietly in the tall grass on the side of the road. The Mahi pulling the cart slowed to a stop, and the three Matoran got out. The middle one wore an Akaku, and carried a plain iron box in his hands.

 

“Kokani,” the Turaga said calmly as he bowed to the Matoran holding the box. “I see you finally convinced the other Turaga to trust you.”

 

“You are correct,” Kokani said plainly. He held out the box to the Turaga. “Nuju sends his blessing, and may you stay out of the Makuta’s gaze.” He paused, his eyes flicking back and forth between the iron box and Matau, but then went on. “He also asks that I accompany you back to Le-Koro for the next few days, just in case anything should happen.”

 

“I send my thanks. And yes, that would be a good idea.”

 

He took the box that Kokani offered and stared at it quietly for a moment. Kokani took the top off for him, and Matau looked at a small black jewel, attached at one end to a decorative necklace. He gazed at the stone’s interior and thought about all that had happened in order for this moment to come. The stone sat in silence, almost as if it was staring back at him.

 

Matau shook his head, and the moment ended. He took the stone and fastened it around his neck. It quietly rested against his chest, and he looked back to Kokani.

 

“I suppose we should head back then.”

 

Kokani nodded. The two climbed into Matau’s wagon, and the other Ko-Matoran turned their kart around and started back the way they came, heading for Ko-Koro. Kokani looked into the passenger seat to find Talim, still curled up and fast asleep. He stared at the Turaga.

 

“You brought along a child?”

 

“She’s such a sweet girl,” Matau replied.

 

“Do you realize how dangerous this could turn out to be? What if Makuta knows we’re here?” he asked, almost as if he was scolding the Turaga.

 

Matau calmly put his hand on Kokani’s shoulder. “It’ll be fine. You shouldn’t worry so much.”

 

Kokani said nothing, and instead climbed into the back of the wagon. Matau pulled on the Mahi’s reigns, and the animals turned around, pulling the wagon with them. Slowly, they made their way back to the city.

 

By the time they made it back to the Turaga’s home, it was a bit past midday. Talim, now awake, hopped out of the cart, waved goodbye to the Turaga and her new-found friend, Kokani. Merrily, she skipped through Le-Koro’s busy square until she was out of sight. Matau and Kokani climbed up to the platform of the Turaga’s house, and the Turaga brought out cold drinks for the two of them. They sat on the edge of the platform without incident, and watched the people of Le-Koro go about their business below.

 

“It’s strange how things worked out,” Kokani stated. Matau said nothing, and so he went on. “We’ve gone after every possible rumor, followed dangerous Rahi all around the island, searched the camps of Kryll, and lost so many Matoran along the way. And then, all of a sudden, Turaga Whenua just finds the Atouri in the hands of an everyday vendor. Just by chance.”

 

Matau took a drink from his cup and gazed at the sun, slowly creeping its way toward the horizon. “Life is strange, Kokani,” he finally said.

 

The two sat there for the better part of what remained of the day, talking about events that had happened since their last encounter, and catching up on everything they had missed in each other's lives. The sun slowly descended toward the treetops, and soon the two beings found themselves bathed in the pink-orange light of sunset. The business below them started to slow as shops began to close for the night.

 

After all, to the Matoran it was just a typical day in the City of Trees. They didn’t know that an ancient and powerful artifact had entered their home, nor did they know why. Only Matau and Kokani spoke of the dangers of Makuta, for everyone else only knew of such a power in legends and stories. And as the last of the shops closed their doors and the sun sank below the trees, Matau and Kokani got up from where they sat to turn in for the night.

 

But the unique events of this ordinary day were not yet over, and Matau turned around as he heard the soft sound of light feet coming toward him. Looking over the edge of his platform, Talim came running towards his hut. This wasn’t her playful run, however. The little girl ran with purpose, and so he quickly climbed down to meet her on the ground.

 

“Turaga!” she cried out. “Come quick!”

 

“What’s wrong Talim?”

 

Talim slid to a halt and grabbed the Turaga’s hand, pulling him so he would move faster. “Just come!”

 

Kokani looked down at them, and Matau called up. “I’ll be back, Kokani. Don't worry, I'm sure everything’s fine.”

 

Matau followed Talim through the winding city streets, all the way past the outskirts, until the last of the houses disappeared, and they were surrounded only by trees and darkness. Talim led the Turaga through a bramble patch, and a glowing yellow light appeared in front of them. Urging him to move faster, Talim pulled him through more underbrush until they found themselves in a small clearing.

 

“Look! Look what I found!” Talim said excitedly.

 

Matau's eyes widened. There, in front of him, sat a Matoran. He held Talim’s lightstone, and the yellow light reflected off of his black Pakari. He looked extremely confused, and looked up at the Turaga with big, bright green eyes. From the looks of him, he was about Talim’s age.

 

“Oh my,” Matau said, approaching the confused Matoran. “What’s your name, little one?”

 

The Matoran shied away from him.

 

“Come now, don’t be afraid,” he said, offering out his hand. “What’s your name?”

 

“I…I don’t know,” the Matoran stuttered.

 

The Turaga eyed him up and down. From the looks of him, he was a Le-Matoran. “Well,” he said. “You must have a name if you are to come back with us to Le-Koro.”

 

The nervous Matoran looked up at him, then at Talim. “I don’t know my name,” he said quietly.

 

Matau frowned. This was strange indeed. “Hmm…” He thought about what he should do with the Matoran. He was obviously too young to be out in the forest alone this late in the day. Perhaps he had run away from home, and in the process fell and hit his head, affecting his memory. He had to do something. After a few minutes of thought, he decided he would take the Matoran back with him, and he would take care of him, at least until they could find his family. “But what shall we call you…?” he pondered out loud.

 

Talim tugged on his hand, begging for his attention. Matau leaned down to hear what she had to say. With both hands around her mouth, she whispered into his ear. He smiled and stood back up.

 

“Alright, that’s fitting enough,” he said. “It probably won’t stick, but for now we will call you Takua, in honor of the Toa of Light.”

 

Takua sat on the ground, holding the lightstone. Turaga Matau offered his hand once again, and nervously he took it.

 

“Come now, little one,” Matau said. “Let’s take you home.”


Edited by ZOMBI3S, Mar 15 2017 - 08:04 AM.

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#2 Offline ZOMBI3S

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Posted Mar 25 2012 - 08:00 PM

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Chapter 1 - The Spring Solstice

 

 

Squaaaak!

 

Takua lay in his bed and groaned. “Too early…” he mumbled as he reached over and smacked the glass pane of his window. It opened with a slight creak, and he stuck his head out for a moment. Drops of rain hit his face.

 

“Shut up you stupid bird!” he yelled. The gukko sitting atop his roof squawked again, but ruffled its feathers and flew away.  Takua's head slumped back into his pillow as he grabbed the covers he had kicked back during the night.

 

It was a quiet, rainy morning in Le-Koro, and the small shack that Takua lived in was just enough to keep the wind and rain out his face. It sat at the base of a rather large tree on the outskirts of town, partially nestled under one of its great roots. It had one room, which was mostly filled with Takua’s bed, a sink, and rather old food containers stacked along the sides of the walls. A large welcome mat covered the entire floor, and one, single, grimy window was placed slightly above the side of the bed. The clock on his nightstand read nine in the morning, but if one would ask any passerby on the city's streets, they could easily learn that Takua was known for being a slacker, and that he had a tendency to sleep very, very late.

 

There was a loud knock at the door, and the almost-back-asleep Takua jolted upward, knocking his head on the low shelf above his bed.

 

"Mata Nui!" he cursed. The knocking at his door persisted. “Okay, I’m up,” he got off the bed, rubbing his forehead as he tried to focus his groggy eyes. “Who’s there?”

 

“It’s Jaka,” said the voice from behind the solid wood door. “Now let me in! It's wet out here.”

 

Still rubbing his head, Takua grabbed the doorknob and pulled, revealing his soaking wet friend. “Why so early?” Takua asked.

 

“You moron, it’s the spring solstice!” Jaka replied as he stepped inside, as if that explained everything. Takua’s blank stare led him to go on. “All you can eat for five widgets down at the Twisted Nail?”

 

“Mata Nui!” Takua jumped up and started to wash his Pakari in the sink. “Is Talim working?”

 

Jaka tapped his foot impatiently.  “Yeah, I think so. Does it matter? Hurry up or we're going to miss it!”

 

Takua grabbed some widgets off the floor and followed Jaka out, shutting the door behind him. They made their way to the town square, where everything important happened in Le-Koro. In its center there was a small fountain, and official buildings such as the town hall surrounded the outside of the square. The Twisted Nail tavern was a small, run down place on the corner. It was well in business, but the owner apparently had better things to spend his money on than fixing it up and making it look nice. The front door creaked as they opened it, and instantly the wet, pitter-patter of the rain was replaced with firelight and chatter from many people having their breakfast.

 

“Hey Talim!” Takua waved across the room at a young girl carrying a tray of food on her arm.

 

She looked up, her face brightening at the sight of him. “Takua!” she chimed as she set down the tray at a table and started to hand out dishes to hungry Matoran. Takua and Jaka walked up, and she turned her attention to them. “Got up early this morning did you?”

 

“I had to wake him up,” Jaka said. “Again."

 

"Aw," Talim smiled. "Where would he be without you, Jaka?" she replied, only half-joking.

 

"Still in bed, probably," Jaka was quick to retort. "And hungry! This is the only thing he can afford that gives him enough to eat.”

 

"Guys, I'm right here," Takua said as he crossed his arms and pointed at Jaka. “And I’ve got a job, which is more than you can say."

 

"That construction site Raipu runs?" Talim laughed. “Sure, but do you ever show up?” She smirked and turned around, heading back toward the tavern's kitchen. “Go find a seat, I’ll be right there,” she called out, already grabbing more plates, serving more hungry Matoran.

 

Takua and Jaka walked over to one of the only empty booths in the place, situated in the far corner, and sat down.

 

Jaka looked at Takua with one of ‘those’ looks.

 

“What?”

 

Jaka flicked his eyes back and forth between Takua and Talim.

 

“Oh, come on,” Takua replied.

 

“Don’t deny it. She had a pretty big smile on when you walked in.”

 

“We’re just friends.”

 

Jaka snorted.

 

Talim soon came over to their corner to take their orders, and they in turn requested a three course breakfast. All of it was eaten, and so another three courses were ordered. In the end, the cooks at the Twisted Nail grew rather frustrated from the loss of food, and Talim later had to scold Takua for hiding plates under the table so he could take them home for later meals. The scolding was defended by a simple ‘I’m poor, take pity.’ And a simple ‘Show up at work so you can get paid.’ followed, to which Takua was left silent.

 

Takua was a rather attractive Matoran, though not the strong and proud type one would expect. He was of average height and was thin, but not too thin. The mixed green and black colors of his body suggested his Le-Matoran with a mix of Onu-Matoran descent, though no one really knew his roots. His Pakari fitted him rather well, despite him having it his whole life. He carried himself with pride, and if a young female would see him on the street, they would think: Mata Nui, who is that Matoran? Oh yes, it’s Takua. And they would know in the end nothing good would come out of him and move on.

 

Jaka on the other hand was not quite as much of a trouble maker as Takua. He thought about other people more often, and therefore had less of an ego. He was slightly shorter and was a deeper green than Takua, and hints of amber suggested Ta-Matoran descent somewhere along the way, but it was unknown to him. He wore a Kakama, and if a young female would see Jaka on the street, they would think: Oh, It’s Jaka. Doesn’t he hang out with Takua?

 

After their hearty breakfast the two sat around and chatted with other Matoran at the Twisted Nail, until the door opened one last time before the five widget special ended. An old figure walked in, wearing a tunic and carrying a staff with a decorative saw on the end. Everyone knew him, for he was the great leader and Turaga of Le-Koro: Turaga Matau. He slowly shuffled his way to the small stage at one end of the tavern, smiling and waving to friends along the way. Stepping up to the platform, he pounded his staff on the wood floor three times. The entire room grew quiet, waiting for his speech.

 

He cleared his throat. “Citizens and friends of Le-Koro,” he announced, “I realize that I should have picked a more public spot if I wanted to talk to the entire population, but then again this always was my favorite restaurant.”

 

A short cheer erupted from the cooks and bartenders behind the main counter.

 

The Turaga smiled. “I come here today, to celebrate this spring solstice, and to wish you all another grand year. May the earth give you her fruit, may the sky give you her breath, and may the water give you her blessing.”

 

Another round of cheers went around the room.

 

“Also, I wish to honor someone here today.” His eyes met Takua’s from across the room, who instantly sank lower in the booth. But the Turaga went on. “I wish to recognize someone special. Although he can act unorthodox at times, and some may look down upon him, he is one that I personally hold dear.” He paused as he looked out across the room, and all eyes slowly followed his gaze, until the entire room's attention quietly rested on Takua, who seemed to be trying to melt into his seat. There were a few moments of silence as Takua refused to take the hint, until finally Matau sighed and went on. “Takua, will you please come up?”

 

Takua sighed and got up from his chair. Cheers erupted from a few people and he managed to crack an awkward smile, blushing behind his mask. He made his way through the tables and stepped up onto the stage as Matau put his arm around his shoulders.

 

"How did you know I would be here? You're so embarrassing." Takua whispered.

 

Matau whispered back. "I had Jaka bring you, of course. And stop being so shy, everyone is a friend here, you know that."

 

Takua shot a glance across the room at Jaka, who was grinning from ear to ear. "Ugh."

 

The Turaga continued with his speech. “As you may know, Takua was brought into my care when he was found in the woods by a little girl named Talim. In fact, I believe she is here today. Are you here Talim?”

 

She stood up and took a bow from the opposite end of the room. A few cheers came out for her.

 

“Ah, yes, there she is, now a beautiful young Matoran, of course.” He turned back to Takua. “Anyway, I adopted this young lad, and taught him the ways of the world, until he was old enough to go out on his own. He has grown into a fine Matoran, and I feel it is finally time for me to give him my blessing. Anything to say, Takua?”

 

Takua thought for a second, a little nervous. “Thanks.”

 

The crowd chuckled.

 

Matau smiled. “So be it. And so I give to my son a gift today, one that has been in my possession for a long time, after an old friend entrusted me to keep it safe.”

 

Matau pulled from his pocket a black jewel, cut so it had six long sides, which ended in a sharp point on the bottom and top. It was attached to a thin silver chain, which he unlatched. Knotted vines were etched into the metal where the stone met the chain.

 

The Turaga spoke to Takua. “The knots represent my blessing and love: the ties of family, even without blood relation. The chain represents strength: how you must now use it and protect those you care about, as is your duty. And finally, the stone represents eternity: even though I may leave this world, this stone will remain as a memory of me. Me and all of your friends, forever.”

 

Cheers erupted from all corners of the room. Even though Takua was considered somewhat of a misfit, he was still loved by all the commoners at the Twisted Nail. People began to bang on tables and throw their hats in the air, all in the name of Takua.

 

Takua looked at Matau. “Turaga, I don’t deserve this.”

 

“Go ahead, put it on,” Matau insisted, a big grin on his face.The silver chain passed into Takua’s hands. He let it slide through his fingers, feeling its smooth, cold texture. He placed the chain around his neck, and took the jewel in his hands. The cheers continued, and he couldn’t help but crack a smile.

 

He gazed at the black stone, faintly gleaming in the firelight. Slowly, he brushed his finger against it.

 

All sound faded from Takua’s head and everything seemed to be focusing on the stone, that cold, black, stone. He heard a heartbeat, followed by a dying whisper.

 

Thump-thp.

He’s here…

 

Takua blinked. There he was, standing with Turaga Matau in the Twisted Nail, everyone else cheering for him. What was that? He asked himself.

 

“Come!” Matau boomed over the noise. “Let us celebrate this wonderful equinox! Drinks are on me today!” Cheers grew even louder as he patted Takua on the back. “Go have fun with your friends, my boy. I’ll be around if you need me.”

 

Takua wiped the puzzled look from his face. “Thank you, Turaga.” He stepped off the platform and made his way through the tables and sat back down at his booth.


Edited by ZOMBI3S, Mar 12 2017 - 02:43 PM.

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#3 Offline ZOMBI3S

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Posted Apr 01 2012 - 08:03 PM

Chapter 2 - The Tale of Atouri

 

 

“Congrats,” Jaka pounded fists with Takua. “Matau’s blessing. I’m jealous.”

 

Takua smirked. “I bet you are.”

 

Talim came over carrying two massive tankards of some sort of brew. With a thump she placed them in front of the two friends. “Enjoy, boys. It’s on the Turaga.”

 

“Hey,” Takua grabbed her hand as she was turning away. “When do you get off?”

 

“Around six, why?”

 

“You think you might want to do something later?”

 

She looked at him for a moment. “I’d love to.” She smiled as she turned away and went back to work.

 

Jaka snorted. “Just friends, right?”

 

“Shut up.”

 

It wasn't unusual for the Twisted Nail to have bands and storytellers come in, but today was the solstice, and never once was there a period of time when someone wasn't on the stage. By the time Takua and Jaka had finished their drinks, an old Matoran was up on the stage, sitting on a stool and telling stories to a small crowd that had gathered around him. The Matoran had a lime green body and wore a Ruru. Everyone knew of him: he was the greatest storyteller in all of Le-Koro. But he was a loner, and a strange one at that. No one knew his real name, as he introduced himself as someone different every day.

 

Takua and Jaka were on their way to the door, when Takua noticed the Matoran and stopped.

 

"Come on man, storytellers are for kids," Jaka urged him.

 

Takua waved him off. "This guy's supposed to be the best in Le-Koro. Just one story." Jaka rolled his eyes and followed Takua to the crowd. They sat down next to a group of children who were eagerly waiting for the old one to begin. Takua felt someone poke him, and he looked at the small boy who sat next to him.

 

“Aren’t you too old for stories?” The boy asked.

 

Takua shot him a glare. “Don’t judge me.”

 

The old Matoran spoke up. "Now, I shall tell you a story not very well known among Matoran." His voice was raspy and harsh, but was still loud enough to keep everyone's attention. "It is a sad story, but one that bears great importance among the ancient tales. It is a story of Mata Nui and Makuta, and the many events that occurred because of one small girl."

 

He paused and made eye contact with Takua, who broke it after a few uncomfortable seconds. The Storyteller began his tale.

 

 

"In the time before time, there was a beautiful young Matoran named Atouri. She was more beautiful than any other Matoran. Her smile made the sun come out, and her voice made the birds sing. Every day she would go down to the water, where there was an island just offshore with a beautiful jewel on it. She wished she could have the treasure, but dared not to swim across the water, as the currents were strong and she would surely drown. One day, as she was looking at the jewel, a snake slithered up beside her.

 

'I will show you the way through the water, as I have crossed it many times,' the snake said.

 

Atouri agreed, and followed the snake out into the water. But the snake was really Makuta in disguise, and Atouri could not keep up with him. The currents caught her, and she drowned.

 

Mata Nui confronted his brother about the issue.

 

'Why have you done this, my brother? Why did you trick Atouri?'

 

'I could not help it,' Makuta answered. 'It is my nature.'

 

Mata Nui was saddened, as Atouri was very beautiful, and her loss was a great one. He turned the water salty, as punishment for drowning Atouri. But that was not enough. So he bestowed his power on the jewel, and named it the Atouri, so the Matoran's legacy would go on. Anyone who held the jewel would see the true beauty of the world, and would always be happy.

 

'But you must not touch the jewel, my brother.' Mata Nui told Makuta. 'That is your punishment. Never will you see true beauty, and never will you be happy.'

 

Makuta was angered, even enraged that his brother would curse him for his very nature. He stole the jewel, but it did not give him happiness. Nothing gave him happiness. So Makuta poured all his anger and malice into it, until its color turned to black, and its shine faded until it became a lesser stone. He poured his very heart into the stone, so Mata Nui would know what he had caused.

 

But Makuta had not thought his plan through. Mata Nui had tricked Makuta, so that whoever now held the jewel, also held Makuta's heart, and if the jewel was ever destroyed, Makuta would be also.

 

Naturally, Makuta placed spells over the stone so that it could only be destroyed by beings of light more powerful than himself. In a world of lesser beings, Makuta realized he now had nothing to fear, and he began to use the stone as a strength. He placed the Atouri among the Matoran, and began to infect their hearts and minds from within their own villages. Makuta spread his darkness all over the earth from within his heart, until he was confronted by his brother.

 

'You have ruined Atouri's legacy with your darkness, brother. This is not what I wanted for her.'

 

Makuta sneered at his brother, for his eyes had been clouded by his own darkness, and he could no longer see the truth. 'You have caused this, for it is you who condemned me to my fate.'

 

Wordless, Mata Nui took the stone and cast it away, forever hiding it from him. Makuta was greatly weakened by the act, for he was now more a part of the Atouri than he was himself.

 

Makuta raged violently, and swore that if he ever found the stone again he would release his wrath upon the world, so much that not even Mata Nui would survive. He struck at everything around him until he was exhausted, for this was the first pain he had ever felt. He felt hollow. He felt like dying, but death would never come. He cried out to his brother one last time.

 

'You would choose to save the Matoran at the cost of your own brother?'

 

Mata Nui called back, 'I could not help it, it is my nature.'"

 

 

Everyone applauded. The Storyteller bowed, and once again glanced at Takua before gathering up his things.

 

Why does he always look at me? Takua thought.

 

"Can we go now?" Jaka asked.

 

"Yes, we can. That wasn't so bad, now was it?"

 

"Whatever."

 

It was the afternoon, and as Takua and Jaka headed for the door, it opened in front of them. In stepped Raipu, a somewhat distant friend of theirs. He was a Po-Matoran whose tan Hau demanded authority, even though he was only a few years older than Takua. He spent the spring and summer in Le-Koro as a construction manager, and traveled north to see Po-Koro in the fall and winter.

 

“You were supposed to work today, Takua.” he said.

 

Takua looked up at him. “Uh...really?”

 

“Yes,” Raipu scolded. “I can’t keep doing this, Takua. This is you’re last warning.”

 

“Oh, shoot, look at the time!” said Takua looking over at the clock on the wall. “I’ve got to go, Raipu, happy solstice!” He ran off, leaving Jaka wondering what just happened.

 

The rain had stopped, and the two spent the rest of the day walking around town, watching shows dedicated to the solstice and taking advantage of free food. As the afternoon waned, people had started to gather in the town square for the annual shows and parades that would start later that night.The two friends picked out a good place to sit on a ledge above the door to a bakery. It was rather comfortable. They could see over everyone on the ground, and as long as it didn’t collapse, everything would be fine. The clock tower boomed from the corner of the square. Six times it rang, letting everyone know that the festivities would soon start.

 

The booms triggered something in Takua’s mind he had forgotten. Talim! She gets off at six! He jumped down to the cobblestone below him.

 

“Where are you going?” Jaka asked. “You’re going to be late for everything.”

 

“I was supposed to meet Talim! I might be back, might not!” He ran off into the crowd of Matoran.

 

Jaka sighed to himself. “What am I going to do with him?”


Edited by ZOMBI3S, Feb 14 2017 - 11:53 PM.

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#4 Offline ZOMBI3S

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Posted Apr 08 2012 - 06:51 PM

Chapter 3 - Learning of the Stars

 

 

Takua walked among the tall grass in silence, admiring the scenery. He’d seen it many times, but couldn’t help but think about how beautiful it was. Under the setting sun the long stalks shone golden, and the gray stones that peppered the area glimmered in the light. To his left there was a decent-sized cliff, dropping down to where the jungle grew below. Birds and wild Rahi called to each other in the trees.

 

Talim lived in the outskirts, as she preferred the call of wildlife to the call of vendors. He was looking at the pink, orange, and light blue sky when he first saw Talim’s house. Unlike Takua, she took pride in her work, and therefore had the money to spend on things she wanted. So instead of living in shacks like Takua and Jaka, she owned decent sized home built partially into the hillside. Its wooden walls and thatched roof let it stand out in the peaceful landscape, but not so much as to make it a target of any Rahi attack. Takua walked up and knocked on the door.

 

Talim opened it and smiled. “You’re late.” Her beautiful dark green Huna glinted in the sunlight.

 

“Well, I had nothing better to do, so I figured I'd show,” Takua joked.

 

“Right,” she rolled her eyes, but smiled. “Well come on; get in here before it gets dark.” Takua stepped through the door and into Talim’s well-furnished living room. “Have you eaten yet?” she asked, walking toward the kitchen.

 

Takua shook his head. “A bit, but I can always eat.”

 

“Good, because I made fikou stew.”

 

She poured two bowls and they sat in the kitchen and ate. Takua told her about all the ridiculous things he had gotten into in the past week, and she listened intently, laughing as she tried to eat. The evening wore on, and they continued enjoying each other’s company until the stars lit up the sky.

 

“…so yeah. That’s why you should never try to wrestle a Takea shark.”

 

Talim coughed, almost spewing a mouthful of stew all over the table. She swallowed it and burst out laughing.

 

“Well, thanks for letting me know you care about my well-being,” Takua said sarcastically.

 

“I don’t know if anyone’s ever told you this, but you’re a moron,” she said, still trying to calm down.

 

The boom of distant fireworks sounded through the open window, and Takua jumped up. “The fireworks!” He said as he grabbed Talim’s hand, forcing her out of her seat. “Come on we can’t miss these!” They ran outside.

 

The night sky lit up with a huge flash of red, which sparkled away just in time to allow another explosion of color. The two stared in awe, the bright flashes imprinted in their minds. They watched for a long time, standing in the swaying grass as the jungle below them lit up with reds, blues, and greens. Then there was a pause in the flashes, and the night crept in as they waited for more. Nothing moved but the wind, and they watched the sky for a moment, wondering if the show was over.

 

Suddenly there were many colors at once, exploding in a great finale of sparkling flames. Different types of fireworks went off, from huge spiders, to crackling rockets, to great flashes. Each one was different, and never was there a pause where the darkness crept in. Explosion after explosion awed the couple, who watched it all with glimmering eyes.

 

The finale ended, leaving the night quiet and peaceful as before. An onlooker wouldn’t even know what had happened if it weren’t for the wisps of smoke rising from the trees. Talim and Takua continued to look out over the jungle, still in awe of the colorful lights.

 

“What are you doing here, Takua?” Talim asked, breaking the silence.

 

“Huh?”

 

“You weren’t meant for a life here. You should be traveling the island, having your own adventures,” She paused, looking out at the trailing wisps of smoke. Her voice seemed...a bit sad. “I know you want something more out of life.”

 

Takua had always known, deep down, that this was true. He wanted to go visit new places, meet new people, and explore the world on his own. But on the other hand, he had never seriously thought about going. He'd never actually made any plans to leave Le-Koro. “Well, I’m happy here. Why would I leave?”

 

“I just…” Talim stopped for a second, thinking of what to say. “I don’t want to keep you from your dreams.”

 

“My dreams are wherever you are, Talim.” The words slipped out of Takua’s mouth before he even realized what he was saying. He bit his tongue right after speaking. That was so lame. So corny.

 

But Talim didn’t make fun of him. Instead she smiled and looked down at the ground, a hint of blush showing from under her mask. “Okay,” she answered, almost in a whisper. “You should come over more often. I had fun.”

 

“Anytime,” Takua said, still embarrassed from what he had said. Trying to make up for himself, he bent down and picked a small orange flower from the grasses and handed it to her. “For you.”

 

She blushed again and placed it behind her ear. “Aw, how does it look?”

 

“Like garbage.”

 

Talim rolled her eyes and gave him a playful shove before turning around and walking back to her house. “You’re terrible. I’m going to bed.”

 

“I’m just playing. It looks nice.”

 

“Of course it does. It’s me.”

 

There was a pause in their conversation. Talim stood in her open doorway, her eyes meeting Takua's. They stood there, silent as the seconds ticked by, looking at each other.

 

“Well, good night,” Takua said quietly.

 

“Good night, Takua.” Talim slowly shut the door, its hinges creaking until the doorknob clicked shut, leaving him alone in the night.

 

And Takua began his way home. He thought of her as he walked. Eventually his thoughts drifted to how they met. His first memory was of her, in fact. Talim was the one who found him lying in that jungle clearing, unconscious. He didn’t know anything about himself, not even a name, so Talim had named him Takua, after the great Toa of light in the old days.

 

Takua smirked to himself, as if he’d ever do anything like the Toa did.

 

Come to think of it, Takua’s sudden appearance in Le-Koro was strange, and no one could explain it. But then again, eventually all things are forgotten and Takua was accepted into the village like anyone else. He spent his first days in the Turaga’s house, where he learned about everything on Mata Nui. Days turned to months, then to years, and as soon as he was old enough, Takua set out to find his own way in the world.

 

And now he lived in his very own shack. Good times.

 

The path Takua walked was frequented by merchants and travelers, often coming in from small, remote villages farther out in the jungle, so it wasn't too far-fetched that he wouldn't be be the only one using it that night. But still, an unexpected sound began to make its way towards his ears.

 

Bum de dum, doo doo dee,

Everything, he does see

 

The singing brought Takua back to the real world. He looked up to see an old Matoran walking along the path toward him. He was dark yellow, and carried a knotted walking staff.

 

Over the great ocean blue,

Mata Nui Watches you.

 

Takua passed the old one, who promptly turned around and followed him by a little more than two steps, all the while continuing to sing. Takua sped up his pace, a bit annoyed, but the Matoran also sped up, and the cycle continued until Takua was almost running. The old one, surprisingly, kept up.

 

Finally, Takua stopped and turned around, causing the Matoran to bump into him. “Can I help you?” he asked, suppressing his annoyance.

 

The Matoran’s Hau cracked into a smile. “Ah, can I quick-help you?” He talked in tree-speak, a dialect only used nowadays by those who lived far, far out in the jungle.

 

“No, you can’t help me. I just want to walk home in peace.” Takua said.

 

“Wrong answer!” The old Matoran rapped Takua on the head with his staff.

 

“Ow!” Takua yelped. “Who are you?”

 

“Who are you, windsprinter?”

 

“I’m Takua, what do you want?” he said, his patience waning.

 

The old one’s eyes widened and he started to laugh. “Woo woo, ha ha! Takua! Hee hee hee!” Suddenly he stopped and his face was serious. “You need help youngling!” He poked Takua in the chest multiple times to emphasize his point.

 

Takua sighed. If this geezer wouldn’t go away he might as well play the game. “Okay, where can I find help?”

 

The old man whirled around and put his arm on Takua’s shoulder, motioning to the sky with his other hand. “Look to the stars!” He spread his palm out and moved it across the night sky, as if washing an invisible window. The red star shone out among the other points of light, in the east.

 

They were quiet for a minute or two, until Takua broke it. “So, what am I looking for?”

 

“The stars!”

 

They stared for a few more minutes, until Takua broke the silence again. “Yeah, I’m not seeing anything.”

 

“That is because you are not looking, baldwalker!” He rapped Takua on the head once more.

 

“Would you stop it!?” Takua snapped.

 

“Will you stop it!?”

 

“Don’t copy me.”

 

“Who?”

 

“You!”

 

“Shh! Listen!” The old one whispered. “The quiet share-gives advice!”

 

Takua had had enough of this. The Matoran was clearly insane. “That’s very nice. I hope you have a good night.”

 

He turned to walk away, but felt a hand on his shoulder, as if asking him to listen to one last crazy statement. Sighing, Takua turned to look at the Matoran once more. Deep blue eyes stared through the Hau at Takua. Gone was the crazy and spontaneous feel, replaced with the eyes of an old being: thoughtful and wise. They stared intently, as if searching inside Takua for an unknown treasure; an unknown jewel hidden the body of the young Le-matoran. Finally the old one’s mouth opened to speak.

 

“The stars will guide you.”

 

Takua nodded, and turned to walk away. He felt the hand slip off his shoulder and he knew that he wasn’t being followed. Glancing one last look, he saw the old one standing where he'd left him, staring up into the night sky. Takua smiled to himself. What a loon!

 

The song started up again and gave the night a quiet hum. As Takua walked, the song faded, until he could barely hear it. It shriveled to a soft whisper, and Takua’s ears strained to hear the last few lines before the night gave way to silence:

 

Wake up and taste the morning dew,

Feel his nectar, surging through.

Bum de dum da dee dee doo,

The wonders of life, he gives to you.


Edited by ZOMBI3S, Mar 04 2017 - 06:55 PM.

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#5 Offline ZOMBI3S

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Posted Apr 11 2012 - 02:07 PM

Chapter 4 - Approaching Shadows

 

 

Turaga Matau looked up at the trees, towering above him as he would a firefly. The slight breeze rustled the long grass beneath his feet, the Le-Ko trade route running just beside him. The road cut its way through a small hill, leaving walls of dirt on one side that rose up into the rest of the natural landscape. The Turaga watched and listened, as he was expecting company.

 

He heard the laughing of children, which was a good sign. The children who lived out here on the farms loved to chase trade wagons and whatever else may be moving along the route. The noise grew closer, and soon he saw a cart pulled by two mahi appear through the foliage. The little Matoran ran alongside it, asking the driver questions about his adventures outside Le-Koro. It was a simple, happy sight.

 

The cart drew nearer to him, and the driver looked up from under his grey hood. An off-white Akaku looked at Matau. “Hail, Turaga.”

 

Upon seeing the Turaga the children ran off in separate ways, afraid he might tell their parents of their bothering. Matau smiled and gave a slight bow to the traveler, who stopped his cart just beside the Turaga.

 

“Care for a ride, old friend?” he asked.

 

“I would love one,” Matau said as he pulled himself onto the bench next to the traveler. “My legs have gotten rather weary lately. I have some advice, Kokani: don’t ever get old.”

 

“I’ll try my best.”

 

“Very well,” Matau replied. “I see you decided to spend more than half a year up north. What held you?”

 

Kokani sighed. “I was getting to that, Turaga. Unfortunately, all is not well.”

 

Matau nodded his head in agreement. “Rahi have started attacking villages out in the jungle. I’m afraid they will only grow fiercer.”

 

“It’s not just Rahi,” Kokani said. “It’s the Kryll.”

 

“Kryll? A threat?”

 

Kokani started at Matau in disbelief. “Have you not heard the stories?”

 

Matau shook his head. “I’m beginning to feel we are being isolated from the rest of the villages. Trade caravans barely stop in anymore, and when they do the traders are stone-faced and shady. What have they been up to?”

 

“Well,” Kokani said, “You know how they’ve always been: quiet, skittish, primitive. Always shying away from Matoran villages. But recently, all along the northern shores, travelers have come back to the Koro with tales of being attacked and left for dead in the wild. I’ve even heard a village west of Ga-Koro was burnt to the ground.” He shook his head. “If it keeps up they’ll become a threat to all the major cities.”

 

Matau looked up at the sky, or at least, what little sky was visible through the leaves. “Dark times are creeping upon us. I’ve been feeling it in my bones for a long time now.”

 

Kokani wrapped his cloak tighter and looked around them. Only the leaves moved as a slight breeze pushed past them. Everything seemed to grow quiet, as if the entire jungle wanted to hear what the Ko-Matoran was about to say. “Nuju has locked himself in his study. From what he sees so far, things will get much worse.”

 

“Speak.”

 

“Matoran, and even some Kryll in the east have appeared on our shores and docks. They stay for a couple days, only to move again, as if they are running from something. A power is making itself known to this world that has been believed dead for an age: a shadow has been cast.”

 

Matau gripped his staff until his knuckles turned white. “It is as we feared.”

 

Kokani agreed, “Some Matoran sense it, the Turaga’s spies have seen it. His symbol marks the charred trees of the Eastern Continent. He takes refuge there, and some even say the Kryll of that land have pledged themselves to him. They are a formidable enemy; I have seen their towers, cities and fortresses. Do you still have the stone?”

 

“I have given it to my son. It will be safe with him.”

 

“Good,” Kokani replied. “Makuta will want it back.”

 

 

~~~

 

 

Takua awoke just before noon. He had slept rather late, even for him, and felt as if he had already wasted his day. Eager to get his life started, he sat up in bed, promptly knocking his head on the shelf above him. "Mata Nui!" he cried out, followed by a rather long stream of curses. Holding his forehead, he got off his bed and began his daily routine by washing his Pakari in the sink. Looking up at himself in the mirror, he noticed some paper shoved through his mail slot.

 

Wow! He thought. I never get mail!

 

He bent down and picked them up. There were two letters. Two! He sat on his bed and began to open the first one. He sighed as he recognized the Builder's Union symbol on the front of the envelope. Which meant Raipu. Which meant work. Quickly glancing over the piece of parchment, he read something about Raipu having to drop him because of his poor attendance, and something about him having to come to work at least once within the next three days in order to claim his final paycheck. Being informed of his termination probably should've worried him more than it actually did. He tossed the letter on the ground.

 

The second one was from Jaka. That was strange, if Jaka wanted to tell him something, he usually just woke him up. Opening it, his care-free mood from the previous letter faded away.

 

 

Takua-

Come to the town square. I would've woken you but I didn't have time. There's something wrong. As soon as you're up, get over here. Hurry.

 

Jaka

 

 

Finished reading the letter, Takua opened his door and went out.

 

He briskly jogged toward inner Le-Koro. Being around midday, he took all the back alleyways to avoid traffic. He weaved in and out of the tall buildings and trees with speed, for he knew them like the back of his hand. This time of day almost no one was on these streets, and the lack of people allowed an eerie silence to creep in and settle behind every corner. Takua thought about this. Usually there were calls of birds and other animals, but today it seemed as though all wildlife had left Le-Koro. He turned a corner and somehow managed to trip over his own feet, landing with a thud on the hard-packed dirt.

 

“Ouch,” he mumbled, cursing himself for his own stupidity. He brushed his armor off as he got back up, and was startled to see someone standing in front of him. Where had he come from?

 

The figure was taller than a Matoran and wore black armor, like one from Onu-Wahi. A mask like a serpent's head rested upon the being’s face, one that Takua had never seen before. Then, with a quick, aggressive step, the being moved forward, grabbed Takua’s arm and looked into his eyes.

 

“Can you feel his return?”

 

The voice reverberated in Takua’s head and chilled him to the bone. Takua fidgeted at his touch, but met the being's gaze with alarmed confusion. “...what?”

 

The figure let go of Takua’s arm. There was a rustle of his black cloak and...he was gone.

 

Takua blinked and looked around, unsure what had just happened.

 

“...hello?” he said slowly, but no one answered. “Hello!?” he called out once more, this time louder, but again there was no reply, save for his echo. He was alone in the hollow, dusty alley. He took a moment, half convinced that he had made up the figure in his head before he started moving again. “Takua, there’s something wrong with you,” he told himself as he started to jog again, a little unnerved.

 

As he moved closer to the inner city, more and more people went about their daily business. The quiet broken down buildings of the alley were replaced with great works of architecture intertwined with massive trees. The road Takua walked on bustled with traffic now, as carts pulled by Rahi and hawking salesmen made their rounds. The chatter of the market increased as Takua moved into the town square. Looking around, he didn’t see anything that caught his eye, until he bumped into Jaka.

 

“Takua, over here,” Jaka said, his normally happy tone peppered with worry.

 

“Jaka!” Takua answered, surprised to have found him so quickly. “What’s going on?”

 

“You’d better come and see.”

 

Jaka led Takua around the crowds of people to the far corner of the square, where a giant oak rested. Motioning for him to follow, Jaka climbed a ladder and onto a platform built into the side of the tree. There were a few dozen Matoran clustered around something lying on the ground. Pushing their way through, Takua saw a rather disturbing scene.

 

There on the ground was a Matoran, shivering and shaking and muttering to himself. The poor thing looked barely alive. Most of his bright green body was covered with mud, and his mask was withered and grey. With a glance anyone could tell that the Matoran had been through something horrible. On the tree bark behind him there was a scribble in bold black paint:

 

RUN, ATOURI. HE IS COMING.

 

Takua swallowed hard. It was the Storyteller from the Twisted Nail.

 

“What happened?” he asked.

 

Jaka kneeled down and looked at the Matoran’s eyes. His pupils were dilated and they twitched back and forth. “No one knows. He was found just a little while ago. He could have been up here all night.”

 

“Out of the way, out of the way!” A voice shouted from the back of the crowd. The mass of bodies opened up and Turaga Matau stepped through, accompanied by Kokani and a Le-Matoran woman.

 

“I’m a healer; please step out of the way,” the woman asked Jaka, who respectfully stood back.

 

“What happened here?” the Turaga asked. He opened his arms, turning to address the crowd. “Does anyone know what happened here?” The crowd stopped their murmuring, but no one had an answer. “Does anyone know who this Matoran is?” he said, pointing at the frail creature.

 

Jaka spoke up. “He’s the Storyteller, Turaga.”

 

Matau snapped his head around to look at the fidgeting Matoran. Now he recognized him, and pain flooded his eyes. “No…” The moment only lasted a second, and then he was back to being the leader he was known to be. “Does anyone else have any information on this subject?”

 

“Turaga,” the healer spoke up. “Physically he’s fine. It’s just that his mask is losing color, and he won’t respond to anything. I’m afraid I don’t know what’s wrong with him.”

 

Matau cursed. “What’s he mumbling about?”

 

The healer leaned close to the Matoran, listening intently. After a moment she nervously made eye contact with Takua, but then turned to the Turaga. She opened her mouth to speak, but no sound came out.

 

“Well?” Matau asked again. Something about the situation worried him more than anyone else. It was apparent in his speech.

 

The healer glanced at Takua again. “He’s saying ‘Takua,’ over and over again.”


Edited by ZOMBI3S, Mar 04 2017 - 06:56 PM.

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#6 Offline ZOMBI3S

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Posted Apr 15 2012 - 06:43 PM

Chapter 5 - Unanswered Questions

 

Takua blinked. “What?”

 

Turaga Matau grabbed Takua by the shoulders and stared him down. “Listen to me Takua, I need you to tell the truth. Do you know anything about this?”

 

“What? No!” he blurted, scared that he might get framed into something. “I don’t know anything!”

 

“Are you sure?”

 

“Of course!”

 

Kokani knelt down and wiped the mud off the Matoran’s mask. Quickly he stood up and tapped the Turaga on the shoulder. “I've seen this before,” he whispered into Matau’s ear.

 

Matau slowly turned to Kokani, and the Ko-Matoran nodded, as if ensuring something. “Alright, everyone away!” Matau called out. “Go about your lives, we shall deal with this.” He turned away from the crowd to consult the findings with Kokani and the healer.

 

The crowd groaned, as they had obviously been hoping for some sort of information. One by one the people descended down the ladder, aided by members of Le-Koro's Gukko Force, whom had just recently appeared. After a few moments, Takua and Jaka found themselves among many important and powerful members of the city. Takua glanced over to his friend, feeling rather out of place.

 

With a wave of his hand, Matau ordered the healer and guards to give them space. Once everyone was out of earshot, he knelt down to take another look at the poor Matoran, still curled up in a ball on the ground, oblivious to everything around him.

 

Frantically he said, “What is this Kokani? Tell me.”

 

“No tell me!” Takua interrupted. He needed answers. “Why is he saying my name? I’ve never met this guy in my life let alone done anything to him. What do you know about this?”

 

Kokani held his ground, his face not giving up anything. Matau turned around too look at Takua, his aged face with a look of uncertainty upon it. Strangely, for the first time in his life, Takua realized that the Turaga was getting very old.

 

“I don’t know what to tell you, Takua,” he said. “I’m not quite sure what’s going on myself.”

 

Takua looked at Matau for a moment, troubled. Not knowing what else to say, he decided it was best for him to leave. He bade the Turaga a short farewell, and climbed down the ladder to the ground level.

 

“Hey!” Jaka quickly caught up with him. “Where are you going?” He asked.

 

“The docks. I need to think.”

 

The docks were far from the city center, and sat on the banks of an inlet of the sea. It was one of Takua’s favorite spots to go and think, and after the strange events of the day, he needed some peace and quiet. It took them a while to get there, but eventually they stood at the edge of the long wooden dock that stretched out into the water. Every once and a while a boat or canoe passed by, but other than that, it was quiet.

 

A rock stuck out of the water in front of them. It had writing on it, and Takua read it, as he always did when he came down here. It said:

 

 

Under the gaze of red, two shall dance.

 

Light and dark will meet, and the dance shall turn to dust.

 

The dust shall dance, and spirits shall fall,

 

and only one will remain.

 

The stars await his footsteps,

 

as they usher in an age.

 

An age of light, an age of dark,

 

an age of broken destiny.

 

 

 

No one knew how the writing came to be on the rock. It was probably just the scribbling from a maddened sailor, but Takua tried to make sense of it all the same. He’d even asked Turaga Matau about the inscription once, but he hadn’t known either. Takua and Jaka looked out at the water for a few moments, until Jaka spoke up.

 

“You okay?”

 

“Yeah,” Takua sighed, rubbing his temples. “I just don’t know what to think. This whole thing is creepy.”

 

“Do you know that Ko-Matoran Matau was with?”

 

“No, why?”

 

“I’ve seen him before,” Jaka said. “He comes to visit the Turaga every once and a while. He seems to know a lot about what’s going on with the rest of the island.”

 

Takua thought about it for a second. “What are you trying to say?”

 

“If you really want to find out what’s going on…” Jaka trailed off purposefully, leaving the rest of his sentence open to interpretation.

 

Takua looked over to his friend, realizing what he was suggesting, and smiled.

 

 

~~~

 

 

“How did he find us?” Matau asked.

 

“I’m not sure. But he knows the stone is here.”

 

“I figured that out. But how? We’ve set up so many precautions. And what was that back there? Is this some new disease of the Makuta? Why was he saying Takua’s name?”

 

“I don't know, maybe he knew Takua has the stone and was trying to warn him. This has happened before up north, once someone is attacked, their mind shuts down and only works to keep the body alive," Kokani said as they climbed the ladder up to the Turaga's house.

 

"But how? Why?" Matau followed. "The Wall of History has no information on this state, nor how to cure it."

 

"Such is the way of the Makuta. He lives to destroy."

 

The Turaga paced back and forth within his home. The walls were lined with shelves of books and scrolls, with large, comfortable furniture filling up the floor space. He led Kokani through a circular doorway into the kitchen. "His mask had started to rust. Could it be the Madness?" He asked Kokani as he pulled a kettle out of a drawer and started to make tea.

 

Kokani looked around the room. There was a cracked window above the counter that let a slight breeze in. Kokani eyed the window closely. "Some think so; however it's a lessened state. He's probably still too weak to control the Madness."

 

"Well then what can we do? Protodermis is very hard to come by these days—" He was cut short by Kokani's gaze.

 

Slowly, Kokani got up from his chair and walked toward the window. His feet were silent as he approached it. As he got closer, he slid the tip of his dagger out of its sheath. Matau kept quiet, realizing that Kokani knew someone was spying on them.

 

Kokani pushed the window open and stuck his head out, looking at the floor of the platform. He smiled. "Well, well, well, look what we have here." Reaching down, he grabbed something that yelped and yanked it into view of the window. Takua's head popped up. “Come here, boy,” he said as he promptly pulled Takua through the window. “We have things to talk about.”

 

Takua yelped again as he hit the stone floor of Matau’s kitchen. The necklace slipped off his neck and slid to a halt at the Turaga's feet. Matau picked it up and stared at the boy, displeased.

 

"Spying? On me of all people?" Matau said disapprovingly.

 

Takua hung his head. “Sorry.”

 

“You will be,” Kokani retorted. “What have you heard? Speak, or I’ll beat it out of you.”

 

“Now, now, there won’t be any need for violence, Kokani.” Matau interrupted. “Tell us Takua, what did you hear?”

 

“Nothing I swear! Just something about Madness, and I don’t even know what that is,” Takua said defensively. “I just want to know why the Storyteller was saying my name.”

 

Kokani turned to Matau, as if waiting to hear what he would say. The Turaga, in turn, looked back at Kokani. There were a few moments of silence in which Takua's question lingered in the air like a bubble waiting to pop. Matau opened his mouth to speak.

 

"Takua, I'm sorry, we just don't know yet. I promise we will tell you everything that we learn." He fingered the chain of Takua's stone in his hands as he spoke. "I can understand that you're worried, but we can't help you yet." He stared at the black stone. "There are..."

 

He trailed off as he stared at the black stone. That black stone that stood for eternity. Never dying eternity. The corners of his mouth slid into a scowl as he held the stone and looked back at Takua.

 

"There are things Kokani and I need to discuss," he finished.

 

Takua stared at Matau and Kokani. He trusted the Turaga, but he couldn't help think that there was something that they weren't telling him. He got up from the floor and looked at them again, analyzing anything that might give their solid faces away. Neither one of them showed anything.

 

"Okay," he said. "I believe you."

 

"Good. Now go home and get some rest. You look tired. Oh yes, you dropped this." Matau said, holding out the stone.

 

"Oh, thanks." Takua reached out for it and took the metal chain. In the back of his mind, something flickered.

 

Thump-thp.

 

Shaking himself, Takua pushed the thought out of his head. He said his goodbyes and left Matau's house, opening the door to the fading twilight. The pinkish-orange light lit up the square, now dwindling in population.

 

He sighed as he started climbing down the ladder. There was something wrong. He knew it. Matau was afraid, and the traveler he knew as Kokani seemed like he knew something. His feet left the bottom rung of the ladder and he jumped to the ground. His necklace thumped against his chest.

 

He looked at the silver chain and held it in his hand. He let his eyes fall upon the stone. It was almost as if it was waiting for something, like it had a mind of its own. It drew Takua's gaze, wanting attention, wanting Takua to treasure it forever. It wanted protection; it wanted to be home.

 

Takua blinked. "You need to stop messing with my head, okay?" he told the stone.

 

Its black shiny face stared back at him.

 

"Don't give me that look, stop it."

 

The stone sat in silence.

 

He sighed. "Takua, you're talking to a rock." Shaking his head at himself, he continued his walk home.


Edited by ZOMBI3S, Feb 14 2017 - 11:47 PM.

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#7 Offline ZOMBI3S

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Posted Apr 22 2012 - 06:07 PM

Chapter 6 - Visions

 

 

Takua looked around. Everywhere around him was the stench of death. He was in the middle of a ghost town, blackened, charred, and burning. Smoke rose from the scorched earth as he stood and looked around. Moving to the closest standing building, he peered into a hole that was once a window. The darkness revealed nothing. Moving to the door, he gave it a strong kick and it fell, exposing the inside to the red light that shrouded everything.

 

A child sat in the corner of the room. Beaten and bruised, tears fell down her face as Takua walked up. She curled up into a ball, exposing horrible burns all over her legs.

 

“What happened here?” Takua asked.

 

The child cried out as she sprung up from the ground and ran past Takua, disappearing into a doorway at the other end of the barren room. Confused, Takua cautiously followed, cocking his head sideways to peer through the opening. A long hallway stared back at him, burnt and smoldering, but the child was nowhere to be found. He walked into the hallway, coughing as the toxic air ripped at his lungs. His eyes began to tear, blurring his vision. He wiped them, looked back up, and suddenly there was a figure standing in front of him, staring into Takua's eyes.

 

“Isn’t it wonderful?” the figure asked.

 

Takua opened his mouth and tried to speak. He barely managed to choke out the words. “What happened to this place?”

 

“The destruction feeds him. It helps him grow strong.”

 

“Who are you?”

 

The figure disappeared, and Takua was left alone. Then, he felt a hand on his shoulder, and fear coursed through his body. Someone moved behind him, and he heard a voice whisper in his ear.

 

“My name is Saku.”

 

Brriiiing!

 

"Aah!" Takua screamed as he jolted up, smacking his head on the notorious shelf. "Mata Nui!" he cried out as he began to spout various colorful curses.

 

Holding his head, he swung his legs over the side of his bed and planted them on the floor. He smacked the top of his alarm clock, and finally, the horrible noise stopped. Sitting there, he gingerly caressed his forehead and wiped the sleep from his eyes. He'd forgotten why he had set the alarm.

 

Oh yes, he remembered. Work.

 

As he had arrived home last night he decided he would work his last day with Raipu so he could collect his paycheck. It was a horrible thing to do, waking up before six o'clock, but he really needed some cash. The nightmare still in the back of his mind, he performed his daily morning ritual. Grabbing the necklace off his nightstand, he slung the chain around his neck, and in less than ten minutes, he was out the door.

 

The sun was just below the horizon, although its rays wouldn't do much good, as it was a cloudy day. Making his way through town, Takua saw the very beginnings of the day's business, something he rarely saw. All of Le-Koro's early birds were up and about, buying breakfast and opening their shops. They all seemed so happy to be up before the sun, ready to start a new day.

 

Freaks. Takua thought to himself. He was still pretty groggy.

 

He turned onto a street that was, much to his delight, fully asleep. A single streetlight at the other end was the only source of light for the cobblestone road. Grumbling to himself about how no one should have to be up while streetlights were still needed, Takua looked up to see a figure standing underneath the far off yellow glow.

 

The figure watched Takua. It was tall, black, and it's mask: like a serpent.

 

"You!" Takua cried out, remembering it from the day before. "Hey!"

 

But the figure stared at him, not saying a word.

 

He ran toward the light, but as he got closer, the shadowy being backed away, disappearing out of sight entirely. Takua slid to a halt next to the streetlight, peering into the dark, looking for him.

 

"Come back!" he called out to the shadows. "What do you want from me? I have questions!"

 

Suddenly, he felt two cold hands place themselves on his shoulders from behind. Their touch froze him with fear.

 

“Do you remember me, Takua?” he heard, quiet, yet menacing, in his right ear.

 

Slowly, Takua turned his head to get a glimpse the being. “Who...who are you?” he stammered.

 

“It's me, Saku."

 

Takua froze, remembering his dream. As quietly as he had come, the figure once again disappeared into the shadows. He stood there, unsure of what to do. One thing was for sure, he didn’t want to leave the comfort of the streetlight. But he couldn’t stay here. Willing up his strength, he tore off through the black street. He sprinted as fast as he could through the dark abandoned streets as his fears flashed through his head. Was the being, this Saku, following him?

 

He ran until his lungs felt as though they would burst, but he willed himself to keep going. Finally he broke out of the sleepy alleyways and into the lightstones of the construction site. Slowing his mad dash, he collapsed on the ground by a pile of materials. He sat there, catching his breath, until someone approached him.

 

“Takua, are you okay?”

 

Takua looked up to see Raipu’s broad shoulders standing over him. The Po-Matoran offered his hand to Takua.

 

“Yeah. I am now,” he said between breaths. Taking a moment to calm down, he told Raipu about his unnerving encounter. The whole thing only took a minute, but at the end of his tale the Po-Matoran looked at him with raised eyebrows, and Takua got the feeling that he was being judged.

 

Raipu let out a hint of a smirk. “I didn’t take you for one to get intimidated so easily.”

 

Takua rolled his eyes. “I know, but,” he paused, trying to collect his thoughts. “There was something about him. He was really tall, blackish-grey, and had a mask like a snake’s head.”

 

Raipu pondered his words for a second. “I’ve never heard of a mask like that.”

 

They started walking to the table where Raipu kept all his building plans. “He asked me if I remembered him," Takua added.

 

Raipu handed Takua his punch card, humoring him. “Well, have you seen him before?”

 

“No, except for in a dream and yesterday. He came up to me and asked if I could feel ‘his’ return. Whoever ‘he’ is.” Takua replied, punching his card that indicated he had clocked in.

 

“Sounds like you just dazed off and had the same dream again." Raipu concluded. “Now get up there, you want your paycheck or not?”

 

Takua shook his head as he walked away. Was it just a dream? It certainly could have been. Dark shadows, mysterious appearances, things that don’t make sense: all of it was perfect dream material.

 

The sun finally poked its head through the clouds, illuminating the work site with a soft glow. Takua climbed the tower of scaffolding, dodging other workers and stepping over tools until he made it to the top level. There he found a pail of mortar and started to add stones to the unfinished wall in front of him. He worked in silence for a few minutes, until a Matoran a little older than him came over.

 

“I haven’t seen you here before,” the Matoran said. “Are you new?”

 

“Not really,” Takua answered. “I just never show up. This is going to be my last day.”

 

The Matoran laughed. “I understand. Usually I like this job; I get to listen to the calls of the morning animals out here. It’s really pretty here on the outskirts. There’s a lot more wildlife to listen to.”

 

Takua listened. All he heard were a couple of birds, chirping.

 

“Although, it seems like I’ve been hearing less and less over the past few days, the Matoran continued. “It’s almost as if all the animals are leaving.”

 

Takua went back to his work. “Another mystery in a land that’s filled with them.”

 

“When it’s not cloudy, I also like to watch the morning stars as I work,” the Matoran obviously wasn’t getting the hint that Takua wasn’t in a talkative mood. “Did you know that the stars can tell you the future? When the red star moves in the right place of a constellation, the event the constellation represents will happen.”

 

The stars will guide you, Takua thought. Maybe that’s what the crazy old man had meant.

 

Thump-thp.

 

Takua paused his work, looking down at the stone as it dangled around his neck. It hung there, as any piece of jewelry would. There was a moment of quiet, as the sound of the chirping birds left him, and the subtle heartbeat echoed in his ears. He narrowed his eyes, not sure if he had actually heard the sound, or if his mind was playing tricks on him. But he stared at the black, shiny stone nonetheless, suddenly feeling...uneasy? Suspicious? He wasn't really sure. 

 

Thump thp!

 

Takua felt a sudden pain in his chest. His ears cracked and rang, blotting out all other noise. He clutched his chest and cried out as the burning sensation spread, causing pain throughout his entire being. He tried to stand, only to find the whole world spinning around him. The blur he thought was the Matoran got up and tried to say something, but Takua couldn't hear what it was. All he knew was pain. Burning pain all over him. His vision blurred, and he fell backwards. The pain grew worse as he plummeted off the scaffolding toward the ground.

 

He approaches.

 

The voice was a silent whisper in Takua's screaming ears, but somehow he still heard it. The pain was unbearable, and nothing would make it stop.

 

He will come at you through steel, fire, and darkness, but you must not give in.

 

Takua writhed in the air as he felt his mind slipping away. He had to stay awake. He had to!

 

If you give in, the balance will never be restored.

 

Burning, burning, burning everywhere. His eyes closed. No! He forced them open. He had to stay awake!

 

Your time of choosing rapidly approaches.

 

He had to....he had to...

 

Your destiny rapidly approaches.

 

Takua shut his eyes and saw no more.


Edited by ZOMBI3S, Mar 01 2017 - 10:08 PM.

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#8 Offline ZOMBI3S

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Posted May 07 2012 - 01:11 PM

Chapter 7 - Just In Case

 

 

"Good morning you three!" Turaga Matau said cheerfully, nodding to Takua, Jaka, and Talim one at a time. "What can I do for you?"

 

Takua decided to not waste time. He held up the stone in front of him. It dangled by its chain, swaying back and forth. "What is this?" he asked.

 

The Turaga's smile faded. The lines in his mask became more pronounced, the bags under his eyes more noticeable. Suddenly the Turaga looked tired and sick. "Come inside," he held the door wide open.

 

They walked through the door into the warm firelight. Takua noticed Kokani in the corner, sitting on a chair and watching them intently. The blue eyes behind his Akakau followed their every move, like a hunter eyeing prey. Takua shuddered. The Matoran’s gaze unnerved him.

 

"Sit down," Matau said, motioning to the large chairs in his study. He took his own seat by the fireplace, next to Kokani. "Now, what can I do for you?"

 

"Why did you give this to me?" Takua asked. “Ever since I got it, I’ve been seeing things and hearing voices in my head, and there’s always this...” he paused, trying to explain it. “...this heartbeat.”

 

Matau closed his eyes, obviously deep in thought. After a few moments, he opened them and looked at Kokani.

 

"The boy deserves to know Turaga,” Kokani said, answering Matau’s unasked question.

 

Sighing, Matau turned back to Takua. “I gave it to you because I trust you. You must keep it safe, no matter what happens.”

 

Holding it up, Takua raised his voice. “This thing almost killed me today!” He remembered the intense pain, the voice, and his long plummet to the ground. Luckily, the Matoran he had been talking to made a scene of it, allowing Raipu and a few other workers to catch him with a tarp. Talim and Jaka came running as soon as they heard what had happened, and offered to come with him to see the Turaga. “Whatever it is, I don’t want it. Please, take it back.” Everyone else in the room sat in silence as he spoke, unsure of what to do or say.

 

The Turaga didn’t bother to look up from the floor. “I can’t,” he said sadly.

 

“Why not?” Takua spouted out.

 

“You don’t understand, Takua,” he sighed. “To hold the Atouri, or your necklace, is both a blessing and a curse. I fear age is finally catching up with me, and I am becoming too weak to wield it. You are to carry on in my footsteps, Takua.”

 

“What?” Takua shook his head. He remembered the story he had heard from the late Storyteller. “The Atouri?”

 

The door burst open behind them, causing Talim and Jaka to jump. A member of the Gukko Force stepped in, clad in full armor. He stood at attention. “Turaga!”

 

“What is it?” Matau answered.

 

“You are needed. We have a situation.”

 

Sighing, Matau got up from his chair. “I’m afraid it’s time for you three to leave. There are things I must attend to,” he said, quickly ushering the three young Matoran toward the door. “I will answer your questions at another time.”

 

“No, I want to know now!” Takua protested as he was pushed outside.

 

“Later, my friend.”

 

“When!?”

 

“When the time is right,” Matau said as he shut the door, leaving the three outside in the late morning.

 

Takua stood there, staring at the oak door. Every time he tried to get answers, something happened. He wanted to pound his fists in rage until the Turaga opened back up, but that would be out of line. Matau had a city to run, and that was much more important than his petty questions. He stood in silence with Talim and Jaka behind him, as if maybe, by some means, if he stared at the door long enough it would give in and splinter apart. But nothing happened.

 

“Well, now what?” Jaka asked.

 

Takua continued to stare at the door, grumbling to himself.

 

“Come on,” Talim said, grabbing Takua’s hand and pulling him away from the square of wood. “Let’s go spend your paycheck.”

 

As they climbed down to the square to go about their business, Matau watched them through his circular window. He shook his head just before waving his hand at the guard and thanking him. The guard bowed and walked out the back exit of the house. The Turaga heard footsteps behind him as Kokani’s face came into the reflection of the window.

 

“That was nicely placed,” The Ko-Matoran said. “But you can’t avoid his questions forever.”

 

“I know. But you know why we can’t tell him.”

 

“What if we’re going about this all wrong? Should we be hiding him, or taking him to Nuju, where he’ll be safe? This is an awful risk, Turaga.”

 

“He is safe. We’ve seen to that. And besides, the other Turaga have spoken, I don't have a choice.”

 

“Makuta always has schemes of his own. He rules darkness for a reason: you can’t see where he hides.” Kokani turned around, drumming his nervous fingers on the wall. “He’ll be here soon.”

 

Turaga Matau paused. “I know.”

 

 

~~~

 

 

"Hey!" The shopkeeper snapped. "If it's broken or scratched, you buy it."

 

Jaka swallowed hard and examined sword quickly. Putting it back on the shelf, he proudly said, "Its fine."

 

The shopkeeper gave him one last glare before turning back to Takua. He traced the back edge of the dagger with his finger. "Crafted out of protosteel, and inlaid with reinforced gold. You'll never have to worry about it breaking, unless you decide to try and cut apart something else made of protosteel.” He flipped it over in his hands, drawing attention to the shape of the blade. “Slightly curved, perfect for cutting, and partially serrated back here to rip apart anything that's left when it's pulled out.” Takua noted the serrated section of the back edge. “That’s something you might need with all the Rahi attacks these days." He turned the dagger upside down and pointed to a symbol on the very bottom of the handle. "This here says it was made in Onu-Koro: the highest quality you can find on Mata Nui." He placed it back down on the counter and looked up at Takua. "So, what do you think?" he asked.

 

Takua held the weapon in his hand. He felt the soft, dark red leather of the handle as he turned it over. He didn’t have a real reason for buying the weapon, except that it was a handy tool to have around, and the thought of having a blade on him at all times eased his nerves. Saku briefly flashed through his head. One can never be too cautious.

 

"I'll take it."

 

"Brilliant," the shopkeeper said. "That will be fifty widgets."

 

Takua's eyes widened at the price. "Never mind. I can't afford that."

 

The shopkeeper's smile faded as Takua turned away. Determined to make the sale, he grabbed Takua by the arm. "Tell you what, for you, I'll make it forty."

 

"I don't know," Takua scratched his head. "That's still most of my pay."

 

"Thirty-five."

 

"Deal," Takua offered his hand and the two shook on it. He walked out of the store with his new purchase closely followed by Jaka and Talim. He showed the dagger to them upon their request, and they admired the craftsmanship before deciding it was time for some food. Heading off to a pastry shop that Talim liked, Takua told himself that it was time to put the knife to the test: if it could cut fruitcake, it could cut anything.

 

It was mid-afternoon now, and Takua watched the people walk along the streets as the three sat in the pastry parlor and ate their dessert. The questions he wanted to ask Matau burned in the back of his head like the smoldering embers of a long dead fire: they refused to die, even though there was no more fuel and they were covered with dirt. He listened to Jaka and Talim's conversation without taking in any of their words. Every once and a while he caught something about the leak in Jaka's roof or a crazy customer at the Twisted Nail, but nothing seemed to matter to him. It seemed that everything he knew was being threatened by a simple trinket.

 

Matau's mention of the Atouri worried him. He didn't really believe that his necklace was a great and powerful artifact, but what if it was? What if the voices, the mysterious appearances by Saku, the heartbeat he kept hearing, what if it was all real? What if the darkness of Makuta was infecting him, and he was turning into a monster? What if he woke up one morning with an infected mask on his face with the desire to spread the darkness of Makuta, to destroy anything in his path, to kill the ones he loved?

 

Catching himself feeling the stone as it dangled from his neck, he quickly took it off and laid it on the table next to his unfinished fruitcake. Content to watch the salesmen and travelers walk about, he tried to calm his mind. He watched as wagons passed, pulled by various creatures and Rahi. A train of them went by, and through the cracks between them he thought he saw someone looking at him. Leaning closer to the window, he was able to verify that, yes, someone was staring at him from across the market. A figure, a all figure, one that wore dark robes, and a mask shaped like a serpent.

 

Saku!

 

In a second he stood up, sending his chair toppling over as he grabbed his dagger from where it rested at his belt. Eyeing the spaces between the wagon train closely, he waited for the last cart to pass. It did, only to reveal busy Matoran walking about the streets. Takua searched for the being, until he felt someone pulling on his arm.

 

"Takua?" Talim asked.

 

Takua turned around to see everyone in the small shop staring at him, frightened expressions on their faces. Realizing how threatening he must look, he quickly put his dagger away. Grabbing his chair from where it lay, he sat down and looked at his fruitcake.

 

"Takua, are you okay?" Talim asked again.

 

Hesitating, he managed to pull words out of his mouth. "Yeah. I'm fine."


Edited by ZOMBI3S, Mar 04 2017 - 06:58 PM.

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#9 Offline ZOMBI3S

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Posted May 08 2012 - 07:24 PM

Chapter 8 - Blood on the Leaves

 

 

"What did you see?"

 

"Nothing."

 

"Look at me," Talim grabbed Takua's hand underneath the table, her soft fingers brushing against his. The touch managed to sooth Takua, and slowly he obeyed, looking into her eyes for a moment before she repeated her question. "What did you see?"

 

Takua sighed, and began to tell her, and Jaka, everything. He told them every strange thing that had happened in the past few days, from his mysterious encounters with Saku, to the voice in his head, to his dreams, to the heartbeat, and so on. He continued, constantly worrying that he was sounding insane, waiting for them to get up from the table and leave, dismissing everything as an elaborate tale he'd made up for attention, but they didn't. His friends sat by him, listening intently, soaking in every single crazy word.

 

"I'm not sure what's real or not anymore," he concluded as he clenched the stone in his palm. “And it all started when Matau gave me this.”

 

Talim and Jaka looked at him, obviously concerned, although neither of them really knew what to say. It was Jaka who thought of something first. “Why don’t you just throw that thing away?”

 

“It’s not that easy.”

 

“Why not?”

 

Takua tried to think of the right words to say. “I don’t know, I feel I have this responsibility now, like someone has to take care of it. Matau gave it to me, so I’m the only one who can do it.”

 

“Tell you what,” Talim chimed in. “This whole thing is stressing you out, so I’ll hold onto it for the day.” She took hold of the chain, expecting Takua to let go, but he didn’t. “...you can have it back tonight, okay?” she asked, hopefully waiting for his permission.

 

Takua looked at her, then back to the stone resting in his hand. Now that he was given the choice, he wasn’t sure he wanted to let it go. He and the necklace had established a bond, and whatever that meant, he wasn’t sure if he was ready to give that up. He tried releasing his grip on it, but his fingers wouldn’t obey. They wanted to keep the stone. The stone wanted to keep him.

 

“Takua? Well, what do you say?” Talim said, bringing him back to the real world.

 

“...yeah. Sure,” he said slowly, releasing his grip on the stone. He watched her pull the glimmering chain out of his hand.

 

She brought the chain over her head until the stone rested against her chest, and suddenly, it was just a trinket again. “Now come on,” she said, smiling. “Let’s enjoy the rest of our day.”

 

Takua quickly finished the rest of his fruitcake and they left the pastry shop. He was finally able to put his thoughts to rest, and it seemed like a brand new day. Talim wore the stone as if it were a beautiful piece of jewelry, and Takua couldn’t help but notice how she seemed to radiate whenever the sun reflected off her armor. She would smile, and the entire area would light up with joy. She would laugh, and Takua had no choice but to smile himself.

 

The end of the day came quickly. Before long the glow of twilight engulfed the city in the trees, and the setting sun found the three friends by the fountain in the middle of the square. Matoran all around slowly packed up their stalls and shops, readying them for the night. Talim had ran into one of her friends who owned such a stall, and they had stopped to chat while Takua and Jaka waited, sitting on the edge of the fountain. Takua had met Talim's friend a few times, as he recognized her full green Ruru, but he couldn't quite place her name. Was it...Alani? That sounded right. He shifted his gaze to the water, watching the water bubble up from the fountain's center. After a few long minutes, Jaka threw a pebble into the water and let out a sigh.

 

“You ever wonder how girls can talk for so long?”

 

Takua smiled briefly. “One of the many mysteries of this land, I suppose.”

 

“Wait, why am I still here?” Jaka pronounced, as if a lightstone had suddenly gone off in his head. “She’s your girl; I don’t have to walk her home.”

 

“Okay, she is not my girl,” Takua responded rather quickly.

 

“Mahi dung! I see the way you look at her. Don’t even try to hide it.”

 

“Just because I hang out with her a lot doesn’t mean that there’s anything between us.”

 

“Now that’s funny!” Jaka retorted. “Just listen to her talk over there.”

 

They both craned their heads and cupped their ears so they could hear Talim’s conversation.

 

“…you should! I think he’s cute.”

 

Talim smiled. “Have you been eyeing him?”

 

Alani laughed. “Don’t worry he’s not my type. I like my Matoran a bit bigger than Takua.”

 

“But you know what they say about small Matoran,” Talim lowered her gaze and smirked.

 

Alani smiled and was quick to respond. “They’re big where it matters...!"

 

Takua coughed as blood rushed to his cheeks. Jaka scratched his head and looked up at the sky.

 

“But anyway…” Jaka cleared his throat. "Prove me wrong now."

 

“Look,” Takua allowed his vanity to come through. “I’m funny and I have good time, I get it. But That doesn't mean we’re anything more than friends."

 

"Why are you in denial? You just heard her talk about you!"

 

"What are you guys talking about?" The two Matoran looked up to see Talim standing in front of them, obviously finished with her own conversation.

 

"...politics."

 

"Well that's boring. Ready to go?"

 

The three left for the outskirts as darkness began to set in on the jungle city. They made their way through the buildings and trees with little conversation. The air smelled as it does before a storm, and the three quickened their pace as the wind pushed the clouds back over the city.

 

"Hey, Talim?" Takua asked. "Can I have my necklace back now?"

 

"Oh yeah, sure," she smiled as she slid the chain over her neck and handed it to him. The cold stone passed into his fingers, and suddenly, everything went black.

 

It was as if the very light around them was being sucked away, and they were plunged into night. The trees and bushes slipped from their view, and they had to struggle to see more than a dozen feet in front of them. Before they had time to react, a voice sounded from all around. It was a cold voice, one that Takua recognized from his dreams.

 

“You know, it’s kind of funny.”

 

“What’s going on?” Jaka asked, instantly on edge. No one was able to answer his question. “Who’s there?” he yelled out. The voice went on.

 

“In times of peace, Matoran think they are so powerful, so strong.”

 

There was the sound of steel cutting through flesh, a scream, and the cracking of branches behind them. Takua whirled around, drawing his dagger and pointing it towards where the noise had come from.

 

Talim gripped his hand. Her fingers were cold and trembling. “What’s going on, Takua?”

 

“They think that not only can they live without fear, but that they can actually fight the darkness!”

 

The voice spoke from everywhere. There was another flash of steel cutting flesh, and something else fell from the branches above them.

 

“I know that voice,” Takua managed to choke out. His fingers were twitching around his weapon as he slowly walked towards the first fallen object. “It’s Saku.” He gripped Talim’s hand tighter. “He’s here.”

 

“You think,” another cry, another unseen being falling from the trees. “That you stand a chance against me!”

 

Takua could hear moaning now. Whoever it was that Saku had attacked was dying. Slowly, he pushed apart the leaves of the underbrush and saw a Matoran he recognized. Talim gasped. Jaka cursed.

 

Two more attacks, two more bodies falling from the trees above them.

 

“You think you stand a chance against the power of Makuta!”

 

Takua gazed upon the captain of the Gukko Force, the head military power in Le-Koro. A deep gash in his torso had ripped apart his armor and flesh, and it was all the dying Matoran could do to look back at Takua’s horrified eyes without coughing up blood. He opened his mouth and managed to choke out one word:

 

“Run....”

 

The snap of a twig caused Takua to look up. Just behind the dying captain stood Saku, grinning to himself. His orange eyes glowing in the darkness, revealing his mask: shaped like a serpent's head.

 

“Hello, Takua.”


Edited by ZOMBI3S, Apr 19 2017 - 06:03 PM.

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#10 Offline ZOMBI3S

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Posted May 15 2012 - 03:31 PM

Chapter 9 - The Burning Tree

 

 

Takua sprinted as fast as he could, Talim and Jaka trailing just a few steps behind him. The guard riding a kahu had flown down from the trees just in time to give them a few precious seconds to flee, and they took full advantage of it. But as the leaves whipped passed Takua’s mask, he heard the cries of both the bird and the Matoran, and he knew they had only that: a few precious seconds.

 

Questions raced through his head faster than he could run, but he willed all his energy into moving his legs. He didn’t know where to go; only that it was away from Saku and the slaughtered guards. As his muscles burned he found he was making his way back into the city, and he prayed the narrow alleyways would help conceal them. He ran until he couldn't anymore, at which point he rounded a corner and slid to a stop with his back against a brick wall. Panting heavily, he watched as Jaka came into view a second later, followed by Talim. Takua sneaked a look around the corner of the building and looked down the street. A few late going Matoran walked about, but nothing else.

 

"I think we lost him," he gasped between breaths.

 

Jaka got up, grabbed Takua by the shoulders and slammed him into the brick.

 

"Ow! What are you doing!?"

 

"What are you doing, man!?" Jaka spat out. "You didn't tell me about this! A mask that looks like a serpent?! Do you know what that was!?"

 

"Does it look like it!?"

 

"That...that..." Jaka stammered. "...that was the Mask of Shadows! The Kraahkan! The face of death! Don't you know anything!?"

 

"What!?"

 

Talim got up and looked at Takua, panic in her eyes. "He's going to kill us Takua! What are we going to do?"

 

"Alright alright, calm down!" Takua answered. "The only pictures I've ever seen of it are rough sketches in Matau's house, so I'm sorry if I didn't recognize it."

 

"Man, we could've just died right there!" Jaka cursed, still trying to catch his breath. "How did he find you? What does he want from you? We're just Matoran, we can't fight that! He's got the Mask of Shadows!"

 

"I know!"

 

"What are we going to do?!"

 

"Chill out!" Takua commanded everyone, including himself. As panicked as he was, they had to do something except yell at each other. "Alright," he said, closing his eyes and breathing deeply for a second. "We can't stay here," he motioned to the damp alleyway, "if he's looking for us, he'll find us eventually. I say we go find the Turaga."

 

Jaka and Talim nodded in agreement, although it was obvious they were still shaken. A few drops of rain came down from the clouds, not at all improving their morale.

 

"Okay. I know how to get to his house from here, so—" A figure rounded the corner, and Takua let out a scream.

 

"Mata Nui, Takua you almost scared my mask off!" Raipu said, rather irritated. It had been a long day at the site, and he needed some rest.

 

"Raipu! Praise Mata Nui you're here! We need all the help we can get!"

 

Raipu cocked an eyebrow. "You fall off a building in some sort of trance this morning, and the next time I see you you're running around the city at night in the rain. What is wrong with you, Takua?"

 

Quickly, Takua told the story of what had happened. Normally, Raipu wouldn't have given Takua the time of day, but he had Jaka and Talim to back him up. The rain began to pick up, and a thunderclap sounded in the distance as Takua spoke.

 

"That's impossible," Raipu shook his head after hearing the story. "The Kraahkan was lost long before our time."

 

They had wasted enough time already, and Takua's already stressed mind caused him to snap. "Are you coming with us or not?"

 

"Alright! If it means that much to you. No need to snap."

 

Takua ignored his comment and took a quick look around the corner of the alley. The street beyond was empty. "Alright, it's clear. Follow me."

 

Gathering up his strength he bolted out into the open road, and ran in the direction of the town center. Nothing stopped them, which unnerved Takua. If Saku could kill a half-dozen members of the Gukko force seemingly without effort, he should have no problem finding a handful of Matoran running through the streets. But he shouldn’t think like that. Maybe the mysterious being wasn’t as powerful as he seemed. They could still get out of this. Matau would protect them, Takua thought. They would be safe once they were with him.

 

Within minutes they entered the square, and with one last dash they arrived at the base of Le-Koro’s largest tree. Climbing the ladder up to the platform that Matau’s home was situated on, Takua didn’t pause to knock. He burst through the door and stumbled in, only to freeze at the feel of a blade at his throat.

 

"Oh," Kokani said calmly, "it's you." The blade withdrew and the Ko-Matoran walked away through the other rooms of the house. Takua eyed the back of his head, wondering how he could be so calm after almost beheading someone. "Come," Kokani called. "Matau is out here."

 

The four followed him out the back door, where the Turaga stood in the rain, desperately peering through a telescope pointed at a patch of sky not covered with clouds. Upon seeing Takua, his face lightened up, and he ran to embrace the young Matoran. The Turaga’s frail arms wrapped around Takua as he returned them, still disheveled from what he had seen. It must have been an odd sight, but Takua didn’t care. He was scared, and something deep down was comforted by his mentor’s warm embrace.

 

“Praise Mata Nui you’re alright,” Matau said, placing his hands on Takua’s shoulders. “Where are the others?”

 

Takua looked up. “Others?”

 

“The guards I sent to protect you!”

 

Takua’s answer was short. “They’re dead.”

 

Kokani slammed his fist against the wall in frustration. “He must have known. We have to move, Matau.”

 

“No!” Takua yelled. Everyone stopped and looked at him. The rain patted against the platform as all was quiet for a moment. “Tell me what’s going on!” he demanded.

 

But his question would go unanswered. There was a sudden rush of wind, and almost out of nowhere, a giant shape flew over their heads. Takua's instinctively looked upward, catching the tail end of a gigantic, insectoid Rahi as it narrowly missed the roof of Matau’s house. Its four wings buzzed with a high-pitched hum, and it swirled around, revealing giant mandibles and clawed arms. The Rahi flew at them once again.

 

“Nui-Kopen!” Kokani yelled as he cast aside his cloak, revealing a long bladed staff. “Everyone stay down!”

 

Takua watched as the giant bug rushed forward, narrowly missing Kokani as he rolled out of the way. Jabbing his staff into the air, he managed to lop off one of the bugs arms as it passed overhead, spraying purple blood all over. The Nui-Kopen screeched, blood still seeping from its arm, and made a direct line for Kokani. The Matoran turned a second too late. He caught the full force of the Rahi, sending both of them tumbling out into open air. The wind and rain partially obscured the airborne battle, but soon the insect fell from the sky, crashing through many branches of until it was out of sight.

 

“No…” Matau mumbled to himself, as more Rahi appeared. “How did this happen…?” Before his eyes a swarm of Nui-Rama descended from the low clouds onto the city, and he caught sight of a Kane-Ra trampling through the streets, destroying everything in its path.

 

Takua looked out at the chaos as he heard the deep bass note of the great warning shells being blown all across the city. He knew everywhere that guards and Gukko Force members would be suiting up, ready to defend the city at all costs, but it didn’t seem to matter. He watched as the Kane-Ra rampaged through the square, crushing the fountain with one step as it destroyed the front end of theTwisted Nail. He watched as Matoran ran through the streets as they tried to save their homes, tried to find their friends and family. He watched as the guards tried to repel the beasts, only to be trampled into the ground and skewered by horns, teeth, and claws. He watched it all from his platform, safe high in the trees, an island of calm in a sea of chaos, and he couldn’t help but think of how helpless he was.

 

“Takua, we have to go!” Suddenly Jaka was shaking him, but he didn’t want to move. The images of his home burning still played in his mind. “Takua, come on!”

 

“Saku is coming, Takua.” The name of the mysterious being forced him from his daze. He turned around to look at Matau. “We have to leave before he finds you.”

 

Takua didn’t move. Instead, he stared at Matau, confusion written on his mask. “…you knew he was coming?”

 

“Of course I knew. Ever since we found the Storyteller,” Matau sighed. “I’m sorry I couldn’t tell you earlier.”

 

Takua didn’t know what to think. He was angry that Matau hadn’t told him, but he had to know the truth. “Then why didn’t you do anything? Why did you stand by and wait until I almost got killed?”

 

“It was a trap!” Matau had to raise his voice over the howling wind. “That’s why I had you surrounded with guards who were always out of sight, so they could protect you and catch Saku off guard when he decided to make his move.”

 

Takua stared in disbelief. “You used me?” He stammered. “As bait?”

 

“I know how this looks Takua, but I had no choice. This was the only lead we’ve ever had on Saku, and I couldn’t go against the words of the other Turaga. I’m sorry.” Matau looked deep into Takua’s eyes as the rain and wind swirled about. Thunder cracked as smoke rose from the trees in the distance. “But we have to leave, there’s no time!”

 

The Le-Matoran couldn’t take it. “Why didn’t you tell me!?” he yelled. “Did you know about this!?” He motioned to the burning city behind him as he ripped the Atouri from his neck. “It’s not me, Saku wants, it’s this! Why did you give this to me!? You could’ve just thrown it away and none of this would've happened!”

 

“I understand you’re upset, Takua. But please, we have to move before—“

 

“Oh, it’s already too late for that, Matau.”

 

Takua spun around at the sound of the voice, and instantly his anger was replaced with fear. Saku stood at the other end of the platform, grinning as lightning flashed in the sky behind him.


Edited by ZOMBI3S, Apr 03 2017 - 10:45 PM.

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#11 Offline ZOMBI3S

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Posted Jul 10 2012 - 01:37 AM

Chapter 10 - Air and Shadow

 

 

Matau threw his arms in front of Takua, putting himself between the Matoran and Saku. The rain tapped against his armor as the wind howled around them. Jaka, Raipu, and Talim backed away to the other side of the platform, unsure of what to do. “You will not take him!” Matau called out over the sound of the storm.

 

Saku did not reply. He turned and leisurely walked along the length of the platform, revealing a figure that stood behind him. It was a tall and humanoid, but with certain...almost insect-like properties. It carried itself on muscular, powerful legs, and long arms supported large, clawed hands. Two beady eyes stared out from its angular head, and a pair of intimidating mandibles twitched at its mouth. It carried itself proudly, with broad shoulders and a full chest, and it wore gold armor laced with red war paint. As tall as Saku, it looked down at the Matoran before it.

 

Paying no attention to the storm as he examined the blade on his staff, Saku nodded his head toward the being. “A war is coming, Matau. But if you just step out of the way this doesn’t have to get any worse.”

 

“Take your monsters elsewhere,” Matau spat out the word, as if it disgusted him. “Kryll have no place here.”

 

Takua looked back and forth from the being to Saku. So this is a Kyll… He’d heard stories about the creatures, but never actually seen one.

 

Saku chuckled, almost mocking the Turaga. “Don’t be a fool. We can still talk this out."

 

"You and I both know that’s not going to happen, Toa."

 

Takua’s mind flickered. A Toa?

 

Matau released a pulse of air from his body so strong that it could have blown the roof off a house, but as it crashed into Saku, the Toa didn't move. Strain showed on his face, but as the blast passed, he was unharmed. Standing back up to his full height, he eyed the Turaga. He rushed forward, hurling shadow bolts at Matau, who suddenly stood on the balls of his feet and —as if he had been faking his old and frail demeanor— dodged them with amazing speed. He whirled around and in a few quick strides caught Saku in the stomach with a punch reinforced with air. Saku gagged and stumbled back before launching his assault again.

 

They fought with speed impossible to any Matoran, exchanging numerous blows and dodging others in barely any time at all. Takua watched from where he stood on the platform with fear and awe, all the while the Kryll eyed him and the other Matoran, as if making sure they didn’t interfere. Pulses of shadow and air flew this way and that as the opponents struck and jumped and dodged and struck again. Takua had no idea Matau possessed this kind of speed and power. The flurry of attacks soon became unreadable.

 

With a sudden blast of shadow the two flew apart, and Matau stumbled dangerously close the edge of the platform. His posture was slumped and he breathed heavy.

 

"Give up old one," Saku called out, taunting the Turaga. He raised his arms non-nonchalantly.  "You can't beat me." The rain pelted him and the tiny pings of water hitting armor interfered with his voice. He took a step forward, only to stop and shield himself against a wall of incoming air. Matau’s attack slammed into him, threatening to knock the Toa off his feet, but he gritted his teeth and gripped the platform, not allowing it to move him.

 

Matau panted, wordless against Saku’s jeer. He released another pulse of air, this time catching Saku off guard, and the Toa stumbled back. Seizing the foothold, Matau attacked again, sending a narrow stream of air flying through the rain, puncturing Saku’s shoulder armor as the Toa cried out. Three more times Matau attacked, and Saku staggered back and fell to his knees as the armor on his thigh and chest cracked.

 

Matau managed to smirk, but the effort was taking its toll on him. He wasn't a Toa, and controlling his element took great strength. Sweat coated his brow as the rain washed over him, and he found his muscles straining just to keep himself upright.

 

Saku took the moment to get up and advanced a step before being pummeled with another air blast. Planting his feet down, he fought through it and stayed his position. He took another step towards the Turaga.

 

Whoosh! Matau blasted him once again, but his attacks didn’t seem to have the same amount of power. Saku could feel it. Matau was weakening, fast. Saku gained a few more steps on the Turaga as Matau tried to repel him. Takua watched as the tide of the fight quickly turned. He had to do something. Turaga Matau was losing, he had to do something!

 

Letting loose another barrage, Matau winced. His arms ached, his mind was tired. He needed rest. Sweat mixed with rain covered his body, dripping off the corners of his armor.

 

Thud! Saku's armored foot hit the ground again. Lightning streaked across the sky and lit up the platform for a second. The sounds of dying soldiers drifted up from the ground below.

 

Do something Takua! Takua screamed at himself inside his head. But no, his limbs wouldn't move. The Kryll had drawn a curved sword and was eyeing him closely, keeping him and the others separated from the battle. But it didn't matter. Takua was possessed by fear, and all he could do was stand and watch.

 

Saku clenched his staff as he channeled shadow into it. The blade turned a blackish-purple and started to crackle, as if it was charged with electricity. Only ten feet separated the beings, and the distance was closing.

 

Matau's entire being cried out in pain. Give up, his body whispered in his ears, just give up. He saw the crackling shadow on Saku’s blade, and he knew it was now or never. Channeling his strength, he let out one final blast of air. The great force slammed into Saku, who braced himself against the ground. Harder and harder Matau pushed, willing the air to do his bidding, to rid his city of this evil. He cried out, finally letting his pain take over his voice. His arms ached and stung, and it felt as if the very drops of rain hitting him were weights of lead, but he kept on pushing. He pushed and pushed, pounding his enemy with the force of the air, until finally his strength failed him and his power let out.

 

Barely able to stand, Matau wheezed as he swayed back and forth, unsteady on his feet. He looked up, and Saku still stood before him.

 

Holding his crackling staff, Saku walked forward until he stood face to face with Matau. The Kraahkan upon his face seemed to laugh.

 

"Sorry it had to be this way."

 

Takua watched in horror as he plunged the blade into the Turaga's chest, ripping apart armor and flesh. Matau threw his head back and screamed silently, as no sound came out of his mouth. Saku finished his attack and unceremoniously ripped the blade from Matau’s body. The Turaga seemed to hang in the air as he swayed with the rain, arms outstretched. The expression on his face slowly calmed as he looked at the young Matoran holding the Atouri from across the platform.

 

"Takua...I'm so sorry."

 

And he tumbled off the edge of the platform.


Edited by ZOMBI3S, Mar 01 2017 - 11:27 PM.

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#12 Offline ZOMBI3S

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Posted Aug 06 2012 - 02:53 AM

Chapter 11 - Tears

 

 

Takua watched as his lifelong friend and mentor disappeared from sight, and he knew that Matau was no more. Tears formed in his eyes as he clenched his fists, trying to handle his emotions. This can't be happening. This has to be a dream...

 

And then the world seemed to stop. The entire platform darkened as shadow surrounded it, and a voice sounded from all around them. It was an old, deep, rumbling voice, one that was ancient, powerful, and brimming with madness.

 

"And so the final chapter of Turaga Matau is written, as his part in our tale has ended."

 

Then, like a ghost, a Matoran materialized in the middle of the platform. Although its voice was powerful, the Matoran itself seemed old and weak. It shimmered with every movement, as if the being was not actually there. A Hau rested upon its face, rusted and pitted so much that it was impossible to determine its original color. Takua shuddered as he looked at it. The very sight of the Matoran made him think of infection, death, and destruction.

 

Fear coursed through Takua. He watched the shimmering image of the Matoran, suddenly feeling sick to his stomach. He held his breath, staring, mesmerized by the sight of this infected, rusted, twisted being. He couldn't move. He wanted to vomit, to run away, to hide underneath his bed, but all he could do was stare at this horrifying creature before him. A thought began to well up inside him, growing like a parasite, and slowly, he began to piece together what he looked at. Slowly, he realized the true horror of the being that stood before him.

 

Makuta.

 

Instantly Saku sank to one knee and bowed his head for the infected Matoran, who paid him little notice in return. The Kryll, however, did not even turn around, and kept its gaze fixed Takua on and his friends.

 

The ghostly Matoran walked closer to the edge of the platform, gazing out at the burning city as the sounds of chaos still wafted up to them. “Look out at your home, Takua,” he addressed the Le-Matoran without even turning to look at him. “Look at what I’ve done.”

 

The stone around Takua’s neck glinted in the rain, and as the Matoran talked to him as if he had known Takua for his entire life, he suddenly couldn't take it. "Stop!" Takua yelled as he drew his dagger and pointed it shakily in front of him, even though he was well out of range. “Who are you!?" he pleaded, even though deep down, he already knew the answer.  "Why are you doing this!?”

 

The Matoran turned around and his eyes glinted as he watched the stone dangle from Takua's neck. "We’re here for you, Takua. And the Atouri."

 

"How do you know my name!?"

 

Takua felt a sudden pain in his side as he was hit. He fell to the ground and slid a few feet before coming to a stop underneath the Kryll's blade. It spoke to him in a clear, deep voice, sprinkled with hatred.

 

"Matoran have no place to speak among gods.”

 

Jaka stood up. “Let him go!”

 

With a twitch of his hand Saku released a bolt of shadow that slammed into Jaka, knocking him back into Raipu. Takua watched from where he lay as his friends fell, without any effort from the Toa. Whatever was going to happen, there was nothing that could save them.

 

Talim now stood alone, and she turned to face the rusted Matoran. Tears welled up in her eyes as she spoke. “Please, just leave us alone. We’ve done nothing to you.”

 

The Matoran with the rusted Hau stared at her intensely. “You have much light inside of you.” There was a whirl of shadow, and suddenly he was beside her, circling, like a wolf around its prey. “What is your name, little one?”

 

“...Talim,” she stuttered.

 

The Hau twisted into a smile as the being flickered. “You’re the one who found him,” he said, motioning to Takua. “All those years ago?”

 

She hesitated, but eventually swallowed, and nodded.

 

Takua fidgeted and tried to get up, but he was stopped by the tip of the Kryll’s blade. “Don’t touch her!” he yelled. His side split with pain as the Kryll kicked him, and once again he was wordless, writhing on the ground. The Matoran paid Takua no attention, as his eyes were fixed on Talim. Her bottom lip quivered as she stared straight ahead, not making eye contact with the figure circling her.

 

“You’re the one who’s always been there. You’re the one he holds so dear....” The Matoran circled around to stand in front of her, his rusty mask just inches from hers. “It would be a shame to lose something so…” He placed his hands on her cheeks and she winced as they passed straight through her. The shimmering Matoran was not actually present. “…delicate.”

 

“Don’t touch her!” Takua yelled again.

 

The ghost-Matoran smiled at Takua’s anger, but he turned around and left Talim as she was. “What do you fear, Takua?”

 

Still at the mercy of the Kryll’s blade, Takua looked around with his eyes for an escape. He had to get free, but if he even twitched the blade got closer to his throat. He didn’t reply to the Matoran.

 

“Is it pain? Death?”

 

Takua watched as the Matoran walked over to him, even as Saku now moved towards Talim. Still he refused to answer the question. His mind was solely focused on a way to escape the Kryll's blade. He had to get up. Even if he didn’t stand a chance, he had to fight. He refused to go down like this.

 

“Or is it something more personal? The loss of your friends? The knowledge that you are alone in this world?”

 

Saku now stood over Talim as she backed into the wall of the Turaga’s house. She looked past the Toa, and her eyes met Takua’s briefly.

 

“Do you fear the darkness, Takua?”

 

Takua looked up at the infected Hau, and the world seemed to stand still. The howling winds and rain were gone for a moment as Takua looked from the infected being that stood above him to Talim’s fearful blue eyes. He felt the cold steel at his throat, the water dripping from his armor, the splintering wood of the platform beneath him. The Atouri pressed against his chest as he looked at Talim, completely helpless.

 

Thump-thp.

 

“No,” he replied.

 

And the Hau smiled. “Oh, so unwise.”

 

Saku grasped Talim directly over her heartlight and she screamed. Energy poured out of her as the Toa’s face lit up with a look of sheer joy. Random bolts of shadow flew from the Toa, blasting into the platform and the surrounding trees. The attack increased in intensity, until Talim’s scream died out and all that was left was the look of death on her face. More and more energy the Toa stole from her, until finally he released his grip and Talim crumpled to the floor. Her mask was losing its color, and her mouth moved constantly as she repeated one word, over and over: Takua.

 

“No!” Takua screamed. With the strength and speed that only his rage and reflexes could provide, he forced the Kryll's blade off him and ran at Saku with nothing but his fists. “I’ll kill you!" he screamed. "I’ll kill you!” 

 

The Toa turned his head and met Takua’s enraged gaze, and with a flick of his wrist a blast of shadow slammed into Takua. He was knocked off his feet and sent sliding to the edge of the platform. He lay there, stunned, his sudden strength and anger gone, replaced with the cold hard fact that he was helpless. He gazed up at the lightning-streaked sky, the rain washing over him. It washed away his strength, his will to fight, his home, his friends, and it left him with nothing. Tears began to fall freely from his eyes as he couldn’t help but wonder, why?

 

“You are the product of the Prophecies, the one who would travel many miles and accomplish great deeds.” He heard the Infected Matoran say. “You were born out of nothing, and so it is into nothing that you will go. You hold my heart in your grasp, and I would have it back, Takua.”

 

His body aching, Takua struggled to his knees. He looked down at the Atouri. It shimmered with random flecks of light.

 

Thump-thp.

 

Letting out a sigh, Takua's muscles loosened as he let the stone roll out of his fingers. With a clatter it hit the platform and rolled to a stop. His home was gone, Matau was gone, Talim was gone, all for nothing.

 

“What’s going to happen now?” Rain dripping off his mask, he looked up at the Matoran. “Nothing else really matters anymore.”

 

The Matoran bent over to look Takua in the eyes. It was strange; the yellow eyes of this being who had brought him so much pain weren’t so different from his. Takua gazed into them, and somewhere deep inside, instead of hatred and anger, he found acceptance, and he felt at home. The Matoran spoke, and the voice wasn’t brimming with madness anymore. It was calming, and he spoke to Takua as if he were an equal.

 

“Come with us, Takua. There is nothing for you here.”

 

Slowly, Takua nodded. He didn’t move as shadow welled up around him. He didn't resist as the tendrils of darkness pulled at his limbs. They wrapped around him and embraced him, pulling, pulling him down. He fell to the ground. The shadow spread all over his body as the very wood beneath him opened up to the void. He slowly sank into it and he felt his mind slipping away. Little by little, the sounds of wind and rain faded, until he could hear nothing at all. But then, somewhere, he heard a whisper. A tiny whisper, just barely discernable.

 

You reside with light, but you must be careful.

 

Takua’s vision flickered and went hazy. He wasn’t aware of much anything going on, but he thought he heard the clash of steel as his mind began to slow.

 

The closer you are to the light, the greater your shadow is cast.

 

A blurry white figure came into his vision, just before he went blind.

 

But don't be afraid.

 

There was movement around him, a blink of chaos in the calm of darkness.

 

The stars will guide you on your journey.

 

Someone held him and he felt strong arms carry him away.

 

For you hold the greatest power of all.

 

His mind shut down, and finally, he rested.

 

You are the one who will bring back the balance.

 

 

~End of Part I~


Edited by ZOMBI3S, Mar 01 2017 - 11:55 PM.

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#13 Offline ZOMBI3S

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Posted Aug 27 2012 - 04:48 PM

part2.jpg

 

Chapter 1 - The Cold, Hard World

 

 

Takua opened his eyes.

 

At first everything was blurry. He stared at the grayish-brown mass in front of him. Slowly, his vision grew sharper and he could tell that he was staring at a wall. It was dirt. His eyes shifted upwards a little bit, and the wall changed texture and color. Now it was more reddish-brown, and much smoother. He realized that there was an animal skin stretched over the dirt, probably for insulation.

 

He was warm, which confused him. If insulation was needed, why was he warm? He turned his attention to other things. The surface he was lying on was rather soft, and something was draped over him that was quite fuzzy. It confused him why it was so hard to figure anything out, and thinking about thinking confused him even more, so he decided to return to the matter of what he was lying on. He lay there, staring at the skin-covered dirt wall, pondering his situation for a few minutes.

 

He was in a bed. With fur blankets.

 

Feeling a bit ambitious, he turned over so he faced the ceiling. It was also dirt, which led him to conclude that he was in some kind of burrow-dwelling. Propping himself up on his arms, he took his first real look at the place.The burrow was circular, and made entirely of dirt. Various parts of the walls were covered in animal skins, giving the room a rustic feel. A small fire crackled in a stone fireplace on the opposite end of the room, and a narrow doorway covered with fur was cut out just before Takua's bed. He liked the place. It had a nice, homey feel to it.

 

In fact, Takua felt really good. After a great night's sleep, he felt energized and ready to go out and explore the world. It called his name, and he was ready to meet the challenge. Sitting on the edge of the bed, he threw back the covers and stretched his arms out wide, cracking his back a little. Ah, that feels better.

 

Wait, no it didn't. It was cold. It was really cold. It was freezing! This wasn't the jungle at all! With all his speed he swiveled his legs back onto the bed and curled into a ball. He reached for the blanket that was now lying at his feet.

 

"No, come back," he told the covers as they slipped out of his freezing hands.

 

After what seemed like forever, but was really only seconds, he pulled the fuzzy blanket over him. It warmed him steadily until he was back at a comfortable temperature, and he stared at the fire for a while. “Mata Nui,” he said out loud to himself. He wasn't too fond of the temperature here. Wherever ‘here’ was.

 

The fur concealing the doorway flapped open as someone walked into the room. Takua saw a Le-matoran about his age, who wore a Kakama. Hints of amber spoke out against the deep green of his armor. He wore a fur coat.

 

"Takua!" Jaka cried out as he ran to the bed and hugged him.

 

"What's going on? Why are you hugging me?"

 

"Mata Nui! I was afraid you wouldn't ever wake up!"

 

"Huh? Why? How long was I out?"

 

Jaka’s smile faded and he shook his head. "To be honest, I’m not sure. At least a fortnight."

 

Takua was taken aback. A fortnight? "No, that can’t be right. Just last night we were in Le-Koro and…" he trailed off.

 

It was only then that Takua recalled the events of the past. The whirling storm, the Rahi, the Kryll, Saku, and the Infected Matoran: all of it seemed like a bad dream. In his head he saw Turaga Matau's broken body falling off that platform, and Talim's crumpled shape twitching on the ground. Suddenly the dream became all too real. He didn't want to think about it. If he did, he would surely break down, and he didn't want Jaka to see him like that.

 

"Why is it so cold?" he asked, trying to direct his thoughts to other matters.

 

The corners of Jaka's mouth slid up as he pulled a fur coat off the wall and handed it to Takua. "Come see for yourself."

 

Putting the coat on, Takua got out of the bed and followed Jaka as he pushed aside the fur that hung in the doorway. He led them through a small tunnel that eventually dead-ended into a wall of snow. With a firm kick, the snow gave way to Jaka's foot, and light poured in. Stepping out into the daylight, Takua was met with a beautiful sight.

 

They stood on a huge mountain slope, covered with fresh, virgin snow. Ahead a vast mountain range stretched as far as the eye could see, the horizon composed of rock that reached even higher than they were now. The sunlight of midday shone off the snow and the occasional black rock, making it seem as if the mountains glowed. The air smelled clean and sweet, and as Takua inhaled his first breath of fresh air, he could almost taste the watery texture of the cold snow that covered his feet.

 

"Wow," he said, at a loss for words.

 

"Right there," Jaka said, pointing at the tallest mountain on the horizon. "That's Mount Ihu, the highest point on the entire island."

 

Takua marveled at the sight for a few minutes, before his mind yet again turned to the past. No amount of beauty could make him forget that. "Jaka?" he asked.

 

"Yeah?"

 

"What happened back there?"

 

Continuing to gaze at the mountains, Jaka let out a sigh. "Come back inside. You must be hungry. And there are a lot of things to be said."

 

Upon returning to the earthen room, Jaka opened a small storage door Takua hadn't noticed before. He took out a bundle of cloth and unwrapped it, revealing a few strips of jerky. Takua took one and bit into it. It was tough and stale, but at least it was food. Now that he thought about it, he was extremely hungry.

 

"It was Kokani who saved us."

 

Takua continued to stare at his jerky and grunted. He wasn’t sure how he felt about the Ko-Matoran. Even after everything that had happened, Matau and Kokani had used him, and he wasn’t sure if he could forget that just yet.

 

"If it wasn’t for him, I’m sure none of us would be here now," Jaka paused. “What do you remember?”

 

"I remember..." Takua searched his thoughts. "I remember darkness. But I could feel someone holding me. Where is he now?"

 

"Out hunting with Raipu. We're low on food."

 

"Raipu's here?"

 

"Yeah," Jaka relaxed and sat with his back to the fire, warming himself. He paused again, as if he didn’t have anything else to say. The fire crackled and popped for a few moments, and it seemed as if the two Matoran were lost in thought, but then Jaka opened his mouth, rapidly spilling out words as his voice cracked. "I’m really sorry I couldn’t help you. I know you were trying to fight them and I was going to help, but…” he trailed off as he looked at the ground. “But I just froze up. I’m really sorry.”

 

"Don't be sorry, it's not your fault. It’s fine." Talim crumpled to the ground in his head. She’s really gone…

 

Jaka waited a few moments before he went on, his voice slowly returning to normal. "Luckily Kokani showed up. He fought Saku and took you out of that Matoran's spell just in time. When I got back to being myself we picked up you and Raipu, and ran."

 

Takua concentrated on his jerky. There was a pause in Jaka’s monologue, and he had nothing to say.

 

"I'm really sorry about Talim."

 

Talim… Takua let out a sigh. "It's fine."

 

They sat there for a few moments in silence, Takua eating his jerky and Jaka sitting with his back to the fire, rubbing his arms to keep warm. Eventually Jaka got up, patted Takua on the shoulder, and went outside. Takua took another bite out of his jerky and stared at the stick of meat as he slowly chewed on its texture. The cold, hard feeling of the meat stuck to the inside of his mouth, and he couldn't help but think how perfect it was for this cold, hard world that he lived in. Swallowing, he looked at it again.

 

Why!?

 

He threw the piece of meat against the far wall. After staring at it for a few seconds, he lowered his head into his hands, and cried.


Edited by ZOMBI3S, Mar 12 2017 - 02:44 PM.

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#14 Offline ZOMBI3S

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Posted Aug 31 2012 - 07:53 PM

Chapter 2 - A New Beginning

 

 

With nothing to do, Takua and Jaka waited. They passed the time within the mountainside burrow, talking, tending to the fire, and occasionally sitting on the slope outside as they watched the snow gently fall. Soon night fell, and the winds began to pick up. The temperature dropped and the snow whirled around the mountaintop, forcing Jaka to rebuild the wall of snow that covered the burrow’s entrance. Safe inside, the two ate a few strips of jerky and soon fell asleep.

 

Takua’s dreams plagued him. Countless times during the night his mind forced him to relive the loss of his home, and every time it seemed to get worse. First he would watch as the Twisted Nail was destroyed by Rahi, and then there was Matau with Saku’s blade in his chest. Lastly, Talim stared listlessly at him as she twitched, her lips repeating his name.

 

Takua…help me.

Thump-thp.

 

He awoke in a sweat as he gasped for breath and looked around the room. The dying embers of the fire lit it dimly. Jaka lay against the far wall, still asleep.

 

He told himself as he lay back down. It’s just a dream... 

 

By the time they awoke the storm had receded, once again giving way to the bright blue skies and crisp air of Ko-Wahi. Takua followed Jaka as he once again kicked down the snow barrier, poking his head outside. Then, the Matoran froze.

 

“What’s the deal?” Takua asked. “I’d like some fresh air too.”

 

Jaka pulled his head back into the tunnel. “We can’t go out there. There’s Kryll.”

 

Takua remembered the insect-like being that had held him down in Le-Koro, and felt a twinge of anger. “Let me see,” he asked.

 

“You can look, just don’t make any noise,” Jaka said, but Takua had already shuffled passed him and poked his head out the entrance.

 

Down in the trough where their peak met the one closest to them, two figures walked, silhouetted against the white snow. Takua could tell from their long, angular heads and tall bodies that they were Kryll, even though they were a couple hundred yards away. They walked at a steady pace, surveying the land around them as they worked their way into a valley dotted with pine trees.

 

“They’ve been searching for us since they lost our trail outside of Le-Koro,” Jaka said from behind Takua. “Kokani thinks they’re Saku’s minions.”

 

Takua noted the curved blades they carried at their waists. Their armor was the same shape as the one that had been in Le-Koro, albeit it wasn’t gold. “Do you think they still want the Atouri?” The thought of the stone made him inadvertently brush his fingers against it, just to see if it was still around his neck. It was.

 

“I don’t see why else they would care about us.”

 

Takua stared at the Kryll, watching them as they trudged through the snow. His mind began to wander, and eventually he turned around to ask his friend another question.

 

“Can you see the jungle from here?”

 

Jaka looked at him curiously at the sudden change of subject. “Yeah, if you climb to the summit. Why?"

 

“I was just wondering.”

 

Jaka shrugged and walked back into the den. Takua followed him, carefully patching up the wall of snow beforehand. He sat down and the two stared at the fire as it cast its orange glow around the room. It was dreary, to say the least, knowing that they were being hunted. Takua couldn’t help but feel claustrophobic. He was trapped underground, unable to leave until the Kryll were well out of sight. The thought depressed him.

 

“What do we do now, Jaka?” he asked, his black Pakari reflecting the light of the fire.

 

Jaka sighed. “I wish I knew.”

 

 

~~~

 

 

It was another two days until Kokani and Raipu appeared out of the trees in the valley, much to Takua and Jaka’s happiness. They had grown tired of the burrow, and were running low on food.

 

Straining his eyes in the late afternoon sun, Takua could tell that the two were carrying a large bundle of mountain fish, as well as a few roots and leaves that looked edible. It was a far thing from what he was used to in Le-Koro, but hunt had been successful. Kokani was very experienced when it came to hunting and tracking, and it was only because of him that they had made it this far. Slowly, the two figures trudged their way up the frozen plain, until finally they met where he and Jaka sat upon the snow, just outside the burrow's entrance.

 

Kokani threw the net of fish on the ground. "You’re awake," he said to Takua.

 

“Apparently,” Takua said, not quite sure how to respond.

 

Raipu smiled. "It’s about time we had some good news."

 

Takua nodded to the Po-Matoran, happy to see someone else from home. Kokani untangled his net, and recruited their help with wrapping the fish in leather strips he had produced from his pack. In the freezing climate, it would keep for a decent while. When they were finished, he walked into the den and motioned for the three younger Matoran to follow. Takua soon found himself sitting on the edge of the bed, staring at Kokani as the mysterious Ko-Matoran leaned up against the far wall, his right hand resting on the edge of the bladed staff that was slung across his back. He waited for Kokani to speak up, to provide answers, but the moment the Ko-Matoran opened his mouth Takua cut him off, surprising even himself.

 

“You knew the whole time they were coming; why didn’t you do anything?”

 

Kokani closed his mouth and his icy blue eyes locked onto Takua’s. He looked like a dangerous Rahi for a second, about to lash out at the young Le-Matoran, but in another second it was gone, and he calmly replied. “We took a risk, and it didn’t work out. I’m sorry, Takua. I know you’ve lost a lot.”

 

Suddenly Takua couldn’t control himself. He’d thought he’d gotten over it in the past few days. He’d thought he would’ve been able to handle this. “You took a risk? Everything I have is gone! Matau and Talim are dead because of you!”

 

Kokani spoke up, and the hint of the Rahi was back. Jaka and Raipu winced. “Do not blame me for your losses, tree-swinger. Matau was my friend as well, and if it were not for me you would all be dead.” The strength and deepness of his voice lingered in the air, enforcing Kokani’s dominion over the room. After a few moments, he continued. “I expected better manners from one Matau had held so dear.”

 

Takua was taken aback, but Kokani's words had managed to snap him to his senses. He had been rude. “You’re right. I’m sorry. It’s been a little rough I guess.”

 

Kokani nodded in understanding. “Now, shall I tell you why I have brought you here?”

 

The three nodded.

 

“Turaga Nuju has called for your council. The Atouri must be kept safe, and it is my understanding that he has plans once it arrives in Ko-Koro. I would take it to him myself, but I would rather honor Matau’s decision to make you its keeper,” he said, nodding to Takua. “I will always honor the wishes of the dead.”

 

Takua swallowed and took the black stone off his neck. “You want us to come with you to Ko-Koro?”

 

“I want you to come with me,” Kokani said simply. “But your friends are welcome as well, as long as they abide by my rules.”

 

“Good,” Jaka stood up. “Because Takua’s not going anywhere without me.”

 

Takua rolled the Atouri back and forth in his hands, a little surprised that he was actually considering Kokani’s offer. Could he really leave everything behind, just like that? Yes, Le-Koro was mostly gone, but they could still rebuild. He had dreamed of traveling the island, but wasn’t that what it was always going to be? A dream?

 

He looked up at Kokani, and then Jaka. Jaka would stand by him no matter what decision he made, but it didn’t seem like he was sad to leave. His friend’s Kakama was full of life and energy. It brought him back to a time when things weren’t so desperate. It was a time when the two would mess around and cause trouble in the streets of Le-Koro, just to see what would happen. Just for the sake of adventure.

 

Finally, he back at looked at Kokani. With a half-smile and a shrug, “What have I got to lose?”

 

Kokani was pleased, and he showed it through a slight turn of the corners of his mouth. Raipu, on the other hand, took some convincing. The Po-Matoran had gotten used to the trees, and he wasn’t quite ready to leave them at the words of a stranger. But, after a good while he started to come around, as he wouldn’t last long in the frozen wastes by himself anyway. With nothing left to argue with, he closed his mouth and agreed to follow along with the others.

 

Kokani opened the storage door and emptied all of its contents, strewing them all over the floor. Various strips of canvas and wood poles came out, along with many other seemingly random items, such as heatstones, lightstones, knives, even a frying pan. Kokani showed the others how to make their own packs out of the canvas and poles, and they filled them to the brim with all the other items they would need on their journey. Lastly, they packed the food Kokani and Raipu had brought in earlier.

 

As Takua struggled with his pack, Kokani passed a long object wrapped in cloth to him. “Here. You might want this.”

 

Takua unfolded the cloth to reveal the dagger he had bought in Le-Koro. He smiled. At least I have one thing from home.

 

Burdened by their heavy packs and fur coats, they finally set foot outside on the icy slopes. Mixed emotions filled them: sadness, regret for those they had lost, but there was also a hint of excitement, and longing to see what the future would bring. It was near the end of the day, and the sun was beginning to set. They had only made it a few feet outside the burrow when Takua had a thought.

 

"Wait," Takua said, stopping them before they went any further.

 

They all turned to look at him. Takua dropped his pack and began to run up the slope of the mountain, heading for the summit.

 

"Takua!"

 

"What's he doing?"

 

The snow crunched beneath his feet as he ran up the steep incline. He passed the burrow's entrance, pushing himself farther and farther up the snow-covered rock, and its peak came into view just a few dozen feet ahead. The cold air churned through his lungs as he traversed the last few yards to the summit, and as he pulled himself to the mountain's highest point, a wondrous view greeted him.

 

The entire valley of Le-Wahi sprawled out beneath Takua, his feet straddling the crest of the rock. No trace of the earlier destruction was visible; only the peaceful green expanse of trees existed until they were swallowed up by mist on the horizon. He stood there, taking it all in, gazing out at the land in which he had lived his entire life. The wind rustled the edges of his coat, and he closed his eyes for a second, silencing his thoughts.

 

Footsteps crunched through the snow behind him, steadily approaching until they were just a few feet behind Takua. Jaka's voice reached his ears, quiet and calm, yet with a hint of longing.

 

"Beautiful, isn't it?"

 

Takua sighed, filling his lungs with the mountain air, savoring the pure taste of it. He opened his eyes. "Yeah.”

 

The two friends looked out, savoring the view as best they could. It was everything they had ever known, right in front of them. Everything behind was unknown, and while it held the promise of new adventures, they both knew that adventure could be a scary thing sometimes.

 

“We're really leaving, aren't we?"

 

"Hey," Jaka put his hand on Takua's shoulder. "We'll come back."

 

Takua pulled the edges of his coat closer around him, starting to feel the bite of the cold. "A lot of things will have changed by then."

 

“Yeah,” Jaka gazed out at the horizon. "But we’ll probably change a lot too."

 

It was quiet for a few minutes more, with only the wind rustling their ears, but eventually Kokani's voice echoed from the mountain behind them.

 

"We'll want to be off the slope before the night winds arise!"

 

After a brief pause, Jaka left to follow the Ko-Matoran, leaving Takua alone on the summit. He took his last look at the jungle, and thought of what was to come. What adventures and stories waited? What would the horizon bring them, and what would they make of it?

 

Maybe, he thought, when he was old and everything was over, he’d settle down and write about what would begin on this day. It would be an entertaining tale, one worthy of telling around fires, and maybe even in taverns like the Twisted Nail. Who knew? Maybe, just maybe, it would be worthy to be placed next to the chronicles of old, and Matoran would etch his name into the Wall of History as the one who wrote the latest chapter in the Biological Chronicle of Mata Nui.

 

He smiled to himself. Keep dreaming, Takua. Keep dreaming.


Edited by ZOMBI3S, Mar 04 2017 - 06:51 PM.

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#15 Offline ZOMBI3S

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Posted Sep 09 2012 - 02:09 PM

Chapter 3 - Brutality and Guilt

 

 

It was their third day of traveling, and the narrow, snow-covered trail led them deep into the valley of pines, just north Kokani’s burrow. Takua's eyes wandered as they made their way through the tall trees, snow gently falling all around. Kokani set the pace at a slow and deliberate trudge, and Takua couldn't help but to stare at everything around him. Ko-Wahi's snows were a marvel to him after all, having grown up in the warm and wet jungle. Once, he caught something move out of the corner of his eye, and turning to look, he saw the tail end of a wild Hapaka darting through the branches. Even in this frozen, snow-covered land, there was life.

 

He marveled at the scenery. Ice encased the pine's branches, and they glistened and sparkled whenever the sunlight hit them. He’d heard about these snowy mountains, but he’d never seen them up close before. It was a far thing from the jungle, that was for sure, but the thing that amazed him most was how silent it was. The only sound was their feet crunching through the snow, and as he walked the feeling of being alone in the wilderness crept up upon him.

 

The party stopped for a quick lunch at a stream, which somehow managed to poke its way through the sheets of ice and snow. Hopping atop a large boulder that sat in the middle of the water, Takua pulled his pack off his back and opened it, only to realize that he was out of berries. He opened his mouth to ask if anyone had some to spare, but Kokani jerked his hand up, open-palmed, silencing everyone. It was a a wordless symbol, one that by now they all knew meant, be quiet, there's something here. Everyone froze.

 

Takua strained his ears, but to no avail. The four Matoran waited for a few silent minutes, no one moving a muscle.

 

"Hide!" Kokani hissed.

 

Thunk!

 

Takua watched as two weighted snares flew through the air, one wrapping itself around Raipu's ankles, the other thudding into a snowbank as Kokani deflected it with his staff. The Po-Matoran fell to the ground, his ankles suddenly bound, as Kokani looked up to the branches above them. A shrill cry pierced the air, and two beings dropped down from the trees, bearing scimitars.

 

"Kryll!"

 

The monsters were easily two heads taller than Kokani, the tallest of the Matoran, and their muscles rippled underneath their armor: one wore silver, and the other wore bronze. They both had emerald green eyes, which shone out brightly underneath their helmets.

 

Takua whipped out his blade, ready to defend himself. The monsters attacked, the bronze one tackling Kokani, and the silver running toward Takua. With a swift move, Kokani ducked and kicked the Kryll's legs out from under it. It fell to the ground and Kokani slashed with his blade, managing to cut into the Kryll’s shoulder as it rolled to the side.The smaller, silver one whipped his blade at Takua, who managed to parry a few attacks, but would have succumbed to it if Jaka hadn't jumped on it from behind. With a sharp elbow, the Kryll threw him off in an instant, and once again went on the offensive. Knowing he couldn’t outfight the Kryll, Takua turned and ran. It growled and chased after him.

 

Takua didn’t get very far. He had just made it to the other side of the stream when he slipped on a patch of ice and fell, face first into the snow. As he tried to get back up, he felt the Kryll grab him around the ankle. Struggling to free himself, Takua kicked the warrior in the face, bloodying its right eye, but only managing to anger it. It grabbed his other leg and pulled him back as he scratched at the snow for something to grab onto. Suddenly, the other Kryll yelled out.

 

“Nilum!”

 

The Kryll let go of Takua at the sound of its name, and looked up only a second too late. Kokani’s armored foot slammed down on the it’s outstretched arms, and Takua shuddered at the bone crunching snap it made. It howled in pain as Takua got back up to his feet. He clutched the Atouri and winced as Kokani lifted his blade and shoved it into the Kryll’s stomach. Blood splattered the snow.

 

Takua looked at the scene. The bronze Kryll stood on the other side of the stream, breathing heavily as blood seeped from wounds on its shoulder and leg. It looked stunned at what had just happened, and its mandibles clicked twice before it hissed, and ran off into the trees.

 

The silver Kryll looked up at them, coughing up blood as it struggled to breath. Its arms lay outstretched above its head, mangled and broken where Kokani had caught them with his boot. Calmly, the Ko-Matoran knelt down.

 

"Who sent you?" he demanded.

 

The Kryll wheezed and coughed up more blood, but didn’t say anything.

 

"I know you understand me,” he said, no emotion in his voice. “Did Saku sent you? How did you find us?"

 

It clicked its mandibles as it opened its mouth. In a scratchy voice it spoke up. “You may have beaten me, Kokani, but you cannot escape him.”

 

“Who?” Kokani asked.

 

“His beast is searching for you.” It wheezed and sputtered for a second. “It’s here, in the mountains.”

 

“What beast? Tell me.”

 

The Kryll’s toothed jaw cracked into a smile as it closed its eyes. “You really have no idea…” It exhaled, turning its held to rest against the snow beneath it. It struggled, lightly coughing for a moment, until finally, it stopped breathing.

 

Takua looked at Kokani, still stunned from what had just happened. Only now was the fire fading from the Ko-Matoran’s eyes. He fought with a ferocity and brutality that Takua had only heard of in stories. It should’ve set him at ease, knowing they had such a powerful friend, but to be honest, it scared him. There was more to Kokani than met the eye, but his stoic Akaku gave away nothing.

 

Takua stared at the Kryll’s mangled body. "You killed him..."

 

Kokani went over to his pack and pulled out a rag. Calmly, he wiped his blade clean. “You expected something else?”

 

Takua wasn’t sure what troubled him about the situation. He wasn’t used to this. He was from the city, a place where one’s biggest worry was figuring out what to do on a weekend. But now he stood here, on the banks of a bloodstained creek, just after having his life saved once again by this ruthless, quiet, Ko-Matoran. “I don’t know what I expected,” he said.

 

They walked back to the other side of the creek, where Jaka was bent over Raipu, helping him with the snare. The forest was, once again, silent. Even the bubbling stream seemed to try and hush itself.

 

Raipu groaned and sat up as Jaka cut through the rope with his dagger. His head had hit the ground hard from his fall, and he looked around, still a bit dazed, but Kokani looked him over and concluded that he would be alright. He would probably have a headache for a few days thought. Everyone had cuts and bruises, but overall they were still in good shape. Kokani spoke up again.

 

“You three need to learn to fight,” he said, staring at his companions. “But for now we have to move. The one that escaped might be back.”

 

They gathered up their things and followed Kokani once more along the trail. They crossed the stream and Takua’s eyes were automatically drawn to the Kryll’s body, lying on a mound of bloody snow. He stopped and thought as the other three walked passed him, and he called out to Kokani.

 

“Are we going to bury him?” He wasn’t sure whether to call the Kryll a ‘him’ or an ‘it.’

 

Kokani looked back for a moment. “We still have a lot of ground to cover today, Takua.”

 

Takua knew what that meant. Feeling strange, and maybe a little guilty, he averted his eyes from the scene and followed Kokani, up into the mountains.


Edited by ZOMBI3S, Apr 09 2017 - 01:56 PM.

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#16 Offline ZOMBI3S

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Posted Sep 12 2012 - 06:33 PM

Chapter 4 - The Wastes

 

 

As they traveled up and over the countless peaks, Takua soon found he was exhausted. Kokani had them up at the crack of dawn, and they climbed the snow-swept rocks for the majority of the day. It seemed like they were always going up, higher and higher into the mountains, but whenever they would reach the top of a ridge, there was always a larger one waiting ahead. When the Ko-Matoran decided to make camp for the night, no one ever argued. Takua, Jaka and Raipu would collapse into the snow, their legs sore and their shoulders rubbed raw from carrying their heavy packs.

 

But even then they weren’t allowed to rest. After a quick meal Kokani had them up again, sparring with sticks and wooden poles. They took turns attacking each other, and Takua always dreaded when he went up against Kokani. No one could ever land a hit on their guide, and he always had a fresh supply of welts and bruises for the three young Matoran.

 

Such was their routine, day in and day out, and eventually it wasn't so bad. As time passed the traveling got easier. Their legs strengthened, and Takua learned how to adjust his armor so his pack wouldn’t rub him. His lungs grew accustomed to the thin mountain air, and he found himself blocking more of Kokani’s blows when they sparred. He and Jaka found a dry humor in the fact that there was always a taller mountain, and they figured that one day they would come to a summit and find that they stood on top of the world. It was a stretch, but it helped to have something to think about as they trudged through the snow. Raipu, however, never joined in when they joked. The Po-Matoran kept to himself for the most part, only doing what he had to to keep moving on. Takua tried to include him as best he could, but Raipu seemed stuck in a melancholy mood, for whatever reason.

 

The Rahi of the area shied away from them, and they saw nothing of the beasts that had attacked Le-Koro. The knowledge that they were being hunted was like an itch in the back of their minds, ignorable at times, but never going away. Always, they were on the watch for Kryll, especially the bronze one with emerald eyes, who would no doubt want to avenge its companion.They were in the heart of Ko-Wahi now, and they sat on the frozen cliffs that were close to Ko-Koro. The fire that cooked their breakfast burned small, as fuel was hard to come by. To their right was a sheer drop-off into a swirling abyss of mist, and to their left lay the wastes. The steps that would eventually lead them to the city were just visible in the distance, etched into the cliff side by Ko-Matoran carvers ages ago.

 

Takua awoke to the shivering cold. He had heard something. A thump. He looked around their igloo and found only Kokani and Jaka awake, cooking their morning meal. Raipu still slept against the far wall. Their light and heat stones helped to make the room homier, but it didn’t help the fact that it was made of snow, and, while comfortable to Kokani, was freezing to them.

 

“Did you hear something?” he asked drowsily. Kokani and Jaka looked over at him.

 

Kokani lifted a hand and the two were quiet. He looked at the small opening at the top of their dome and listened. The only sound was Raipu’s steady breathing, and the wind outside.

 

“It’s probably the wind,” Kokani concluded. “But be on your guard, large Rahi roam freely out here in the wastes.”

 

Jaka began to hand out their morning meal, which consisted of a lump of fish and some type of mountain herb. Takua touched Raipu on the shoulder to wake him up. They began their meal in silence.

 

With a small ice pick, Kokani began to cut his way out of the igloo, carrying under his arm a small telescope he had produced from his pack. Every once and a while he would go out before dawn and watch the morning stars, as if he was looking for something. Takua watched him slowly disappear through the hole he had made, and decided to follow. Taking his breakfast with him, he threw on his coat and crawled outside. By the time he made it through the thick snow walls, Kokani was already gazing at the sky.

 

Takua waited a few moments before speaking. “What do you look for up there anyway?”

 

His reply was short. “All Ko-Matoran seek to understand the ancient Prophecies,” he said, as if that answered the question.

 

“Do the stars change so fast that you have to look at them as often as you do?”

 

Kokani glanced at him, apparently annoyed by his ignorance. He turned his gaze back to the telescope before speaking again. “There seems to be a new prophesy, one I have not heard of before. It foretells the coming of…others, though whom I do not know.”

 

Takua pondered this for a moment. He knew he could only ask so many things until all he got was ‘You ask too many questions,’ from Kokani. “Do they really tell the future?" he asked.

 

Kokani pointed up at the Red Star, which shone a bit brighter than the others. "The Red Star is the key. It takes many hours of interpretation and contemplation to understand its teachings, but yes. Nuju has always followed its wisdom, and, as far as I know, he has not been disappointed.”

 

Takua thought about this, remembering the strange old Matoran who had stopped him on the way back from Talim's house. He could hear his treespeak now: the stars will guide you....

 

"Kokani, who wrote the Prophecies?"

 

Kokani studied the stars for a moment before answering. "Beings greater than us."

 

Takua looked up at the early morning sky as he thought about it. The minutes passed, an slowly, the stars began to dim as clouds rolled over them. Kokani packed his telescope away and went back inside their igloo. “Its time to go,” he said. “Many Rahi find now as the best time to hunt.”

 

They gathered up their packs and put away everything they had gotten out for the night. A short while later, they left the small igloo and were on their way, heading for the rocky stairs in the distance. The wind began to pick up and more snow fell, quickly reducing their visibility to a few yards.

 

Takua heard a thump, just like the one that had woken him up. “I heard that noise again,” he announced to the group.

 

Kokani looked back and surveyed the land around them. Something caught his eye in the distance behind them, but all he could make out was a dark blur.

 

“We have to hurry,” he said. “Something’s following us, and it looks like Rahi. We should be safe once we reach the stairs, any beast large enough to be a threat wouldn't be able to follow us there.”

 

He turned back around to a horrible site. A gigantic Muaka towered over them, poised and ready to strike.


Edited by ZOMBI3S, Apr 03 2017 - 10:56 PM.

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#17 Offline ZOMBI3S

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Posted Sep 16 2012 - 04:38 PM

Chapter 5 - Into the Abyss

 

 

The beast roared, echoing into the great chasm that lay beside them. Kokani raised his ice pick in defense, yelling to the other three.

 

"Run!"

 

Takua and the others did as they were told, scrambling through the snow as the great beast struck. With one swipe of its paw, Kokani was sent hurtling through the air, landing with a soft thud into a nearby snowdrift. Relentless, the Rahi lunged at him again, jaws gaping open. Its head shot forward before Kokani had a chance to move, and Takua gasped in horror as the beast's teeth clamped around the Ko-Matoran. Its jaws squeezed tighter and tighter, but it only took a second for Kokani to react, slamming his ice pick into roof of the monster’s mouth. It dropped him in an instant, howling in pain.

 

Takua spun around, hesitating as Kokani took the opportunity to sprint toward him. His nerves on edge, he looked past the howling Rahi, searching the scene for something else. He'd seen another shape through the whirling snow earlier. What had happened to it?

 

Kokani caught up with them just as Jaka and Raipu had started to push their way through another snowdrift. “Hurry!” he yelled. “We won't be able to outrun it for long!”

 

But Another roar sounded as the snow in front of them exploded, releasing a giant plume of white. Another one of the beasts charged headfirst into the Matoran, knocking them all to the ground.

 

"Two!?" Takua yelled, his face still covered in snow.

 

"That must have been the one that was following us!" Kokani concluded.

 

Trapped between the two giant Rahi, the four stood with their backs to each other, flinching as the beasts clawed at the air. The Muaka prowled around them, slowly, intelligently, pushing them toward the edge of the chasm. The beasts snarled and roared and bared their teeth, sure that the prey would soon be theirs.

 

"What do we do?" Takua hissed as he took a step backwards. The wind picked up, catching a chunk of snow behind him, carrying it over the edge of the edge of the chasm and into the abyss. The sound of it crashing against the ground never came. "Mata Nui that’s deep!" he cursed, craning his head to see behind him.

 

“Takua, run to the left and distract that one,” Kokani said, pointing to the smaller of the Muaka. “If you can hold its attention for long enough, the three of us should be able to take down the other.”

 

Takua looked at Kokani in shock. “Are you serious? I have a dagger. What am I supposed to do against that thing? It’s huge!”

 

“Are you going to do it or not!?” Kokani yelled.

 

"Look out!"

 

One of the Muaka lunged forward, missing the Matoran but launching up a plume of snow in front of Jaka. The blast knocked him off balance, and he stumble backward until he teetered on the cliff edge. Kokani’s arm whipped out just in time, grabbing him by his chest armor before he could fall.

 

Takua let out a deep breath, psyching himself up. It’s now or never…

 

“Hey!” He yelled, tearing off along the chasm's edge, grabbing a handful of snow as he went. He packed into an icy snowball and threw it at the Muaka. “Come and get me, you stupid cat!”

 

The Muaka turned its head and roared, just as the snowball hit it in the nose. It scratched itself with its paw, sneezed, and roared again. Another snowball hit it, this time under the eye.

 

"Yeah! Take that!" Takua yelled as he slowly gained ground on the Rahi. "And that!"

 

His snowball hit the Muaka square in the eye, and its fierce growl stopped for a moment. Takua detected a hint of a whimper from the beast.

 

"That's what I thought! Taste a little Le-Koro in that? Well, savor it!"

 

The beast whipped its head around and bellowed in Takua's face. Hot, smelly air enveloped him as drops of spittle hit his mask.

 

"Mata Nui."

 

It swiped at Takua with its giant forearm, clipping his side and sending him flying through the air until he thudded to a stop in powdery snow. Wincing, he turned himself over to see the beast poised and ready to claw at him again. Takua rolled at the last second as the giant paw thudded into the ground next to him. He rolled over and grabbed onto its arm with all his strength, hoping it might help him survive. The beast raised its claw, carrying Takua with it. He kept his hold as the Muaka tried to shake him off. Faster and faster it shook, jarring Takua's brain from all the sudden movement. Up and down, up and down, all in a matter of seconds.

 

Finally it tired, and Takua took his chance. He scrambled up the arm and crawled onto the beasts back, grabbing its ears to steady himself. It ran in circles and jumped around, trying yet again to throw Takua off, but the Le-Matoran’s grip held. He yanked on the left ear to help steady himself, and the giant Rahi yelped and turned to the left.

 

A thought came into his head. It was crazy, but what else could he do? It was worth a shot.

 

Takua yanked on the beast’s other ear, forcing it to turn and run in his desired direction. He aimed the Muaka’s head at the other Muaka, still a number of yards away. The beast tried to turn around, but Takua yanked on its ears again, causing it to yelp and continue forward. They got closer and closer to the chasm and the other beast, which was now surrounded by the members of Takua’s party. Takua saw Kokani turn around, and an expression of pure astonishment crossed the Ko-Matoran’s mask.

 

“Get out of the way!” he yelled.

 

The three Matoran jumped out of Takua’s path just before his Muaka crashed into the other. The beasts scrambled for a footing as their momentum pushed them through the snow and they tumbled over the edge. Takua jumped off his steed and slid to a stop in the powdery snow, just a couple feet from the drop-off.

 

He heard a far away bellow as the Muaka fell into the mist.

 

Takua sat in the snow, breathing heavily as he gazed out into the open air, in shock that his stupid idea had actually worked. After a moment, he looked over his shoulder. His companions stood behind him, still stunned.

 

“That was insane!” Jaka spoke up, a big smile forming on his face. “You really are crazy!”

 

Even Raipu couldn’t stay quiet. “Takua, you…” he let out, at a loss for words. He stumbled for the right words “...that’s a new one.”

 

Takua let out a sigh, still trying to settle his nerves. He pushed himself to his feet, and his side split with pain from where the Rahi had swiped him. Looking down, he saw three deep gashes running across his lower torso. Gingerly, he pressed his fingers against the wound. They came back dripping with blood.

 

“Oh, that’s not good," he winced.

 

But then, the roar of a Muaka sounded. It echoed around them, entirely too close to have come from the bottom of the chasm. Everyone froze, looking around to see where the sound had come from, but they seemed to be alone. Takua swallowed, and still holding his side, walked hesitantly to the chasm's edge, and looked down. The second Muaka had dug its claws into the side of the cliff, suspending it in the air. But the rock was giving way to its weight, and it wouldn’t last long.

 

“Get away from the edge,” Takua said between breaths.

 

“What’s going on?” Jaka asked.

 

Takua started running. “Get away from the edge! Now!”

 

But it was too late. The rock gave way, destroying the support for the land they now walked on. The earth cracked beneath their feet and fell apart. Suddenly, they were falling, falling into the abyss below.

 

Chunks of rock and dirt whizzed past Takua’s face as he fell. The wind whipped at him as he desperately looked for something to hold on to, but there was nothing. He saw his companions falling with him, and he heard Kokani yell something.

 

“…ice picks!” was all he could make out.

 

It clicked in his head and he whipped out his pick and slammed it into the side of the cliff.

 

He let out a yell as the rock repelled his pick, jarring his arm. Pain split through his side. He was falling too fast! He tried again, only to be repelled once more. Looking down, he thought he could make out the bottom below him. He was running out of time.

 

He tried again, and this time he hit a patch of earth. It cut into the cliff side, almost ripping the handle from his grasp as it did so. The pick tore up roots and soil as Takua's momentum forced it down. His fall was slowing.

 

Ching!

 

Again the ice pick hit solid rock, and Takua cried out as it was ripped from his hands. The pick fell with him as he continued his unimaginably long fall, and as he spun around in the air he caught a glimpse of the earth rapidly rising to meet him. Fear gripped him and desperately he groped for the pick falling beside him. Finally, he laid his hands on it and once again slammed it into the side of the wall. It was dirt. Please, Mata Nui...

 

His fall began to slow, but now it was a race against time. The earth below him was close now, too close. The pine trees were all too detailed to Takua's eyes, and the frozen lake below him wouldn't do much to cushion his fall. Chunks of soil were thrown at Takua's face as his pick cut a trench in the cliff side. The wind calmed in his ears as he began to fall at a reasonable rate, only one hundred feet from the ground.Takua began to panic. It was too close. Fifty feet from the ground, and his pick was starting to slip out of the chasm wall. Ever so slowly it was pushed out by the underlying rock, all too soon.

 

"No. Come on..." He quietly told the pick.

 

It hit a rock, and the pick slipped out into open air.

 

"No!"

 

Takua fell the remaining twenty feet into the frozen lake, crashed through a thin layer of ice, and plunged into the subzero temperatures of the water below.


Edited by ZOMBI3S, Apr 03 2017 - 11:47 PM.

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#18 Offline ZOMBI3S

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Posted Sep 21 2012 - 02:49 PM

Chapter 6 - Lost

 

 

The temperature shock alone almost killed Takua. His limbs froze up and he was barely able to move, let alone swim. He cried out, releasing a stream of bubbles that floated upward in the dark blue-green water. Using all his strength he swam towards hole he had made in the ice. His body screamed at him, but he was almost there. He would make it.

 

Then, just feet from the surface, he was yanked back down. A muffled bellow sounded through the murky depths as he was pulled, dragged away from the light that streamed through the ice above. The blackness below was disorienting, and he could barely make out the drowning Muaka that thrashed beneath him. It pulled on his pack, and Takua tried to hold air in his lungs as he wriggled one arm free of his pack's straps.

 

He let out another burst of bubbles as he was pulled to the side by the sinking beast. His pack suddenly tightened, and he couldn’t move his other arm. He was caught! Panic set in as he sank lower and lower. His hole in the ice looked like a small moon in the sky above him, dwarfed in size by a much larger one created by the Rahi. He could feel his strength slipping away, stolen by the freezing water.

 

He pulled out his dagger. Everything seemed to move in slow motion as his shivering hands tried to cut the strap. He fumbled with the fabric, wishing that he could do it faster, but his fingers were numb and clumsy; he could hardly control them. Eventually, he forced the strap and dagger together, and with a surge of energy, cut himself free.

 

Takua’s mind was slowing. His lungs burned, the air inside them running out, and the surface was so far away. He couldn’t feel his limbs anymore. He pushed himself toward the light, but the closer he got, the slower his body moved. Spots flew in front of his eyes, and he grew dizzy. The urge to sleep crept up upon him, but he couldn’t give up. It couldn’t end like this…

 

His lungs screamed at him to breathe, but he couldn’t. He swam harder and harder, but his arms had no strength left. The water surrounded him and forced his mouth open. It poured into his lungs and he knew he was drowning, but he couldn’t fight it. He closed his eyes, and the Atouri thudded against his chest.

 

Thump-thp.

 

And suddenly he was strong. Energy poured into him as he opened his eyes and rushed for the surface. He was closer now. He was so close…

 

Takua gasped as he pulled himself out of the water. There he collapsed, coughing up water as the frigid air returned to him. Shivering and panting on the ice, he caught one last glimpse of the Muaka, slowly sinking into the water below, motionless.

 

He lay there for the better part of ten minutes, utterly exhausted, until reality yet again set in. He wasn’t out of this yet. He had to get warm, or the winds of Ko-Wahi would claim him soon enough. Slowly, he willed himself to get up and made for the shore of the frozen lake. He clutched his dagger as the Atouri hung around his neck. They were the only items he had left. Everything in his pack was gone.

 

Insulate. He told himself, remembering the survival tip Kokani had randomly mentioned a few days ago. He stumbled around the shore of the frozen lake, gathering up pine needles and moss and whatever else he could find. Once he was satisfied with his haul, he made his way to a large pine just beyond the edge of the lake, and set about digging himself a small burrow at its base. The tree's low-hanging branches offered shelter from the wind, and soon enough Takua had curled up inside it, covering himself in a blanket of needles and moss.

 

It wasn't comfortable, but it should work. He could already feel the warmth returning to his fingers. The silent forest enveloped him, and now that his first priority was covered, he had time to think.

 

Where are the others?

 

He had seen everyone falling when the ground gave way, but now he was alone. That meant they had all managed to cling onto the side of the cliff, except for him. Looking around, all he saw was the frozen lake, the lush pines surrounding it, and a tiny waterfall flowing out of the cliff side. He was alone.

 

He had lost his pack. He had no food, no coat, and no way to make it to Ko-Koro. He hugged himself, rubbing his fingers against his upper arms as he tried to stay warm. He sighed, and looked up at the sky. It was shrouded in mist.

 

Ko-Wahi sucks.

 

 

~~~

 

 

Jaka and Kokani pulled on the rope one last time, and Raipu's face appeared above the lip of the rock ledge. They helped the Po-Matoran up, who promptly collapsed.

 

"I want to go home," he gasped. "That was horrible."

 

"Sorry about your luck," Jaka said as he grabbed the terrified Matoran's hand and pulled him to his feet. "But you're stuck with us."

 

The three continued down the narrow path etched into the cliff side, slowly making their way down in hopes of catching a sign of Takua. It was narrow, windy, and one false step could send them falling into the chasm, but at least there was a path. Otherwise, they could have spent days trying to find a way down into the canyon.

 

Jaka kicked a pebble into the mist. He had been lucky. After the ground had given way, he found himself panicking until he landed with a painful thud on an outcropping. Kokani had been hanging from his ice pick just above him, so the two reconnected and searched for the other members of their party. It took them almost an hour to reach Raipu, who had also succeeded in the ice pick maneuver. Of Takua, however, there was still no sign.

 

Mata Nui, please be alright…

 

The path switched back and forth at random intervals. Sometimes they only walked a couple of feet before turning around again, and yet other times it seemed as though they had walked for a mile and stayed at the same elevation. The scenery was bleak. The blue-grey walls of the cliffs surrounded them, only stopping where they faded into the swirling mist. Nothing else was visible. The whirling blizzard of the morning had dissipated, replaced by a light, gentle snowfall.

 

"Takua!" Jaka called out, desperate for a reply, but only his echo answered him.

 

Their long, quiet walk continued well throughout the day, without any sign of their friend. By the time dusk was upon them, they were close to the bottom of the chasm. The tops of pine trees poked through the mist like fish poking their heads out of water. As there was no ground large enough for a camp, they continued walking into the night until they set foot in the snow covered forest.

 

Kokani held up a lightstone to illuminate the small clearing they found themselves in. "We should make camp here. We won't be able to find anything during the night," he said.

 

Raipu dropped his pack on the ground and sat on it. "How are we going to find anything at all? If Takua's even alive, he could be miles away."

 

"I'm hoping he's smart enough not to move around. And it shouldn't be too hard to locate two Muaka carcasses. They tend to smell," Kokani replied, rolling out his bedding at the foot of a tree. Jaka and Raipu did the same.

 

A thought popped into Jaka's head. It was a little optimistic, but it certainly couldn't hurt. "Maybe if we make a fire and set up our lightstones, he'll see the light and come find us."

 

"Assuming he's alive," Raipu grumbled to himself.

 

But Jaka heard the Po-Matoran, and shot him a cold glare. "He's alive."

 

Kokani agreed to the idea, and they all got up to gather wood. Soon, a small fire was blazing and their lightstones were propped up on sticks, an obvious beacon if anyone was nearby to see it. And so they waited without a word. The minutes ticked by, slowly, steadily, as the night crept on. A few moths came up and fluttered around the lights, before again disappearing into the dark sky. The moon rose through the mist above them, and the minutes turned to hours. Eventually, Raipu gave in to sleep, as did Kokani, and Jaka was left alone to wait for Takua's return.

 

He waited in the darkness, turning at every sound the forest made, hoping it would reveal the figure of Takua making his way through the branches. But it never happened. Eventually, his eyes began to close as well, and he took down the lightstones and kicked snow over the fire.

 

Please, Mata Nui, I don't want to lose any more.

 

He closed his eyes and lay down on his sleeping mat, allowing the mist to lull him to sleep. He was just about to enter a dream when he opened his eyes wide with fear and shock. The cold steel of a sharpened blade was pressed against his throat.

 

"Don't move," someone said behind him.


Edited by ZOMBI3S, Apr 04 2017 - 11:49 PM.

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#19 Offline ZOMBI3S

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Posted Sep 26 2012 - 09:05 PM

Chapter 7 - Hope From Shadow

 

 

Takua awoke in the middle of the night. It was cold, dark, and the air felt strange, as though something wasn't quite right. He looked around and almost jumped, startled by what he saw.

 

A pair of orange eyes stared at him through the trees.

 

Takua tensed himself, ready to fend off an attack from some sort of beast. He waited on high alert, the seconds ticking by, but nothing came. He studied the eyes closer, and as he looked through the darkness, he thought he saw the outline of a Matoran.

 

"Hello?" he called out, unsure if he should welcome the figure or not. He gripped his dagger, just in case.

 

The Matoran motioned for him to follow. "Come."

 

"Who are you?"

 

The glowing orange eyes squinted, as if the Matoran was annoyed with him, and the figure turned around and to walk away through the forest. Its voice echoed for only a second before it disappeared between the black branches. "Are you going to come or not?"

 

Thinking quickly, Takua weighed his choices. Either he stayed here and risked nothing, or he followed the Matoran into the unknown. The Matoran could beat and rob him, but he had nothing of value anyway. Perhaps, just maybe, he could find out how to get to Ko-Koro!

 

"Wait! Come back!"

 

Takua ran in the direction the Matoran had went. He pushed past sticks and pine needles, scratching himself as he did. He ran as fast as he could, but somehow the dark figure was already very far ahead of him. He ran and he ran, weaving around massive pines and brambles, hurdling over boulders and crashing through brush, but still he could not catch the Matoran. In fact, it seemed as though he was losing ground. Takua burst into a small clearing and squinted. The figure was nowhere to be found.

 

"Come. This way!" The Matoran popped up from the brush in front of him.

 

Again Takua gave chase. Through the woods he ran, and yet still he could not keep up with the dark figure. Panting, his legs burning, he finally pushed his way out of the forest. The great wall of the chasm opened up before him, granting passageway into a smaller crevice. Looking into it, he saw a lightstone sitting atop a rather large boulder. The Matoran stood with his back to Takua, facing the lightstone.

 

"I found this," the figure's voice echoed among the rocks. “Come, take it.”

 

Takua looked around him. The plant life of the forest stopped the moment it entered the crevice, leaving it cold and barren. It was eerie, and the Matoran was strange, but he could use the lightstone to signal for his friends. Cautiously, he walked into the jumble of rocks.

 

The sky was pitch black above him, and the farther he moved into the crevice the more he couldn’t help but feel that something was wrong. It seemed as though the world had forgotten this place, as if something was off-balance. The black rocks that loomed above were menacing, and as he approached the lightstone he grew nervous. Darkness ruled this place; life did not exist here.

 

Takua stepped into the light. The boulder the lightstone sat on was almost as tall as him, and he could barely see the Matoran on the other side of it. But still, the figure beckoned him froward.

 

"Go ahead. Take it.”

 

He hesitated, then slowly placed his hand on the lightstone. Its yellow glow was split by his fingers, casting long shadows on the rocks. Gripping it tight, he raised it high above his head, trying to illuminate the darkness, but the shadows refused to reveal their secrets. He couldn't get over how the crevice felt. "Why did you take me here?"

 

The figure chuckled, a deep menacing sound that Takua had heard before. "I only wanted..." it trailed off as it stepped into the light, its figure suddenly twisting and reforming. There was a whirl of shadow, and in a second Saku stood before Takua, smiling as his orange eyes glowed in the night. “…to talk.”

 

And a huge bellow enveloped the crevice. Takua stumbled backward as the roar pounded his ears, and a gigantic, foul Rahi appeared out of the shadows. It rose up behind Saku, towering above him as it slammed its claw into the ground behind Takua, blocking off his escape. The sheer force of the blow knocked him to the ground.

 

Flipping over and staring upward in shock, Takua was amazed that such a beast could remain hiding anywhere. It was a foul creature, larger than anything he had ever seen. Like a dragon, but warped and twisted, with the head of a Kane-Ra bull. Its body seemed to be that of a Muaka, its arms cut from a Tarakava. Giant wings of the Nui-Rama fluttered at its back, and the stinger of a Nui-Jaga tipped its powerful tail. It was, in all essence of the word, a monster.

 

And Takua recognized it A beast only whispered of in the tales of old, the tales that used to keep him up at night, shivering with fear.

 

The Rahi Nui.

 

Desperately, Takua scrambled to his feet and tried to run, only to be knocked down by another tremendous blow. The Rahi Nui's claws closed around his body. He squirmed and clawed at the ground, motivated by instinct and fear to get away, but it was no use. The Rahi lifted him up until he once again faced Saku, now standing atop the beasts' head. He wriggled as he tried to get to his dagger, but the Rahi’s claws clutched him tighter and he couldn’t move. The beast had him.

 

"You are in my realm now, Takua."

 

Takua had nothing to say as he stared into the face of Talim’s killer. He hated the Toa, but he was also so afraid. The beast’s claws tightened around him as he clutched the Atouri around his neck. Wincing, he only managed a few words. “You’re not getting the stone…”

 

But Saku smiled. "Come now, Takua. I'm asking you politely," he said, his deep voice reverberating in the Matoran’s ears. "I'm not like the Makuta. I can be reasonable, I can be civilized. We can talk this out."

 

Takua held his ground, repeating himself "You're not getting the stone."

 

Saku sighed, trying his best to be patient with Takua. He cocked his head. “What is it that you want?”

 

Takua stared at the Toa, unsure of what to say.

 

"I can make you rich. I can make you famous. Anything you want, Takua, and I can make it happen. Just give me the stone, say the word, and it’s yours," Saku tempted.

 

Takua looked at him, his eyes narrowing. The Toa was actually offering to make a deal with him. At first he was simply confused, but the more he thought about it he was insulted. After everything Saku had done to him? Anger flared up in Takua’s eyes, and he clenched his jaw. “You have nothing I could ever want.”

 

“Are you still sour about everything that happened in Le-Koro?” Saku asked. “I am terribly sorry about all of that by the way, but...” he trailed off, stopping to inspect his blade for a moment. “Business is business, you know.”

 

Takua couldn’t take the Toa’s taunts. “You killed her!” he spat out, his rage getting the best of him. “She did nothing to you, and you killed her in cold blood!”

 

And Saku’s eyes twinkled behind the Kraahkan. “So that’s what you want, is it?”

 

The Toa’s response caught him off guard. “...what?”

 

Saku leaned in closer as the great beast breathed beneath him. “Talim, wasn’t it? What if I told you that I could bring her back?”

 

Stunned, Takua didn’t know what to say. He clutched the Atouri against his chest and stared at the Mask of Shadows. Was Saku telling the truth? A rush of hope and excitement flickered through his brain before he forced himself back to reality. He had to be lying. “Talim’s dead. No one can bring her back.”

 

The Toa laughed. "Dead? No, she's not dead. Makuta thrives on destruction. It is his essence; it is his being. He is the Void, and anything that enters it becomes a part of him.”

 

Takua stared at him, not entirely sure he understood. “…what do you mean?”

 

“It is easy to kill someone, but that doesn’t destroy their spirit. The hearts and minds of the beings in this world give him much greater strength. As an agent of Makuta, I didn’t kill your friend, Takua. I simply…” he paused, thinking of the right word. “…took her from you. Her body sleeps, lost without its spirit, but I assure you she is very much alive”

 

Takua’s heart pounded in his chest. He didn’t know what to think. He was astounded, amazed even, but the thought scared him all the same. “Where is she?” he demanded.

 

“Not in a place either of us can go.”

 

Takua looked down at the Atouri, flitting his gaze between it and the Toa of Shadow. “You could bring her back?”

 

Saku smirked. “Just give me the stone and say the word.”

 

He could barely wrap his mind around the fact. If his time in the mountains had done anything, it had helped him come to terms with everything that had happened. Talim and Matau were gone, never to come back. He’d been forced to accept that, but now Saku had shattered everything. He could see her face now, lighting up just as it did when they were standing in the tall grass, watching the fireworks on the Spring Solstice. Everything he had felt then, all his emotions, it all came rushing back to him, even though he'd thought it had been buried with the snows of Ko-Wahi. The heat of the jungle was melting through the cold he'd grown accustomed to. He felt the Atouri beating against his chest.

 

Thump-thp.

 

“You could really bring her back?” he said, still stunned.

 

Saku smiled. "Only if that's what you want."

 

Takua was silent for a moment, lost in his own thoughts and memories. “How do I know you’re not lying?”

 

“You’ll just have to trust me,” Saku said calmly, his voice smooth, like silk. “You won’t have another chance quite like this, that I can guarantee.” He held out his hand, palm up, offering it to the Le-Matoran. “What do you say, Takua?”

 

Takua thought for a moment, and then slowly unhooked the Atouri from his neck. He had no reason to trust Saku, but somehow he knew the Toa was telling the truth. He held the stone in his palm, looked Saku in the eye, and smiled. He knew what he had to do.


Edited by ZOMBI3S, Apr 09 2017 - 12:04 PM.

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#20 Offline ZOMBI3S

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Posted Oct 02 2012 - 10:49 AM

Chapter 8 - Duty

 

 

Talim wasn't gone after all. She was waiting for him, somewhere, and this was his chance to save her. Clutching the Atouri with white knuckles he took a deep breath and raised his hand. He wanted to see her so bad. Conflicting emotions ran through him, but he had already made his decision. He knew what he had to do.

 

I’m sorry Talim.

 

Takua plunged the Atouri into the Rahi Nui’s claw. The pointed end of the stone cut through the beast’s flesh like a dagger, and it let out a roar as it dropped him instinctively. Takua pulled the stone out as he fell to the ground, and drops of the Rahi’s blood splattered his mask. He landed on his back with a thud, and sprinted for the forest as Saku yelled after him.

 

“Takua don’t be a fool!”

 

The giant claws crashed into the ground in front of him, blocking his escape. He whipped around to see Saku approaching, holding his bladed staff. The giant head of the Rahi Nui bared its teeth behind him, growling. Without thinking, he ran at the Rahi Nui's claws and jumped, a desperate attempt to hurdle them, but they moved upward and he was swatted to the ground like a fly. He found Saku's blade at his throat, but quickly he slammed it away with his dagger and sprang to his feet, ready to fight.

 

“I tried to reason with you, know that,” Saku glared.

 

He lunged with his staff, giving Takua barely enough time to step aside and parry the attack. Adrenaline pumped through the Matoran’s body as he ran to get in range with his dagger. He swiped at the Toa his blade whistling through the air as Saku sidestepped and elbowed him in the side of the mask. Takua stumbled back, took a kick to the stomach, and fell back down to the ground. Saku’s blade once again froze above his throat.

 

"I’ll give you one more chance," the Toa said. “Drop your weapon.”

 

Takua's dagger clattered to the ground.

 

"Give me the Atouri."

 

Takua stared up, unyielding. “No.”

 

Saku leaned in close and fire erupted in his eyes. His calm, deep voice was gone now, replaced by one that spoke quick with anger. "Or how about I crush your little friend's spirit so she can never come back? How about I kill your friends and give their mutilated worthless bodies to the Kryll?" he threatened. "That's all they are: worthless. All of your kind are worthless.” He kicked Takua in the side, opening up the wounds he had received from the Muaka. The Matoran cried out in pain. “A pathetic race of cowards and hypocrites who run to Toa every time something goes wrong. You don't deserve the right to live—"

 

There was a sudden whish as something flew through the air, and Saku's weapon was jerked away from Takua’s throat as the Toa stumbled back. The Matoran looked up to see an arrow sticking out of Saku’s shoulder, and a small amount of blood oozing from underneath his armor.

 

Many footsteps thudded as a group of about three dozen Matoran ran out of the forest behind them, firing their bows at Saku and the Rahi Nui. The beast roared and lashed out at the soldiers, flicking the bodies it hit across the ground as if they were toothpicks. One Matoran offered her hand to Takua.

 

"Are you all right?"

 

Takua took the hand, noticing it belonged to a Ga-Matoran, the only one in the group. The claw marks on his side were bleeding now, and he winced at the sight of it. "For now. Who are you?"

 

"Friends," the female Matoran ran off to aid in the battle.

 

Bolts of shadow whipped through the air as Saku retaliated, and the massive beast behind him pounded the ground at the tiny Matoran. Arrows whizzed past Takua, who stood in the middle of it all, wondering what had just happened. Snapping out of his stupor, he grabbed his dagger off the ground, and took cover behind a large boulder.

 

It was only then that he could reflect on the decision he had made. Talim was alive, somehow, and he had chosen not to save her. But he had a duty: Matau had entrusted him to keep the stone safe. The Turaga had died protecting him, and as much as he wanted to see Talim, he knew deep down that she wouldn’t have had it any other way.

 

He clutched the stone to his chest. I’ll find another way Talim, I promise.

 

"Retreat!" One of the Matoran called. "Fall back!"

 

Almost instantly the Matoran stopped firing their arrows and ran for the forest. Takua followed their lead. Clutching his side as it split with pain, he stumbled through the foliage as other Matoran flew past him. He could hear the great beast roaring behind him as the ground shook with its footsteps, and he knew that Saku wasn’t going to give up easily.

 

He winced as a pine branch smacked into his wound, and he paused for a moment to catch his breath. He could hear trees crashing to the ground as the beast chased after him and the other Matoran, and the sounds were only getting closer. He willed himself to go faster, but his side split with every step, and it was the best he could do to travel at a slow limp.

 

“Le-Matoran, what are you doing!? We have to get out of here, fast!” a figure said behind him as it burst through a bramble patch.

 

Takua turned around to see the Ga-Matoran who had helped him up. "Where are we going!?" He asked as he pushed a branch out of face.

 

"Mata Nui, you’re not looking so good!" she said as she put her arm around Takua’s waist, helping him to stand up straight. “Come, this way! Hurry!”

 

The beast roared behind them, and although it wasn’t visible through the thick branches, it was obvious it was close. Takua welcomed the help from the Ga-Matoran, and together they ran through the forest. As they climbed over a large boulder he made the mistake of looking at his wound: blood oozed down his side, covering his hand and the Ga-Matoran’s arm in a red hue. It was worse than he thought.

 

Soon the forest was squeezed into a small passage through the canyon, and the trees gave way to a clearing of snow. A pile of round shields lay there, and the Matoran accompanying them each grabbed one and jumped onto it, making their getaway as they sledded down the steep decline of the passage.The Ga-Matoran grabbed one and hopped onto it.

 

“Get on!”

 

A tree crashed down behind them, and they could hear the roar of the Rahi Nui, even closer now. Takua limped over to the shield, clutching his side. The world seemed to spin around him as he stumbled, and he knew he was losing too much blood.

 

Thump! Thump! The great beast’s footsteps sounded as a Ko-Matoran burst into the clearing. Seeing Takua stumbling, the Matoran picked him up and placed him on the shield behind the Ga-Matoran. He heard him say something about how everyone else had already escaped, but for some reason he couldn’t quite make sense of it. His head was growing foggy.

 

“Hey!” Takua felt a gentle smack his cheeks. “Stay with us, Le-Matoran! You’re going to be alright!”

 

Another tree fell behind them, followed by a great roar.

 

“Go! Go! Go!” someone said as Takua felt the shield start to move. A sudden rush of dizziness hit him and his head slumped against the Ga-Matoran’s shoulder. His vision grew foggy.

 

They moved down the slope and the icy wind picked up. It blew against Takua’s face, and he tried his best to stay awake. He clutched the warm blood on his side as the rest of his body froze. He noticed the Ko-Matoran fly past them on his own shield, and the Ga-Matoran grabbed his arms and swung them around her waist.

 

“Stay with me, Le-Matoran!”

 

There was a crash of falling trees followed by a huge roar. Their shield wobbled and spun around, and the last thing Takua saw before his eyes closed was the Rahi Nui towering over them, roaring into the night sky.


Edited by ZOMBI3S, Apr 09 2017 - 01:54 PM.

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#21 Offline ZOMBI3S

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Posted Nov 02 2012 - 04:51 PM

Chapter 9 - Reunion

 

 

The world collapsed around Takua as he slipped in and out of consciousness. Chunks of rock and dust crashed into the snow as the Rahi Nui roared, shaking the very earth beneath him. The Ga-Matoran lay in the snow next to him, and with his blurry vision he saw her shield sliding down the slope without them. His eyes went black, and he entered the world of his dreams.

 

There was a temple. It sat at the center of a blackened crater, as a king would sit, overlooking an empty throne room. Silhouetted against the red sky, its grand exterior served as a beacon of hope for him as he walked the charred earth. His footsteps echoed as they hit the hard soil, but he knew he wasn't alone. Something was following him. He could feel it in the back of his mind. The beast was silent and dangerous, but Takua knew that if he could only make it to the top of the temple, he would find peace. Glancing over his shoulder, he saw a dark shape flit out of sight. The elaborately carved doors of the tower rose up before him, glinting of polished ivory and oak. He grasped one handle and pulled it open, straining to move the heavy door. Slowly, steadily, the dark insides of the temple opened up to him, and he quietly slipped inside.

 

Takua was wrenched back into the real world as he felt giant claws envelop him, lifting him into the air. He heard the Ga-Matoran screaming, followed by the solid thunk of an arrow piercing flesh. Blood splattered him, and the claws dropped him back into the cold snow. The shock of the fall sent his mind back into the dream.

 

He was running. It was coming after him, but what it was, he couldn’t tell. His lightstone only illuminated a few feet around him and the beast, no, the monster, could be hiding anywhere. He had to stay focused. He had to make it to the top of the tallest tower. It called him, and he yearned for whatever he would find there. A growl echoed around him, and he froze. Turning, he found the monster standing but a few feet in front of him, and he held his breath in fear. Slowly, it lurched toward him, its shoulders hunched over and its clawed feet thumping on the floor. Its arms hung carelessly at its sides as drool and blood dripped from its twisted fangs.

 

Excruciating pain awoke him, and he cried out into the night sky. Matoran were yelling now, and there was a loud explosion in the cliffs above him. The earth rumbled with the sound of an avalanche and he felt the light tap of the Ga-Matoran hitting his cheeks, telling him to stay with her. She was at his side, desperately trying to hold his wound together. Giant boulders thudded into the earth, sending great white plumes of snow into the air. He watched as a huge cascade of rock and snow smashed into the Rahi Nui. It stumbled and fell, pressed against the side of the cliff as the avalanche engulfed it. Hurried voices surrounded Takua and he felt someone pick him up. He was carried away from the chaos, away from the howling beast. Staring listlessly into the stars, he once again closed his eyes.

 

Unable to move, Takua could do nothing as he watched his nightmare advance towards him. Its long teeth widened in a horrible smile, and its bloodshot eyes bored into his soul. Petrified with fear, Takua stared back at it, and he came to a realization: he knew this beast. He had seen it before. Looking past the twisted fangs, he recognized its angular face. It was the Mask of Shadows.

 

Saku!

 

With a jolt he awoke, and everything was quiet now. Whoever held him trudged through the snow with purpose, traversing a wide plain as the sun just barely rose above the eastern mountains. The Ga-Matoran came into view, and she smiled at him. As his vision started to fade for the last time, he managed to look up. The off-white of Kokani’s Akaku met his gaze.

 

The Ko-Matoran nodded, and Takua closed his eyes. He didn’t wake as Kokani carried him through the snow and toward the great bridge of ice. He didn’t see the huge glaciers that surrounded Ko-Koro up ahead, and he didn’t notice when they passed through its gate. What he did know was that Kokani held him, and that he was safe.

 

 

~~~

 

 

Takua awoke to find himself laying in a wooden bed with fur blankets, not much different from the one at Kokani’s burrow. The black, stone walls of the small room were lit with a lightstone cluster, imbedded into the far corner of the ceiling. It cast a faint, yellow glow, but as he turned his head to take in more of his surroundings, he noticed sunlight poking out from under the curtains of the room's only window. It seemed to be mid-afternoon.

 

As he struggled to move, he secretly hoped that his tendency for blacking out and waking up in strange places didn’t become a habit.

 

He sat up and clutched his side as it split with pain. Looking down, he realized his wound had been stitched up and bandaged. Wondering where he was, what had happened, and who had helped him, he lay back down in the bed. Minutes passed, and soon he heard footsteps coming from an open doorway behind him. They briskly clunked on the wood floor, as if the being that made them was on an important mission. A stern atmosphere enveloped the room as the sounds crept closer, and as they entered the doorway, Takua felt it was necessary to pretend to be asleep.

 

The sounds stopped at the foot of his bed. Nothing happened for a moment, but then he heard a familiar voice.

 

“Takua?”

 

Takua opened an eye.

 

“I’m going to kill you Takua!”

 

“…Jaka?”

 

Suddenly the Le-Matoran was on the bed, hugging him. “You scared the karzahni out of me! I thought you were dead!”

 

Takua smiled as his friend embraced him and then helped him to sit up. “What happened? How did you get here?”

 

And Jaka told him the whole story. After the Muaka attack, he, Raipu, and Kokani searched for him, but to no avail. By the time they had made camp for the night at the bottom of the canyon, a patrol of the Sanctum Guard had surrounded them, mistaking them for bandits, or spies of Makuta. It was a Ga-Matoran who recognized Kokani, and offered them help.

 

“I remember a Ga-Matoran,” Takua said. “She helped me escape from the Rahi Nui.”

 

Jaka nodded. “We told her we were looking for you, and she said she’d seen you earlier walking toward the ‘The Lair of the Beast,’ and we knew we had to find you.”

 

“So that was you who sent them?”

 

Jaka grinned. “It was awesome! We had this whole plan figured out. Some of them went to get you, and when the Rahi Nui came after you, Kokani, Raipu and I triggered an avalanche and we crushed it! Aw, Mata Nui, I wish you would’ve been there!”

 

Takua shook his head. “I was there, Jaka.”

 

“Oh…right,” his Kakama twitched. “But I meant like, to make the avalanche and stuff. Not, you know, bleeding and getting chased by a monster.”

 

Takua smiled. “You’re a loser, you know that?”

 

Jaka rolled his eyes. “At least I don’t black out all the time.”

 

“I have a serious wound!”

 

“It’s good to see you awake.” The two friends turned around as Kokani, Raipu, and the Ga-Matoran entered the room.

 

Takua’s eyes were drawn to the newcomer, as we was curious to find out more about her. She was a full royal blue in color, with black feet and a black Komau, and was tall, almost as tall as Kokani. She seemed a little bit older than Takua, but not by much. With one corner of her mouth turning up, she walked up to Takua and stuck her hand out, oozing an easy-going, confident atmosphere.

 

“The name's Aya," she smirked. "Good to see you not dead, Takua.”

 

“Yeah,” Takua shook it and looked at Kokani and Raipu. They met his gaze, and it felt good to know that they were there for him. If it hadn’t been for them, he would have never met this Matoran, and he  may have never escaped from that dark crevice. “Thanks for helping me out back there.”

 

Aya grinned, and Takua liked her already. Their conversation went on, mostly spurred by Jaka's need to tell him everything he had missed during their separation. Takua smiled, taking it all in. He learned all about their travels down the canyon, how they'd waited through the night for him to show up, how they'd almost gotten killed over a misunderstanding. He even learned how Kokani and Aya knew each other: the Ko-Matoran had been her mentor, a long time ago. He'd taught her how to fight, shown her how to live in the frozen wastes, back when she had first came to live in the mountains. Takua's interest peaked at the thought: Kokani willingly taking someone under his wing? It didn't seem like him, but then again, there was definitely more than met the eye when it came to Ko-Matoran.

 

Eventually, they helped him out of bed, and showed him small square of Ko-Koro, situated just below Takua’s room at the inn. It was a pretty sight, with the fresh snow sparkling in the late afternoon sun. The city was calm and quiet, and Takua liked it. It was soothing, and helped him to forget the pain of his injury, and the decisions of the past.

 

Soon enough the sun was lowering in the sky, casting its orange glow upon the pine trees and the snowy buildings. Kokani led the way in the direction of the Sanctum, a large domed structure at the end of the square, and Takua remembered that the day was not yet over: Turaga Nuju was waiting for them. Council was still to be had, and he looked down at the Atouri, his nerves suddenly getting the best of him. The rest of his party had started to walk up the Sanctum's wide, stone steps, but he hesitated. He stared at the black stone, brushing his fingers against it, his mind wondering what he was about to get himself into.

 

He wasn't ready. Not yet.

 

"Kokani?" he called out. A question burned in the back of his mind.

 

The Ko-Matoran gave him an inquisitive look. Takua stood at the base of the steps, fidgeting ever so slightly, and after a moment Kokani responded by turning around and walking over to him. He looked down at Takua, just out of earshot from the others, his eyes asking what it was the Le-Matoran needed.

 

Takua looked at the ground and hesitated, suddenly struggling to form his words. With a sigh, he forced himself to continue. "Remember back in Le-Koro, when people found the storyteller who was trying to warn me?”

 

Kokani nodded.

 

"He’s not really dead, is he?"

 

"No, Takua."

 

Takua almost didn’t ask it, because he was afraid of what the answer might be. But he had to know. "Can you ever heal someone who's like that?"

 

“No.”

 

Takua paused. Somehow he’d expected Kokani's answer, but he couldn’t shake Saku’s words. He had more reason to trust Kokani than the Toa of Shadow...but now that the idea was in his head, he couldn't just give up on her. “I don’t know if you know this, but the Rahi Nui and I weren't alone in that crevice. Saku was there.”

 

To the untrained eye, Kokani would have shown no emotion, but Takua knew better. His mask seemed to tighten up, and the Ko-Matoran clenched his jaw. His thoughts seemed to churn for a second before he responded. “He offered to trade the stone for Talim, didn’t he?”

 

A bit surprised, Takua nodded.

 

Kokani put his hands on Takua’s shoulders. “I know you don’t want to hear this, but there is no way to heal someone in that state. She'll sleep, forever. Until her body rejoins the earth.” He paused, looking into Takua’s eyes. His voice was stern. “Talim isn't coming back, Takua.”

 

They stared at each other for a moment more, then Kokani let go of him, following the others toward the Sanctum.

 

“I told him I wouldn't!” Takua blurted out, feeling as though he had to explain himself.

 

Kokani stopped walking. He turned around to look at the young Le-Matoran.

 

“Come on,” he said, beckoning, and Takua quickly caught up to him. “You did the right thing, Takua.” He patted him on the shoulder, and let out a half-smile to show his approval. “You did the right thing.”


Edited by ZOMBI3S, Apr 11 2017 - 11:25 AM.

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#22 Offline ZOMBI3S

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Posted Nov 27 2012 - 12:10 PM

Chapter 10 - Council and Uncertainty

 

 

The deep blue walls loomed above Takua as he stared up at the domed ceiling of the Sanctum. Thousands upon thousands of words and symbols were etched into the rock, explaining events passed and foretelling of ones yet to come. Ko-Matoran milled about, quietly studying the walls as a low chant seemed to fill the air. Kokani led them to the back of the dome, and Takua’s eyes were drawn to a statue of a tall figure brandishing a sword and a shield. Its stone Akaku stared out towards the far wall, proud and strong. Orange flowers were draped around its shoulders, and incense and lightstones were placed around its feet.

 

“That’s Toa Kopaka,” Aya told him quietly. “Some say he was the most powerful of all the Toa.”

 

Takua stared up at the figure, dreaming about what it might have been like to stand in the legendary hero’s presence. He brushed his finger against the tip of the statue’s blade, and could almost feel the power of a snowstorm swirling within it. “What do you think happened to them?” he asked.

 

Aya looked up at the statue for a moment before answering. “They fulfilled their destiny, and Mata Nui called them back to him.”

 

Takua studied the statue for a moment or two longer, taking in the sweet scent of the incense and flowers, when something caught his eye: a few lines of script, engraved into the base. “Under the gaze of red, two will dance,” he read. “Light and Dark will meet, and the dance shall turn to dust…wait a minute, I’ve seen this before back in Le-Koro!”

 

Aya looked down at the inscription. “The dust shall dance, and spirits shall fall., and only one will remain….huh. I’ve never noticed that before.”

 

“Do you know what it means?”

 

She shook her head just as Kokani called out Takua’s name from the end of the dome, where he and the rest of their party now stood. Quickly, they walked over to meet up. A small wooden door was embedded into the wall, guarded by two Ko-Matoran.

 

“Kokani I just saw an inscription and I was wondering if—“

 

“Now is not the time,” Kokani commanded, and Takua shut his mouth. “Nuju is ready to see you. He will not speak with you directly, as you will not understand his wisdom, but his translator will answer any questions you have.”

 

Takua nodded. He’d heard about Nuju before, and had always pictured him as a little strange. Takua swallowed and turned to face the guards, who opened the door for him. His hand resting on his dagger to settle his nerves, he walked through the doorway and into a circular room, followed by Kokani and the rest of his friends.The room was the same deep blue color, but no symbols were etched into the walls here. Six elaborately carved chairs were arranged in a circle, facing the center of the chamber, but only one was occupied. The figure sat silently, staring at Takua from across the room, holding a decorative pick axe in its right hand: Turaga Nuju.

 

“Ah, Takua!” A voice sounded from his left, and Takua looked to find an Onu-Matoran approaching him. The being was about his height, and wore a beautifully polished purple Rau. A sash inlaid with gold thread hung around his shoulders, and as he stuck out his arm for a handshake, Takua noticed emerald and diamond rings on his fingers. “It’s such a pleasure to finally meet you!”

 

“Thanks...” Takua said, shaking the Matoran’s hand, feeling strange that the Onu-Matoran knew his name. “And you are?”

 

“Oh, of course! My apologies,” he paused to adjust his sash. “My name is Illum, representative of Onu-Koro, translator for Turaga Nuju, and humble Matoran under the wisdom of the Sanctum.”

 

Kokani coughed from behind Takua, and Illum looked up. Instantly the Onu-Matoran’s wide smile turned into a look of astonishment. “K-Kokani,” he stuttered, “I admit I wasn’t expecting to see you here.”

 

Kokani nodded. “The feeling is mutual.”

 

Takua looked at the two Matoran as he felt the tension in the room rising. Nuju sat in his chair, looking at them silently with his ice blue eyes. Illum opened his mouth to speak once again, but Kokani immediately cut him off.

 

“I expected a Ko-Matoran to act as Nuju’s translator.” Kokani said, staring at Illum. His words weren't offensive, but they were cold, and spoken with disgust.

 

Illum’s response was immediate, as if he had said it a hundred times. “I can assure you and your friends, Kokani, that I am perfectly capable of performing this role. I have acted as ambassador for Onu-Koro for many years and much of my time has been spent here. I have learned much about the Sanctum and Nuju’s teachings. If for any reason you feel uncomfortable with my presence, perhaps we could reschedule this meeting when another translator is available—”

 

“That won’t be necessary,” Kokani said loudly, and Illum cringed for a moment, as a Mahi would when its master clutched a whip. “Besides,” he continued, “I’m sure Turaga Nuju is very busy. I mean no disrespect.” He bowed to the Turaga, and Nuju nodded his head in return, as if he understood Kokani’s feelings.

 

“Of course,” Illum stood back up to his full height and straightened the sash around his shoulders again. “If you would all take a seat, we may begin.”

 

Each of them sat in a chair, with Takua directly across from Nuju. Only Illum was left standing as the Turaga started moving his hands in strange motions, and the Onu-Matoran began to speak.

 

“There is a prophesy,” he said, pausing as the Turaga signed for a bit, “that seven beings will come to this island. Six will come first, and when the time is right they will unite their powers and summon the Seventh, who will rise up from the waters of Naho bay. It is said that this seventh will wield the power to destroy the Atouri.”

 

Takua looked at the black stone, hanging around his neck. It still seemed strange to him that such a small trinket was the source of so much conflict.

 

Illum continued. "It is not yet clear who these beings are, but the stars all point to one conclusion. A new age is on its way, an age that hearkens back to the elder days, when Mata Nui and Makuta were at peace. However, this age will be born out of blood and fire, and the beings that will bring about its coming will be of great power. It is written that history shall repeat itself, and so we can only assume one thing: this is the prophesy we have been waiting for; the prophesy that will deliver us from Makuta's shadow. This is the prophesy that tells of the return of the Toa."

 

Takua looked up, suddenly very interested. The Toa had been gone for ages, and the only the Turaga remembered a time when they walked the earth. Countless childhood stories and legends coursed through his head at the thought of them, and instantly he wanted to know more.

 

“Nuju says that your coming here is of great importance,” Illum said as he began to walk around the perimeter of the room. The fearful demeanor of his talk with Kokani was dwindling away, replaced by the charming and charismatic one that had first greeted Takua. It seemed that Illum was most comfortable when he was talking. “He believes that you are the one who will ready the island for the coming of these beings, and he asks that you take the Atouri to Ga-Koro in preparation for their coming. But before you accept this task, Nuju understands that you must have many questions. He remembers that your namesake, the one who became the Toa of Light, had many questions about his duty, and so Nuju will answer any that you may have now.”

 

Takua looked back down at the Atouri and thought for a moment. What questions did he have? He wasn't really sure. His mind churned for a bit, but only one thought seemed to form above all others.

 

“Why me?”

 

Nuju started signing again, and Illum began to talk. “Every day that passes, darkness invades Mata Nui. The Kryll grow ever stronger, throwing aside their nomadic ways for fortresses and strongholds. Ships from the Eastern Continent continuously land on our northern shores, and their numbers grow as well as their hostility. They are rallied together by one very specific Kryll, known to have a deep seeded hatred for Matoran. He is known by many names, but mostly commonly he is Krosis, the King of the Kryll. It is said that he has pledged himself to Makuta, and is commonly seen with Saku, the Toa of Shadow, who also plagues our lands.” Illum paused as Nuju signed for a moment more. “It is Nuju’s understanding that you have met this being before, the night of the attack on Le-Koro.”

 

Takua remembered the Kryll with the golden armor and red warpaint, and felt a tingling of anger inside of him. Krosis… he thought. Now at least he had a name.

 

“Along with these two, there are rumors of another servant of Makuta living among us. A Matoran, obviously well-connected, has been feeding Saku and Krosis information about the Turaga’s plans, but his identity has escaped us. That is how they have escaped detection for so long, how Saku knew about Matau’s trap in Le-Koro, and how they were able to take the city so easily. All three of these beings know about the prophesy, and they know about the Atouri. They will be searching for it, and that is why Turaga Nuju believes that you should carry out this task.”

 

Takua looked at Illum quizzically, leading him to continue.

 

“We need someone who is able to travel across the island unnoticed. An armed caravan will attract too much attention, and you have experience with these beings. You know better than anyone how they think, and with Kokani as your guide, Nuju trusts that you will not fail.”

 

Takua didn’t believe that he knew how Saku and Krosis thought, but he did trust that as long as Kokani was with him, he would be safe. The choice Nuju offered him now wasn't even a choice to Takua. It was just something that he accepted, as he didn't know what else he would do.

 

“I’ve come this far,” Takua said, looking into Nuju’s eyes. “Why stop now?”

 

The Turaga’s Matatu smiled, and Illum spoke his words. “Nuju is pleased with your decision, and he gives you his blessing. Turaga Nokama will be expecting you, for the red star tells us that the coming of the six will soon be upon us. He trusts that you will do well in your task, Herald of the Atouri.”

 

"Hold on," Jaka stood up from his chair and faced Takua. "You don’t suppose I’m going to let you go without me, do you? I know you can't take care of yourself."

 

Nuju looked at the duo and nodded. “Your party has done well so far, I see no reason why some should stay while the others leave, should you two choose to accept as well.” Illum said as Nuju motioned to Aya and Raipu.

 

“Oh no, I only helped them to get to Ko-Koro, I haven’t been…” Aya trailed off, looking at everyone around her. After a moment she stood up and bowed. “I would be honored to accept,” she said formally, but Takua could see the excitement under her mask, and he knew she had been waiting for this opportunity.

 

But Raipu was silent. He sat in his chair, looking at the ground, obviously deep in thought. Takua remembered how apprehensive he had been back when they decided to leave Kokani’s burrow. Raipu had never wanted this. If it were up to him, he would be in Le-Koro right now, trying to rebuild what he’d lost. Takua remembered how quiet he had been in their journey through Ko-Wahi, and realized that Raipu probably wouldn’t be traveling with them any longer.

 

“I’ll do it,” the Po-Matoran said.

 

Takua looked at him, a bit suprised, but he was glad. Perhaps there was more to the Po-Matoran than he thought.

 

“It is settled. Friendship is your ally, and it will make all hardships easier to bear. Nuju wishes Mata Nui to watch over us all, and that we may have Pohatu’s speed, Onua’s strength, Tahu’s courage, Gali’s wisdom, Kopaka’s power, and perhaps most importantly, Lewa’s humor. This council is hereby adjourned."

 

Nuju dipped his head, and they all bowed in return, including Illum. As everyone filed out of the council chamber, he turned around to look at the wise Turaga one last time. His Matatu was aged, and he leaned heavily on his pick axe, but through his icy blue eyes Takua could tell his mind was very much alive. He paused, letting everyone else leave the room, until he and the Turaga were alone.

 

Slowly, Nuju walked up to him, his footsteps echoing in the empty room as his pick axe thumped on the stone floor. He stopped about a foot away from Takua, his eyes curiously asking what it was that the Matoran wanted.

 

Takua was excited about what was to come of his adventure, but still he wasn’t sure. A part of him was still in Le-Koro, watching Matau and Talim as they were ripped away from him.

 

“What if things don’t work out?” he asked, realizing that it was a stupid question, but he still needed some kind of answer.

 

Nuju smiled and placed one hand on his shoulder. Then, in a raspy, old, deep voice that hadn’t been used in a very long time, he spoke.

 

"If you ever find yourself lost, follow the red star, for it shall guide you toward your destiny."

 

Takua didn’t know how to take that, or even what it meant, but the Turaga’s eyes held something inside of them that reassured him. Something told him that if it was worth saying by the Turaga, it was worth listening to. Something told him that Nuju spoke the truth.

 

 

~~~

 

 

The early morning sun streamed through the mountains, casting its glow upon Ko-Koro’s gate. Takua and Jaka stood in the square, waiting for Kokani, Raipu and Aya to finish packing up their belongings. They had resupplied the night before and Kokani had bought Takua a new, emerald green pack to replace the one he had lost. A quarter inch of fresh snow covered the black rock of the square, and the sky was a bright, inviting blue.

 

"Did you ever think we'd be sent on a mission by a Turaga?" Takua asked, speaking his thoughts. “It’s kind of weird.”

 

Jaka looked up. "Weird?"

 

"Yeah. I never thought it'd be me doing this."

 

Jaka adjusted his pack so it sat better on his shoulders. "Life is crazy, I guess."

 

Silence dominated the square for a few moments as they stared off through the opening of the gate, wondering about the future.

 

"We could be heroes, Jaka."

 

Jaka snorted, laughing a bit to himself, but he smiled at Takua. "Maybe."

 

They heard the footsteps of the other three, and soon enough they were walking toward the gate, leaving Ko-Koro behind them. The Atouri thumped against Takua’s chest, reminding him of his duty, but overall, he felt pretty good. After all, one could never have too much adventure.

 

“Takua!”

 

He turned around at the sound of his name to see Illum running towards him across the square, bundled in a luxurious fur coat. He stopped to let the Onu-Matoran catch up.

 

“I wanted to have a word with you before you left,” Illum said, “if that’s alright.”

 

Takua nodded his head. “Sure, what's up?”

 

“I know I don’t know you very well,” Illum said as his mask gleamed in the morning light, “but I thought I’d just say good luck out there.” He stuck out his hand, and Takua shook it.

 

“Thanks.”

 

Illum leaned in close so that only he could hear. “Be careful. Mata Nui is a dangerous place: trust no one, not even those closest to you.”

 

Takua looked at him, suddenly on edge. “What are you saying?”

 

“Nuju trusts him, but I’d still watch my back if I were you,” he said, nodding towards Kokani. “There are rumors about him, you know. Dark rumors.” Illum paused, letting the thought sink in. “One of Makuta’s servants is living among us, and although I try not to judge, well…” he trailed off for a second. “...it could be anyone.”

 

Takua glanced over at Kokani, who had started to walk towards him and Illum. He really didn’t know anything about the Ko-Matoran. He was friends with Matau and he had saved his life many times, but what if there was something darker to Kokani? Takua remembered the fire he’d seen in his eyes when they were ambushed by Kryll, and how much it had unnerved him. There was definitely something Kokani wasn’t telling them.

 

“Just saying,” Illum said as Kokani came into earshot. He patted Takua on the shoulder and let go of his hand. “Good luck out there, friend.”

 

And just like that, Illum was gone, and they had left Ko-Koro. Suddenly, the world wasn’t full of adventure and stories. It was full of unknown dangers, and darkness crept around every corner. After all, they were still being hunted. They still had to cross the entire island of Mata Nui, and while the dangers of Rahi, Saku, and Krosis were intimidating, Takua couldn’t help but wonder: what if their most dangerous enemy was within their midst all along?

 

The Atouri thumped against his chest as he looked at Kokani, walking along the mountain road ahead of him. Clutching the straps of his pack, he tried to settle his nerves as his heart beat loud in his chest.

 

Thump-thp.

 

Takua sighed. Only time would tell.

 

Thump-thp.

~End of Part II~


Edited by ZOMBI3S, Apr 09 2017 - 01:44 PM.

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#23 Offline ZOMBI3S

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Posted Dec 27 2012 - 09:50 PM

part3_zps3f4a9705.png

 

Chapter 1 - Misfits

 

 

Lightning flashed as Takua gripped the rock, pressing his back against the mountain as the thunderstorm pelted him with rain. Mud and water rushed off a ledge above his head, forming a wall of brown liquid that cascaded just inches from his face. The tame, wide, mountain road they'd departed Ko-Koro on had morphed into a narrow shelf, cutting into the near vertical cliffs, forcing the company to shimmy along its edge in single file. One false step on the slippery rocks could send them plummeting down the near-vertical mountainside.

 

Eventually there was a break in the cascade of water, and Takua looked around, making sure everyone was still present. He wiped the mud from his mask and yelled over the torrential rain. “Everyone alright?”

 

Jaka nodded, standing right behind him, and Aya responded with a thumbs-up, a couple feet in front. He saw the white outline of Kokani even farther ahead, easily thirty feet away. He was barely visible through the downpour, but Takua wasn’t worried about Kokani.

 

“Where’s Raipu?” he asked. Minutes ago the Po-Matoran had stood between him and Aya. He looked around, searching for a second before repeating himself. “Where’s Raipu!?”

 

“Help!” Raipu’s voice rang out, and Takua glanced over the edge of the shelf. The Po-Matoran was dangling by his fingers over the vast drop-off, nothing but air beneath him.

 

Takua got down to his knees as fast as he could without throwing himself off-balance. “Raipu grab my hand!” he yelled, and the Po-Matoran took it, pulling himself up toward the ledge.

 

Crack!

 

A section of the rock shelf gave way, and Takua let out a yell as he fell into the open air. Desperate, he reached to grab onto something, and just barely managed to connect with Aya’s hand. The Ga-Matoran strained under their combined weight, and she was forced to lie on her stomach to prevent herself from being pulled over.

 

"Pull!" Takua yelled. Aya tried her best, but it wasn’t enough. Even as Jaka’s scrambled to help, Takua could feel his fingers slipping away from them, and he looked down at Raipu, desperately clinging to his other arm. The rain obscured his vision, and all he could see below him was a grey void.

 

“Takua don’t you dare let go!” Jaka yelled at him.

 

“I’m slipping!”

 

Inch by inch, Takua felt his arm slip out of Aya’s grip, and he closed his eyes. Then, another hand gripped onto his arm, and he looked up to find Kokani staring down at him. With the Ko-Matoran’s help, Jaka and Aya managed to pull them back onto the ledge, and the five Matoran sat for a moment and rested. Thunder rumbled above them as they sat, until Aya finally spoke up.

 

“We need to find shelter, Kokani,” she turned her head to look at the Ko-Matoran. “We’re going to get ourselves killed out here.”

 

Kokani nodded. “There’s a small cave up ahead. We can rest there for the night.”

 

 

~~~

 

 

Takua sat down, sighing as he leaned back against the wall of the cave. His pack crumpled to the floor beside him, and he wedged his lightstone into a crack in the wall, providing just enough light to get a good look around. The space was just large enough for the five of them, and provided much needed shelter from the raging storm outside. He eyed Kokani as he rummaged through his pack, finally having a moment to collect his thoughts.

 

He had every reason to trust the Ko-Matoran, but he couldn’t seem to shake Illum’s words. Since they had left Ko-Koro, Takua had tried to find out more about their guide, but to no avail. Kokani never gave up anything about his past. It wasn't that his brief conversation with Illum had completely shaken his trust in the Ko-Matoran, but rather, it had made him realize just how little he knew about him. It was, now that he'd been thinking about it, a little unnerving. He stared, watching Kokani's muddied armor move in the yellow light, until finally he decided to speak

 

“How do you know Illum, Kokani?”

 

Kokani glanced at the Le-Matoran, the light twinkling in his eyes. “Why do you ask?”

 

He shrugged. “I was just wondering.”

 

Kokani sighed as he pulled an extra lightstone and a map from his pack. “Illum is Onu-Koro’s ambassador. He travels to other villages and cities, discussing relations and politics. I have met him many times over my years with the Sanctum.”

 

Takua nodded. “You two don’t seem to get along very well.”

 

Kokani huffed, making it obvious what his thoughts were before opening his mouth. “He is a politician. He debates and argues about what is best for the Matoran, but only so long as it will keep his coffers full of widgets. He dresses himself in precious jewels while there are people in his city that remain poor and starving. Never once has he been out in the real world, and never once has he truly meant the words he speaks.”

 

Takua looked down at the ground, feeling a little guilty as Kokani placed his lightstone on the floor of the cave, spreading out his map. He motioned for the others to gather around, and Takua knew he shouldn’t have taken Illum’s words to heart when Kokani’s actions should have spoken louder.

 

“We’re about here,” Kokani changed the subject as he pointed to the northern border of Ko-Wahi, just beneath a small green strip of vegetation at the edge of the mountains. To the north was the vast expanse of the Motara desert, and to the east the small green strip expanded into the mangrove forests of Ga-Wahi and Naho bay. “We should be able to descend out of the mountains by tomorrow afternoon, and from there we can travel east under the cover of the forest to Ga-Koro.”

 

“We won’t be going through Po-Koro?” Raipu asked.

 

Kokani looked up. “Why would we?”

 

“I don’t know…” he trailed off. “I just figured we would stop for supplies or something.”

 

Jaka cocked his head, studying Raipu for a second. “Feeling homesick?” he asked.

 

“What? No...” Raipu looked at him, trailing off. “…well, maybe a little." He paused, looking at the cavern floor before shrugging his shoulders. "I’ll be alright though.”

 

Kokani's ice blue eyes looked at the Po-Matoran, clearly not caring about anyone's homesickness. He pointed to the map again. "We travel directly to Ga-Koro. The trees provide cover if we run into any trouble, and there numerous small villages along the way if we are in desperate need of supplies. But I'd prefer if we kept that to a minimum." He took a moment to look at everyone in the room. "Any questions?"

 

Takua shook his head, along with everyone else. Occasionally Aya was able to get away with challenging Kokani, but other than that, everything was pretty much his call. That wasn't necessarily a bad thing, however; he was definitely the most seasoned traveler among them.

 

Satisfied, Kokani rolled up his map and packed it away. He pulled his pack to the corner of the cave, pulling out a small cloth, content to polish his blade in silence. With all of his business taken care of, the group was quiet, and Takua listened to the pitter-patter of rain as it hit the rock outside. He gazed out the cave's entrance, the sky a blurry, grey canvas, only interrupted by the occasional flash of lightning, or the delayed rumble of thunder.

 

“You have someone special there, don’t you?”

 

Takua's attention was pulled back to the group as Aya's voice broke the silence. The Ga-Matoran smirked, leaning forward as she pointed at Raipu. Kokani may have been her mentor at some point, but she was nothing like him when it came to personality. Where Kokani was quiet and stoic, Aya was loud and...well, very forward.

 

"Someone you really want to see, yeah?" Aya grinned.

 

Raipu looked surprised as she changed the subject back to him, but slowly, he let out a small chuckle. “I guess you could say that.”

 

“Well come on, tell us!” she demanded, folding her arms and leaning back. “We have nowhere to be.”

 

Raipu sighed and fiddled with a string on his pack before speaking up. “Her name’s Nika. We grew up together. When I first left for Le-Koro I asked her to come with me, but…” he stopped for a moment, thinking of what to say. “...I guess she liked home more than I did.”

 

"You left her for Le-Koro?" Aya raised her eyebrows, curious. "Why?"

 

“I...I’m not really sure,” Raipu shook his head, “I’m not like a lot of Po-Matoran, I guess. I never really fit in there. I wasn’t a good carver, I didn’t value Kolhii the way everyone else did, and...well, I guess I just needed a change of scenery," he paused twirling his string around his fingers. "We still write each other, but...I'd still like to see her if I could."

 

"Well, that's..." Aya's eyes looked up as she trailed off, thinking of the right word. Her mask contorted, as if everything that came to her wasn't satisfying enough. She sighed, finally finishing her thought, albeit a bit uncomfortably. "...cute."

 

Takua snorted a little bit, looking from her to Raipu. Aya had a way with sarcasm, in that you could never really tell when she was using it.

 

"If that's what you want to call it, I guess." Raipu squinted, not really sure what she meant by that. He flicked his string out of his hands,  “What about you? A Ga-Matoran in Ko-Wahi? I bet that has a story.”

 

"Yeah..." There was silence for a few moments before the Ga-Matoran spoke up. “Ga-Koro's nice and all, but it was always too quiet for me. Everyone would look at you funny if you said anything about adventure, and once you get a reputation as being different…well....” She drew her short sword as she paused, inspecting its blade in the dim light. “Eh...Ga-Koro bored me," she summed up. "When I met Kokani I decided I’d had enough of it, and I left.” She sent a glance over to the Ko-Matoran, who looked up for only a second, but then went back to polishing his staff.

 

Jaka chimed in as he bit into a strip of jerky, adding his own two cents. “I wouldn’t say we were the most popular Matoran either.”

 

Takua let out a half-smile from where he sat, holding the Atouri in his palm, tracing its edges with his index finger. It shimmered in the light, reflecting small spots of light on the cave walls. Eventually, he looked up at the others and shrugged.

 

“I guess we’re all misfits here, huh?”

 

A long roll of thunder boomed outside, and the gentle tapping of rain echoed throughout the cave. Takua rolled out his sleeping pad and stared at the rocky ceiling, letting his mind drift where it pleased until sleep took him.

 

 

~~~

 

 

Kokani knelt down and sifted through the ashes of the old fire pit. A few Rahi bones and a broken scimitar lay around it. "It’s old, probably a few days," he concluded. "A band of kryll camped here; four, maybe five of them. We need to be on our guard: there are many more of them on this side of the mountains."

 

They were entering the green strip Kokani had pointed out the previous night, and as they traveled down the mountain, the more apparent that became. More plants grew, and eventually they found themselves surrounded not only by tall grasses and shrubs, but lush, green trees and forests of bamboo. The crisp air warmed, growing increasingly humid, and the snow that capped the mountain formed streams that gurgled and crisscrossed over the small trail they walked on.

 

Takua took a deep breath and savored the humid air. It deeply reminded him of Le-Koro. His time in Ko-Wahi had made him miss the cover of the leaves and the small spaces it provided. The scents and sounds of the forest all came rushing back to him, and he loved every second of it. Even the bugs that buzzed around made him smile as they hovered by his ears and darted off before he could smack at them.

 

As evening came that day they found themselves out on the farms of a small trading village, gently nestled at the base of the mountain. Terraced crops were cut into the rock, and they saw farmers and livestock returning to their homes after a hard day’s work. The Matoran living here were rather diverse: most of them were a mix of Po and Onu-Matoran, but one could also pick out the occasional Ga-matoran walking the streets. Herds of Mahi wandered the fields, while trained Hapaka barked at anyone passing by. As they walked, they even saw one farmer trying to coax a Husi bird to come down from where it was perched atop a roof. Takua chuckled at the sight.

 

Kokani led the way to the village’s inn, where they stopped to have a decent meal and the chance to sleep in a real bed. A bell above the door rang as he opened it, and the voices of many Matoran flooded their ears as they did. The luxurious two-story building was decorated with hand carved wood along the walls and ceiling. There was a spot of wooden floor near the entrance to wash one's feet, as the rest of the structure's floor was covered in dark blue carpet. The main lobby served as a restaurant and bar, and a small ornate fountain was placed directly in the room's center, displaying a scene of a Takea shark leaping out of the water. The fountain's base read 'The Great Takea,' presumably the name of the place. There was a second floor balcony that stretched around the perimeter of the lobby, which led into a long hallway filled with rooms.

 

Following Kokani’s lead, all five of them sat down at an empty table. A Po-Matoran waitress soon greeted them, and passed out menus.

 

“Welcome to The Great Takea, restaurant and luxury resort. What can I do for you this—” She stopped talking immediately as looked up from her notepad, making eye contact with Takua, then Jaka and Kokani. “You’re Le-Matoran…” she trailed off.

 

Takua and Jaka exchanged a confused glance before looking back at her.

 

“Is something wrong?” Jaka asked.

 

The waitress’ mask drained of color as she looked at the setting sunlight that streamed through the windows. “You have to leave. All of you.”

 

Aya spoke up. “Hey, we've traveled a long way to get here, and you have no reason to kick us out! We’re paying customers!”

 

“You don’t understand,” the waitress said, looking around nervously. “Every night about this time Kryll come in. They're looking for a group of—”

 

The door swung open forcefully, and everyone turned their heads. A group of Kryll stood in the doorway, led by one Turaga Nuju himself had warned them about: Krosis, the King of the Kryll.


Edited by ZOMBI3S, May 21 2017 - 03:32 PM.

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#24 Offline ZOMBI3S

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Posted Jan 08 2013 - 12:51 AM

Chapter 2 - The Great Takea

 

 

“I told you before, Noruk! Your kind aren’t welcome here!” a Matoran behind the bar yelled at the group of Kryll. The restaurant grew quiet at the sound of commotion, and Matoran around the room turned their heads to watch the scene. “You can’t just barge into my restaurant anytime you want! If you’re looking for someone that’s your business, but don’t come bringing it here!”

 

A Kryll with bronze armor and emerald green eyes strolled up to the bartender. Takua gasped, realizing that it was the same one from their encounter in Ko-Wahi, only now he seemed to wear a belt with metal cylinders attached to it. But the Kryll hadn’t spotted them yet, and so Takua sank low in his seat.

 

“I'd suggest you watch your tongue, old man,” the Kryll called Noruk said in a raspy voice. “You wouldn’t want to offend my dear friend Krosis, would you?”

 

The bartender’s mask went white at the sound of the name, and he looked at the Kryll with golden armor. He swallowed, trying to regain his nerve, and sternly turned back to Noruk. “I can tolerate you and a couple others as long you don’t cause any damage, but not him. This is too far.”

 

Still standing next to Kokani, the Po-Matoran waitress subtly pulled a key out of her pocket and placed it on the table. “Go and hide, before they spot you,” she whispered. “Room nineteen, second floor. Stairs are over there.” She nodded to a staircase on the far wall.

 

Kokani grabbed the key and bent over, hiding behind tables of Matoran as he made his way toward the stairs. Before Takua knew what was going on, the others had followed his lead and had made it halfway across the room. Cursing himself for not paying attention, he ducked behind a booth and lost track of the bartender’s conversation. Focusing solely on the blue carpet in front of him, he quietly made his way across the large dining room.

 

His friends were at the bottom of the stairs now, and Jaka turned around for a moment to make eye contact with him. Hiding underneath a round table filled with Po-Matoran, he mouthed at his friend to go on; he’d catch up. Quietly, Jaka nodded and ran up the stairs.

 

Crash!

 

Takua looked up at the sound of shattering dishes. Noruk held the bartender by his throat. The Matoran’s feet dangled a foot above the ground as the bronze-armored Kryll screamed at him.

 

“We saw them enter a few minutes ago; we know you’re hiding them! Where are they!?”

 

Other workers of The Great Takea had been standing behind the bartender, and at Noruk’s actions every one of them drew weapons. The Kryll snarled, unmoved by the butchering knives, daggers, and broken bottles pointed at his throat. The three Kryll behind him drew their scimitars and pointed them at the workers. With both sides having drawn blades, no one dared to move except the bartender, struggling desperately for air.

 

“Put the Matoran down, Noruk.”

 

Krosis’ deep, powerful voice sounded as his eyes surveyed the dining room. For a moment Noruk stared at his prey, but then he released his grip, the metal cylinders around his waist clinking as he did so. The bartender fell to the ground, gasping for air. One of the workers helped him to his feet while the others stared at the Kryll, not moving their blades. Takua watched silently from underneath his table, as he dared not move while Krosis stared in his direction.

 

Silently, the golden Kryll unsheathed his blade. The curved protosteel glimmered in the soft light that streamed through the windows, and he weighed it in his hand as if he were feeling it for the first time.

 

With a flash of his armor the Kryll threw his sword, and it slammed into the wooden top of Takua’s table, knocking it over and shattering dishes as Po-Matoran screamed and jumped away. Takua found himself sitting on the floor, entirely exposed as the restaurant was silent for a second. Krosis met his startled gaze with a cold smile.

 

“Noruk,” he addressed his companion. “Kill them.”

 

Takua sprang to his feet as pandemonium ensued. The Kryll lunged at the workers, cutting them down swiftly as Matoran screamed and ran for the exits. Takua sprinted for the staircase as Krosis barreled after him, retrieving his sword from the table as he passed it.

 

Skipping two steps at a time, Takua climbed the stairs and soon found himself facing a long hallway. He ran down it, passing numbered rooms as he went. Ten, eleven, twelve... he could hear Krosis’ heavy steps, climbing the stairs behind him, but he didn’t dare stop and turn around. Finally he reached room nineteen and banged on the door with his fists. Aya opened it and pulled him in, locking it behind him.

 

“What happened? It sounds like chaos down there!” Kokani said as Takua bent over to catch his breath. The room was small, only built for one or two Matoran to sleep in.

 

“Krosis found me hiding under a table. I don’t think he saw me come in here though.”

 

Kokani got up off the bed and started assembling his bladed staff from the pieces he pulled out of his pack. "Ready your weapons,” he ordered. “We’re going to need them.”

 

A loud crack sounded from down the hallway, followed by Matoran screams and snarls from Kryll. Kokani halted at the door, and a few seconds later, as the sounds repeated, only closer. "They're searching every room for us," he concluded. "We have to go while there's still time!"

 

Crack!

 

Something smashed against their door from the outside; the Kryll had found them. Digging his heels, Kokani braced himself against the door, just a second before another crack sounded. The wood around the lock started to splinter, and Aya rushed forward, throwing her weight against the wood, doing her best to help Kokani hold it.

 

“What are we going to do!?” Raipu yelled, a hint of panic in his voice. “There's no other way out!”

 

Crack! The door strained as Kokani and Aya were pushed back.

 

"I told you to ready your weapons!"

 

Another body slammed against the door from the outside, and fissures spread form the door's hinges. "We know you're in there, Matoran!" The Kryll yelled, muffled from behind the heavy oak. "Come out and everything will be easier!"

 

"Not unless you plan on buying us drinks!" Aya yelled back.

 

Crash! The door burst off its hinges and the Kryll forced their way into the room. Aya and Kokani fell to the floor, trampled under the fallen door. Takua hugged the far wall and drew his dagger, readying himself for the King of the Kryll, but instead it was Noruk and two others that entered.

 

Noruk paused for a moment to smirk. “Hiding like a rat, just as I figured!”

 

The other two Kryll lunged at Takua, but Kokani grabbed their ankles, and they tumbled face first into the floor. The Ko-Matoran sprung up in front of Noruk, who struck out with his clawed fists. Kokani took both blows to the chest, knocking him back into the wall, but giving Aya enough time to get to her feet and launch her own assault. The bronze Kryll whirled around just in time to parry her blade, but wasn’t fast enough to avoid Kokani as he lunged from behind, grabbing the Kryll’s arms and locking his hands behind its neck. With a grunt he slammed Noruk into the wall, bloodying his mandibles and stunning him for a few precious moments.

 

“Go!” Kokani pushed Takua over the two Kryll on the ground and out the door. Raipu and Jaka quickly followed.

 

As he stumbled into the long hallway, Takua swiveled around to see another warrior standing above him. It wielded a club, and it was all he could do to put up his arms in defense as the weapon smashed into his arms and head. He fell to the ground, seeing spots as everything went dark and fuzzy. His forearms throbbed, but he could still move them. He groped the top of his head, hoping for only a large bump, but soon a trickle of blood made its way into his vision.

 

Trying to right himself, he heard a few thumps and then a crash, and blurry figures moved all around him. In a second it was over, and he felt hands on him.

 

“Come on, Takua!”

 

Jaka and Raipu were pulling him up now, and the hallway seemed to spin. He turned around to see the Kryll who had clubbed him lying on the ground unconscious, and he was thankful for his friends. His vision starting to clear again, they ran down the hallway and found themselves on the balcony that wrapped around the main dining room. They turned the corner, making their way to a set of stairs on the other side of the room, when Takua stopped suddenly.

 

Krosis and two other Kryll stood at the top of the stairs, blocking their escape, all of them almost twice Takua’s size. He met Krosis' gaze, the Kryll just barely smirking at him.

 

“I’m going to have to ask you to come with me, Takua.” Krosis' voice was calm, almost polite, but Takua knew that nothing civil was about to happen.

 

“You’re going to have to go through me first!” Jaka said, stepping in front of Takua and pointing his dagger at the Kryll.

 

Krosis chuckled. It was a deep, intimidating sound “Well...that can be arranged, if you wish.”

 

The two Kryll behind him advanced, and Jaka swallowed hard as their heavy footsteps came towards him. Slowly, he, Takua and Raipu backed up. There was no way they could win this fight.

 

“Jaka, don’t hurt yourself,” Aya said quietly as she and Kokani pushed past the Le-Matoran. His eyes lit up at their arrival. They both had suffered cuts and bruises, but they seemed to be in good shape.

 

Kokani cracked his neck as he gripped his staff. His blade pointed toward the Kryll, dripping with blood. “Let’s get this over with.”

 

Wasting no time, the Kryll ran at them, and Aya drew her short, one-handed sword and slashed at the first Kryll. It blocked the attack with a spiked greave it wore around its forearm and wrenched its arm back, locking Aya's blade as it sent her crashing into the far wall with a kick to the stomach. At the same time Kokani slid to the side as he dodged the other warrior’s blade, and moved again as the Kryll struck out with its fist. Its claw ripped through the wall behind him, and the kryll struggled to move its arm, suddenly finding its arm stuck. Angered, it lashed out with its blade. Kokani parried and promptly freed the kryll from the wall with a kick. The Kryll fell back on top of Aya, who whirled around just in time to catch it with the tip of her blade. There was a nauseating crunch as her steel pierced the Kryll’s armor and poked out the other side. She pulled her sword free, and the Kryll sank to the ground, dead.

 

The other one roared in anger, slashing at her from behind, but the Ga-matoran quickly locked blades with it. She pushed, trying to overpower it, but it was obviously stronger, and began to gain the upper hand. Steadily it pushed her to the ground, and as Kokani rushed to her aid, Krosis joined the fight and slammed the Ko-Matoran into the wall.

 

Takua wiped the blood from his eyes as he gripped his dagger. He wanted to help, but his head was still a bit fuzzy, and he feared he would only get in the way.

 

“We have to find another way out,” he told Jaka as he started to turn around. “There’s another staircase over—”

 

Strong arms clamped around him and he was lifted into the air by his throat. Noruk stood in front of him, his mandibles still bleeding as he spoke. “Surprise.”

 

Startled, Jaka and Raipu yelled out, ready to run at the kryll, but Noruk squeezed Takua tighter.

 

“You come any closer and your friend dies.”

 

More blood dripped into Takua’s eyes as he struggled to breathe. Noruk stared at him, made even more menacing from his wounds. Takua groped at the Kryll’s wrist, trying to free himself, but he wasn’t strong enough, and Noruk only squeezed him tighter.

 

“You and your friends killed my brother, Takua,” Noruk’s emerald eyes stared into Takua's as he gasped for air. The Kryll smiled, clicking his mandibles excitedly at Takua's pain. “I will have my revenge.”

 

His vision started to wane, Takua caught a glimpse of the Kryll's belt. Acting as fast as he could, he clamped his fingers around one of the metal cylinder at Noruk's waist, and slammed it against the Kryll’s head. Noruk dropped him as he stumbled, and the cylinder clattered to the floor between Takua and Raipu. A small red light its top flashed, and the object let out a small, high-pitched beep every second or so. Takua stared at it as he caught his breath, and Noruk’s eyes widened as he regained his footing. Without any warning, the Kryll turned, and ran.

 

A bit taken aback, Takua looked after him. “Where’s he going?”

 

“Move!”

 

Kokani slammed into him just as the cylinder exploded. The balcony was shattered, and everyone upon it was thrown into the air. Wood and plaster rained down as smoke and some sort of grey-green gas filled the area. Takua hit the blue carpet of the dining room with a thud and almost blacked out. 

 

He coughed, wiping blood from his eyes as he struggled to get up. Shaking off dust and debris, he looked around, confused. His sight was blurry and his ears were ringing. All around him he could hear people yelling through the smoke, but he couldn't make anything out. His head throbbed.

 

"Takua!" His hearing came back to him and he turned to see Jaka leaning over him. "Takua! Can you hear me?"

 

"Yeah," he sat up and covered his mouth with his palm to cough. He glanced at his hand, and looked at Jaka.

 

“What?”

 

Takua showed him his palm, and it was covered in blood. Turning over, he faced the ground as he went into a coughing fit, and more blood splattered the floor.

 

“Mata Nui,” Jaka said, looking at the gas that was quickly filling up the room. “It’s poison!”

 

Takua nodded as he coughed again. Through the gas he could make out Aya leaning over Raipu, who was still on the ground. He checked himself for the Atouri and his dagger, then grabbed Jaka's hand and pulled himself up.

 

"Raipu," Aya said as Takua and Jaka came into earshot. "Raipu, come on, you're all right. Come on, wake up!"

 

Takua looked at the Po-Matoran and remembered that after Kokani pushed him out of the way, Raipu had been closest to the metal cylinder. Raipu had taken the full force of the blast.

 

“Raipu, please!” Aya yelled.  

 

An overwhelming sense of guilt came upon Takua. If it wasn’t for Kokani, this would have been him. This should have been him.

 

“Raipu!”

 

The Po-Matoran didn’t open his eyes.

 

“Raipu!”


Edited by ZOMBI3S, May 21 2017 - 04:45 PM.

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#25 Offline ZOMBI3S

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Posted Jan 14 2013 - 10:02 PM

Chapter 3 - Decisions and Distrust

 

“Search the forest!” Noruk yelled, “I want them alive!”

The bronze armored Kryll gazed out into the dark trees, his back to The Great Takea. The explosive had blown a hole in the building’s back wall, and Matoran scurried about, trying to put out fires before the entire structure was engulfed in flames. But Noruk didn’t care. Two of his warriors were dead, cut down by Kokani and Aya, and so far he had nothing to show for it. He clicked his mandibles in frustration. In the confusion after the blast, the Matoran had managed to escape.

He heard Krosis’ footsteps approaching behind him, but he didn't turn around to greet his superior. it was silent for a second before Krosis' deep voice sounded.

 

“Let them run, Noruk,” the King of the Kryll said. “There will be another time.”

“You would let them get away!?” Noruk whirled around, fire in his eyes. “They killed my brother, Krosis! They killed Nilum!”

“Both you and Nilum were eager for blood. I warned you about Kokani. He’s no ordinary Matoran.” He turned to look at The Great Takea. “The gas is dispersing. Come, help me find the bodies of our fallen comrades.”

Noruk fumed, disagreeing with his orders. “You’re afraid of him!” He spat. “That’s why you won’t chase them down!”

Krosis was still for only a second, but then there was a whirl of golden armor, and in the blink of an eye Noruk was on the ground, with Krosis’ blade at his throat. Instantly, he froze.

 

Krosis stared into Noruk's eyes, letting his steel make its point before speaking. “I fear no being of this earth. Not Rahi, not Matoran, not Toa, and especially not you.” He paused, letting his words sink in. “I have done things that would make you shudder; I have seen the Void and returned. You would do well to never again question my power, or strength of will.”

Noruk twitched, still in a bit of shock, and everything seemed to stand still for a moment. His superior was much faster and much stronger than he expected. “I understand.”

“Good.” Krosis sheathed his blade, letting go of the Kryll. “You are a brave warrior, Noruk, and I like you. But you never think before you act."

 

Humbled, Noruk pushed himself back to his feet. He bowed his head, showing respect without responding.

 

Krosis seemed to accept the gesture, as he turned around and walked back toward the burning inn. "And besides," he spoke up again. "We have more important matters to attend to.”

Noruk nodded. It was true; finding the Atouri would have to wait. Drumming his claws on one of the explosives still attached to his belt, he thought about what was to come. A couple dozen feet away, a Matoran staggered to the ground, clutching his throat as he choked on blood. A victim of the poison; he wouldn’t last long. Calmly, he turned around to follow Krosis. This was only the beginning.

 

~~~

 

Takua splashed the cool water on his mask, cleaning the blood and dirt from it. The small pool was surrounded by trees and bamboo, and provided enough cover for them to rest for the night. Everyone sat on its banks, nursing their wounds as the full moon shone above them, reflecting off the water.

Cupping his hands, he drank some, trying to sooth his throat. It tingled going down, and he was thankful that the fiery pain he’d felt at first was finally subsiding. He didn’t know what the poison was that Noruk had worn around his belt, but it worried him. If they could poison the very air, what else were the Kryll capable of?

He stared at his reflection in the pool and sighed. It’d been a while since he’d seen himself, and to be honest, he didn’t look very good. His Pakari was covered in scratches and dings, and his light green eyes had bags under them. He looked down to his side, where the Muaka in Ko-Wahi had left him with three long scars that wrapped from his hip to his bottom rib.

It will make for a good story though…

He leaned over to get a better look at his mask, and something caught his attention. There, in the corner of his Pakari was a tiny spot of discoloring. He poked at it with his finger.

Rust!?

As fast as he could he scraped it away and washed his mask thoroughly. How could he have been so careless? How embarrassing would it be if someone saw that? Quietly, he swore to take better care of his Kanohi from now on. That should never happen.

“Hey,” he heard Aya call out. “I think he’s waking up!”

Takua hurried over to where Raipu lay on the ground. The Po-Matoran was alive, but barely. The armor on his left side had been shattered, starting at his ankle and ending just below his chest. His wounds had been cleaned and wrapped. Aya had taken good care of him.

Raipu opened his eyes and clutched his throat. “Water….” His voice was hoarse and quiet.

“Here, drink this.” Aya handed him a cup of sludge that Kokani had made from various herbs. “It’ll make you feel better.”

“Hey Raipu, how are you doing?” Takua asked.

Raipu sipped from the cup hesitantly and looked at Takua. “I feel…strange.”

“You’ll be alright.” Aya said. “You just need to rest.”

He looked down at his body and his eyes widened. His Hau, normally proud and strong, was struck with fear as it paled. “What happened? I can’t move my leg!” The bandages around his thigh and stomach began to stain red.

Aya shushed him and pushed the cup to his lips. “Just drink it Raipu, you’ll feel better.”

His fingers shaking, Raipu gulped down the brew. Aya took it away from him and he looked at Takua, his eyes wide and twitching. “I…I’m scared.”

“We’re here for you.” Takua managed to smile as he put his hand on the Po-Matoran’s shoulder.

Raipu’s eyes rolled back in his head, and his body went limp as he fell asleep. Aya looked at Takua and forced a smile. “Kokani sure knows how to make a drink, doesn’t he?”

Takua nodded at her attempt to lighten the mood, and the two of them made their way around the pool to where Kokani and Jaka sat in silence.

“How is he?” Kokani asked, not looking up from where he sat against a tree trunk.

Aya sighed. “Not good. He needs a healer. I can only do so much.”

“What’re we going to do?” Jaka asked.

There was silence for a few moments, until Kokani finally answered. “We continue to Ga-Koro.”

“That’s way too far!” Aya let out. “There’s no way he’ll last that long.”

Kokani paused before he answered. “I know.”

“You would leave him here?”

“None of the Koro are close enough; no matter what we do he’s going to die.”

“What about Po-Koro?” Jaka pulled out a map and pointed at it, just north of where they were now. “If we travel fast we can get there in a few days. Raipu’s strong, he’ll make it!”

“He can’t walk,” Kokani retorted. “We’d have to carry him through the Motara desert. We’d be lucky if we didn’t all perish.”

“But there’s a chance!”

“That desert is huge. Matoran only cross it in caravans with Rahi. Assuming we don’t get lost in those dunes, we still don’t have the supplies to make the journey. We’d be marching to our graves.”

“And we’ll be sending Raipu to his if we leave him!” Jaka retorted.

“I don’t like it any more than you do. But we have no choice.”

Takua looked at Kokani with disgust. He’d stayed quiet until now, but he couldn’t believe he was going to give up on Raipu so easily. Illum’s words flooded into Takua’s head, and once again he questioned the Ko-Matoran’s intentions. Leaving Raipu was a cold-hearted thing to do, and he wouldn’t stand for it.

“We’re going to Po-Koro.” Takua said, standing up. “I’ll carry Raipu myself if I have to, but I’m not going to give up on him.” He looked at Kokani, his face stern. “Go to Ga-Koro if you want, but I’m taking the Atouri with me.”

Kokani’s mask was emotionless, but his eyes locked with Takua’s, and the Le-Matoran saw a hint of a raging fire within them. His jaw clenched and his hands balled into fists, but through his subtle, threatening body language, Takua stared right back, unmoving.

Not this time, Takua thought.

No one spoke for a moment, and eventually Kokani looked back at the pool. His body relaxed.

“So be it,” he said.

Without a word, Takua turned around and walked to the other side of the pool, where he laid out his sleeping pad a couple feet away from Raipu. He looked up at the sky and saw the red star, shining in the east above the tall stalks of bamboo. Crickets chirped quietly as he gazed at the red ball of light, lost in his own thoughts. He knew he shouldn’t get on Kokani’s bad side, but this was something he had to do. The Atouri and the prophesy could wait. The return of the Toa could wait, and so could the coming of The Seventh. His friend was dying, and he knew if he ever found that wasn’t his first priority, he’d lost his way.

At least, that’s what Talim would have told him in this situation.

He looked down at the Atouri, glimmering in the moonlight. He traced its edges with his finger and sighed. Even Talim would have to wait.


Edited by ZOMBI3S, May 21 2017 - 05:15 PM.

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#26 Offline ZOMBI3S

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Posted Jan 21 2013 - 04:10 PM

Chapter 4 - A Terrible Discovery

 

 

Broad leaves whipped past Takua’s mask as he ran through the field. The Hapaka barked and howled behind him as he ran after Jaka and Aya, trying not to lose them in the dense filage. Kokani ran a couple steps behind, carrying Raipu on his shoulders. With a grunt, Takua jumped down a terrace, landing onto a patch of hard dirt before taking off again.

 

They had stumbled into the farmer’s field earlier that morning, and hadn’t thought much of it until the farmer set his Hapaka on them for trespassing. Takua wasn’t sure how many of the dog-Rahi were after them, but judging by the sounds there were at least five, and he knew that they couldn’t risk any injuries from the beasts.

 

Pushing past a large tree, he followed Aya and Jaka into the sparse forest at the edge of the field. Kokani’s feet crunched on the sandy soil behind him, and he chanced a look backward. The Hapaka were still barking, invisible within the cover of the field, and Kokani’s white armor glistened with sweat. The air here was hotter and drier than it was back near the village, and it seemed to be taking its toll on the Ko-Matoran. Raipu dangled unconscious around his shoulders, as Kokani had given him another dose of his herbal sludge, to save him from pain.

 

Takua slowed to a stop next to Jaka and Aya, listening as he caught his breath. The Hapaka’s barks were farther away now; it seemed they had stopped chasing them at the edge of the field. Kokani trotted up, gently placing Raipu on the ground as he groped for his canteen. Takua took a swig from his gourd, letting the cool water sooth his throat.

 

“Everybody alright?” he asked, wiping the sweat from his brow.

 

They nodded, and he took a moment to look at their surroundings. The  watery bamboo forest had dwindled away, leaving only palms, hardy reeds, and scrub grasses. The earth and the air were dry, and the leaves of the trees rustled with warm breezes. Such was the very edge of Po-Wahi.

 

“Hey, do you hear that?” Jaka asked no one in particular. He gazed toward a patch of palms to their left, curiously.

 

Takua closed his eyes and put a hand to his ear. Sure enough, he heard noises. A wide variety of chatter, metal clangs, and scrapes made their way to his ears, and he opened his eyes to look at Kokani. The Ko-Matoran hadn’t spoken a word to him since he had forced the decision to travel to Po-Koro, but that didn’t necessarily mean that Kokani was bitter. He had come with them, after all.

 

Kokani furrowed his brow, listening for a minute more before he looked back at Takua. “Come with me,” he said. Then, pointing to Jaka and Aya, “You two, stay with Raipu.”

 

Takua did as Kokani asked, and the two pushed their way into the thicket of palms and scrub grass. Stepping on dead leaves, Kokani held up his hand, and Takua made sure to tread as quietly as he could. They continued through the foliage until it began to thin out again, and Kokani sniffed the air.

 

Smoke… Takua thought as he did the same. Not the smoke of a campfire, though. This was...a heavy kind of smoke. The smoke of a forge, the smoke of smelting metal. Silently, Kokani parted the tall grass in front of them. Takua craned his neck, looking through the opening, and gasped.

 

There, carved out of the barren earth was the entrance to a giant cavern. The smoke of a hundred forges spilled out of it, and hundreds of Kryll pounded away at anvils, pouring molten metal into the shape of swords, axes, arrows, and pikes. Giant logs lay at the cave entrance, waiting to be cut and added to siege machines, and other instruments of war. Takua swallowed hard as he looked closer. Sure enough, just inside the cave entrance were thousands of little metal cylinders, and he knew that each one of them contained a grey-green gas with the capacity to poison the very air.

 

Thump-Thp.

 

Takua grabbed the Atouri as he felt the heartbeat in the back of his mind. The Kryll were preparing for war.

 

“We have to get out of here.” Kokani was backing up, a stern look on his face. “We have to leave, right now.”

 

Takua hesitated for a second, trying to take in more details of the scene, but the Ko-Matoran pulled him away, shoving him in the direction they had come from. They ran back to Jaka and Aya as fast as they could.

 

“What’s going on?” Jaka asked as they burst through the palm leaves.

 

“Hide!” Kokani hissed.

 

Without question they picked up their supplies and headed for a small ditch, surrounded by scrub grass. Takua and Jaka picked up Raipu, carefully laying him deep within the foliage. They only took only a second to crouch as low as they could, concealing themselves from the outside world. Then, they were silent.

 

Minutes passed by, and nothing happened. Takua started to doubt that anything was coming, but a moment later he heard footsteps. They clanked with the sound of heavy armor, drawing nearer and nearer. A cool breeze flew over him, and Takua felt his skin prickle with goose bumps. He dared to part the weeds, just enough to catch a glimpse of the figure that approached.

 

Even in this arid place, the sight of the being chilled him. It wore a cloak with a hood that shrouded its face, but he could see two black armored feet below the swaying fringe of the fabric. Takua’s spine tingled as the being turned his way, and he caught a glimpse of a black mask, one that he knew all too well.

 

Saku. He slid deeper into the ditch as he clutched the Atouri. It was the first time he’d laid eyes on the Toa since their encounter in Ko-Wahi, and conflicting emotions ran through him. He hated the Toa. It was him that had taken Talim away in the first place, but then he had offered to trade her, peacefully, for the stone. Takua knew Saku could’ve overpowered him and taken the Atouri at any time, so why had he done that? Why had he stretched out his hand, in what had seemed to be an offer of peace?

 

Takua closed his eyes and forced himself to breathe lightly, and slowly. Even as he tried to sort out the feelings of anger, confusion, and longing that flew through his head, he was certain of one thing: he feared the Toa of Shadow. In his mind, this being still haunted his dreams.

 

There was the sound of scraping armor as Saku looked around, scanning the area with his orange eyes. His gaze slowly passed over the hiding Matoran, only stopping when the Toa turned around at the sound of rustling leaves behind him. Quietly, the broad shape of a Kryll appeared. Takua slid even farther into the ditch as he recognized its gold armor, and red war paint.

 

“What did you see, Saku?” Krosis spoke, addressing the Toa as an equal.

 

“...Perhaps nothing." Saku took one last look at the grasses before continuing. "But I felt Makuta. He...called out to me.”

 

Krosis let out a small chuckle. “Your shadows seem to have fooled your own senses.” Saku did not reply, and instead continued to  scan the area. Krosis shrugged and spoke again. “Come, let us rest. We will need our strength. Tomorrow at dawn, we march.”

 

“Are your warriors ready?” Saku asked.

 

“The Matoran have oppressed my people for far too long.” Krosis smiled and his mandibles twitched. “They are more than ready.”

 

“And the gas?”

 

“Enough to poison all of Po-Koro.”

 

“Good.” Saku walked past the Kryll, and back into the forest. “The desert awaits us.”

 

Krosis turned to follow him, but paused and looked over his shoulder for a second. His beady eyes glanced over to Takua's patch of grass, hovering for only a second. Takua froze, a quick shiver pulsing down his body. He held his breath, afraid he'd been spotted...but Krosis turned again, and disappeared into the foliage.

 

He looked over at Jaka and Aya, and then to Kokani, processing what they had heard. They waited in silence until it was safe to come out of the grass, but even then no one spoke. Everyone knew what they had to do; they had to leave. They had to put as much distance between them and the Kryll as possible, and get to Po-Koro before they did. No one knew if the City of Stone had any knowledge of the incoming attack, but if they didn't, someone had to warn them.

 

And so it was that the five Matoran entered the Motara desert. The palms and grasses dwindled away, and the soil was overcome with sand. Dunes rose up around them like waves on the ocean, shifting ever so slowly with the hot desert winds. The mountains gradually shrank behind them, and not a cloud was to be seen in the sky. Always, the sun beat its rays upon them, and there was nothing but the curves of the dunes to offer them shade.

 

Walking grew increasingly difficult, for every step Takua took, he sank a few inches into the sand. They moved as fast as they could, but even with everyone taking turns carrying Raipu, their progress was mind-numbingly slow. With no plant life around, Kokani couldn’t replenish his herbs, and Raipu eventually awoke from his sleep. But he was still powerless to move himself, and he stared at the sand over the shoulders of whoever carried him, lost in his own thoughts as he dealt quietly with his pain.

 

As evening fell, the sun began to cast its colors all over the sky. Soon, the moon rose, the stars came out, and the desert grew cold, but Kokani made no move to stop. Takua was almost sure he planned on walking through the night, and as exhausted as he was, he knew they didn't have the luxury of rest. As it was his turn, Takua adjusted Raipu on his back and forced himself to carry on.

 

The moon made its way across the sky, and Takua noticed that the stars were slightly different here than in back in Le-Koro. Here, he didn't recognize some of the constellations. Only the red star remained constant, burning bright in the east.

 

Takua continued to trudge through the sand, growing wearier with every step, until they reached the bottom of a rather large dune, when suddenly he couldn’t move anymore. His legs buckled and he sank to his knees. Laying Raipu on the ground beside him. He took a swig from his gourd and sat there, breathing heavily as his legs burned.

 

Kokani stopped walking and looked around. Ahead of them they could see a few canyons and cliffs, and behind them they could see the mountains, just barely poking above horizon. Everything else was sand. The Ko-Matoran gazed forward, as if searching for something, but eventually he dropped his pack and sighed.

 

“We probably could use some rest.”

 

Aya and Jaka instantly sat down, throwing off their packs as they did. After a few moments of glorious rest, they turned their attention to Raipu, who hadn't moved from where Takua had lain him. The Po-Matoran was silent, staring at the ground through clouded eyes. His bandages were stained red, and he seemed to be mumbling to himself.

 

Takua offered to help Aya change his wrappings, and she graciously accepted. She unwrapped the Po-Matoran’s leg and handed the dark red bandages to Takua to bury. As he was doing so, a slight breeze came upon them, showering the group with sand from the top of a dune.

 

Raipu’s cloudy eyes suddenly became alert as he cried out. “Mata Nui…” he mumbled to himself. “Mata Nui…”

 

Aya cursed. “Takua give me your water. We need to get the sand out of his wound.”

 

Takua handed her his gourd and watched as Aya carefully trickled water over Raipu's mutilated side. The Po-Matoran clenched his teeth and winced, as if he were fighting off the urge to scream. When she was finished, she once again wrapped his leg with the last of the bandages from her pack.

 

“Raipu, don’t worry.” Takua said to him. “We’re going to get you to Po-Koro, and everything’s going to be alright.”

 

Raipu turned his head, reflecting the moonlight off his Hau, and Takua noticed something. He leaned in closer, examining his mask. The edges of Raipu’s Hau were rusted, forming pits in the worst places, and Takua remembered the small patch of rust he had found on his own Kanohi the other night. Suddenly, it clicked, and he had to stop himself from shuddering. The grey-green gas the Kryll’s explosives were laced with...it wasn’t just any poison.

 

Takua stared at Raipu as he quietly murmured to himself and coughed. He’d never seen it before, he knew enough to recognize it. It was something one heard about around campfires, something that the elders of Le-Koro would use to scare the youth and keep them in line. It was something that no one had seen in an age, but something that everyone secretly feared.

 

Raipu was infected with the Madness.


Edited by ZOMBI3S, May 24 2017 - 10:57 AM.

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#27 Offline ZOMBI3S

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Posted Feb 20 2013 - 02:58 PM

Chapter 5 - Descent Into Madness

 

 

Jaka half-ran, half-tumbled down the slope of the dune as he waved his arms, trying to get the group's attention. He had climbed the huge mound of sand earlier at Kokani's request to scout the area, and he had something to report.

 

As he barreled down the sandy slope, he saw Takua holding his water jug, trying to convince Raipu to drink from it. The Po-Matoran shook his head and shied away; he'd gotten much worse over the night. Raipu's actions went against reason, and most of the things that came out of his mouth didn't any sense.

 

"You need to drink, Raipu." Takua told the Po-Matoran as Jaka slid into view. "You'll shrivel up and become a raisin if you don't."

 

“Scouts!” Jaka interjected, breathing heavily.

 

”No...I don’t want any...” Raipu mumbled as Takua pushed the water toward his lips.

 

“Raipu, please...” Takua said.

 

”Kryll scouts!” Jaka hissed, seeing as no one was paying attention to him. “On the other side of the dune!”

 

At the sound of the word kryll, Kokani raised his hand and everyone stopped talking. Carefully he eyed the dune’s crest, waiting for the monsters to appear over it.

 

But Raipu continued his mumbling. “No, no, I don’t want any...” he said, even as Takua pulled back the water jug and shushed him.

 

”Raipu, you have to be quiet now, okay?” Takua whispered.

 

”No, stop talking to me...”

 

”Raipu, it’s for your own good. Please be quiet”

 

”Stop.” Raipu twitched and spoke again, this time even louder. “Stop!”

 

Kokani whirled around. “Shut him up!” he hissed.

 

Desperate, Takua put his hand over Raipu’s mouth, but the maddened Po-Matoran wouldn’t have it. His eyes lit up and he wrenched Takua’s arm away, pushing him over as he started yelling. “Don’t touch me!” he screamed, “Stop! Stop! Get out!”

 

”Take his mask off!” Kokani said, readying his blade as he nervously watched the top of the dune.

 

”No!” Aya stepped in as Takua got to his feet. “He’s lost too much blood, if you take off his Kanohi he could die!”

 

”What should we do then?”

 

Raipu’s fit escalated, and he was now screaming at the top of his lungs, seemingly for no reason. “Get out! Get out! Get out of my head!”

 

Kokani cursed as three figures appeared above them, silhouetted against the bright blue sky. The kryll stood watching them for a second, until one reached behind its back, pulling out what appeared to be a bow. “We’re leaving! Now!” The Ko-Matoran ordered.

 

”What about Raipu?” The screaming Po-Matoran had started thrashing about on the ground, and try as hard as he could, Takua couldn’t get a hold on him.

 

”I don’t care; tie him up if you have to!”

 

Thunk!

 

A barbed arrow buried itself in the sand beside Takua’s foot. He froze, staring at its red fletching as he processed what had just happened. Glancing up at the figures above them, he quickly realized he wouldn’t have the time to calm Raipu down.

 

”Jaka help me hold him” he yelled, and the Le-matoran came running with a length of rope. Aya scrambled to gather up their scattered belongings as Kokani managed to deflect an incoming arrow with his blade. It sunk into the sand a few feet to their left.

 

”No! Don’t touch me! Get off of me! No!” Raipu yelled as Jaka regretfully pushed him down, being careful not to apply too much pressure to his wounds. “Stop! Stop!”

 

Jaka clenched his teeth as he held to Po-Matoran’s arms together. “I’m sorry Raipu...” he said as Takua tied the rope around his wrists.

 

Thunk!

 

Another arrow slammed into the sand, this one a couple feet behind them.

 

”No! No! I hate you! I hate you!”

 

”We’re your friends, Raipu, whatever happens remember that.” Takua said as he forced his fingers to tie knots around his friend. “We’re going to Po-Koro, and you’re going to see Nika. She’s waiting for you.”

 

Jaka suddenly cried out, holding his right hand as blood gushed from his index and middle fingers. “He bit me!”

 

Ching! Kokani deflected another arrow, and he turned around. “I can’t keep this up forever!”

 

Aya ran up to Takua with a piece of cloth from her pack. Everything was ready to go: they were waiting on him. He looked at the cloth and she nodded silently. Guilt fell upon Takua’s shoulders as he took the cloth and twisted it into a gag. With bloody fingers Jaka held the Po-matoran steady, and Takua placed the cloth in Raipu’s mouth. His screams turned to muffled groans, and he looked up at Takua with fearful eyes, shaking behind his rusted mask.

 

”Raipu I’m so sorry.”

 

He tied the gag around Raipu’s head, positioned him on his back, and ran. The kryll’s arrows slammed into the sand at his feet, barely missing him as he sprinted to get out of range. His eyes fixed on the ground in front of him, he followed Jaka and Aya’s footsteps mindlessly as Raipu’s muffled screams penetrated his ears.Takua knew he should fear for his life. At any moment one of the kryll’s arrows could pierce through his armor, mortally wounding him. He wouldn’t be able to escape, and his friends would be forced to leave him behind as the kryll marched down the dune to claim his body. It would be painful. No doubt they would take the Atouri, perhaps even torture him. But no matter how hard he thought about it, he couldn’t force himself to care.

 

All he could hear was Raipu’s voice, muffled by the gag, but louder than anything in the world to Takua. He had tied his friend up like an animal, and in doing so he had stolen his humanity and turned him into a mindless rahi with an infected mask. With every step he felt worse, and the farther he ran the more the muffled sounds of  ‘I hate you, stop,’ sounded like  ‘Takua, please...’

 

They swerved and dodged as they went, and as luck would have it they managed to escape the kryll’s arrows. They twisted their way through the dunes, hoping the kryll wouldn’t be able to follow their trail, and it was hours until they slowed their pace back down to a walk. It wasn’t until that evening that they dared to stop and rest.

 

Takua silently stared at the ground as he sipped from his water jug. Jaka had cut a hole in his pack in order to bandage his hand, and Kokani and Aya shared a slice of stale bread. They were running low on supplies, and if they didn’t get to Po-Koro soon, well, Takua didn’t want to think about that.

 

He looked over to Raipu, who sat silently with his back up against a mound of sand. He had slipped into unconsciousness earlier that afternoon, and while his wounds seemed to have stopped bleeding, Takua knew that he couldn’t last much longer. He sighed as he looked at the Po-Matoran’s rusting mask. As much as he hated it, he knew Aya spoke the truth when she said that the Kanohi was the only thing keeping him alive.

 

Everyone was quiet now, but Raipu’s screams still hadn’t left his ears. As he gazed at the bound, dying Po-Matoran, Takua felt as if his insides were rotting, and he couldn’t take it anymore. He got up, walked over to Raipu and started untying his gag.

 

”I didn’t mean for it to be like this Raipu...” he said, even though the Po-Matoran probably couldn’t hear him. He removed the gag, revealing Raipu’s cracked, dry lips. His eyes were dark and sunken in, and only a small area in the middle of his mask remained free of rust. “I just wanted to help...”

 

Raipu’s eyes flickered open, and he stared at Takua for a moment. A bit startled, Takua quickly regained his composure and managed to smile at his friend.

 

"Hey, how are you?”

 

Raipu screamed. Out of nowhere the Po-Matoran pushed Takua to the ground and rolled on top of him, his fingers clamping around his throat. Takua gasped for air and pulled at Raipu’s arms, but the Po-Matoran’s grip was like iron.

 

"What’s he doing?”

 

"Get him off Takua!”

 

Takua wasn’t sure who was talking, but he managed to push Raipu back a tiny bit. “Raipu! It’s me! Takua!” he wheezed. He pressed his hand against Raipu’s mask as he struggled, and the Po-Matoran grimaced, tightening his jaw as he breathed heavily through his nose. Jaka and Kokani’s hands came into view, trying to force Raipu away, but his fingers were locked around Takua’s throat, and the Le-Matoran came with him.

 

"Raipu, listen to me! You’re killing Takua!” Jaka yelled. “You’re killing Takua!”

 

But Raipu wouldn’t budge. Spots flew in front of Takua’s eyes as he was cut off from the air. The Po-Matoran remained bent on choking the life out of him. With more strength than a dying Matoran ought to have, he resisted Kokani and Jaka’s attempts to separate him from Takua.

 

"He won’t let go!” Jaka yelled as he pulled at Raipu’s arms.

 

"I’m taking his mask off!” Kokani said, placing his hands on the top of Raipu’s Hau.

 

"You’ll kill him, Kokani! You can’t!” Aya’s voice rattled. She was scared.

 

"Do you have a better idea!?”

 

Takua tried to gasp for air, but the harder he tried to fill his lungs the more Raipu’s grip tightened. The rusted mask started to fade from view as Takua’s vision blurred.

 

"Raipu you have three seconds to let him go or I’m ripping this mask off you!”

 

The Po-Matoran paid no attention to Kokani’s words. His eyes were fixed on Takua’s, and his mask showed no sign of inner conflict or remorse.

 

"One!” Kokani’s grip tightened around Raipu’s Hau.

 

Still, Raipu wouldn’t budge. Jaka looked back and forth from Kokani to Raipu, his bloodied fingers balled into fists. Aya stood by herself with her hands on her mask, quietly praying.

 

“Two!”

 

"Mata Nui, please...”

 

With his waning vision, Takua saw a flicker behind Raipu’s eyes. It was barely noticeable, but then Raipu’s grip loosened. As suddenly as the attack had come, it stopped, and the mad Matoran’s eyes widened. He looked at Takua, who gasped as air returned to him. The two made eye contact for a moment.

 

"Get off me!” Takua shoved Raipu and stood up, clutching his bruised throat. He coughed as he walked away and stared at the sandy horizon, letting his head clear. Aya ran up to him, checking to see if he was alright.

 

Kokani and Jaka watched Raipu as he struggled to prop himself up on his elbows. It seemed the Po-Matoran’s strength was gone, and he looked over at Takua with a scared look on his mask.

 

"I’m sorry!” Raipu managed to say. “I didn’t mean to!” he stuttered, “I didn’t! I just, I couldn’t...” he started to shake. It seemed that his madness had regressed for the time being, but there was no doubt in anyone’s mind that it would return soon enough.

 

Takua said nothing. He was angry. He realized that Raipu was losing control of himself, but...well he wasn’t sure. Maybe he’d thought that after everything he’d done, the Po-Matoran would’ve been able to resist. Maybe he’d thought that everything they’d been through together would’ve meant something, and that would’ve helped Raipu stay in control. But apparently that wasn’t the case.

 

"He’s in my head!” Raipu pleaded, his body trembling as tears formed in his eyes. “He’s always there, it never stops!” Twitching, he looked for any sign of sympathy from the Le-Matoran. “I couldn’t...I can’t...resist...” Raipu trailed off, then looked up at Kokani, who stared down at him with white knuckles curled around his sheathed weapon. “You weren’t really going to...you know...” he paused, trying to read the Ko-Matoran’s mask. “...were you?”

 

Kokani’s stare was as cold. “I think you know the answer to that.”

 

Raipu froze for a moment, and then sank his rusted mask into his hands. His wrists and ankles still bound and his bandages still bloody, he lay alone in the sand, sobbing.


Edited by ZOMBI3S, Aug 21 2015 - 07:32 AM.

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#28 Offline ZOMBI3S

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Posted Mar 19 2013 - 07:05 PM

Chapter 6 - Echoes of Home

 

 

“Raipu,” Aya whispered. “It’s time to wake up.”

 

The Po-Matoran lay on the sand, unmoving. His rusted mask seemed fitting now, considering the shape he was in. His eyes were dark, his lips were cracked and dry, and his skin was tight and leathery. The bloody bandages wrapped around his side had dried, sticking to his wounds as dirt and sand crusted around their edges.

 

"Rapu…"

 

No answer.

 

Aya's eyes widened as the situation dawned on her. "Raipu!" She knelt down and placed her head on his chest, watching for any movement, and listening for a heartbeat. Both were very faint, but present. The Po-Matoran was still alive.

 

“We have to hurry." She turned to the rest of the group. “He’ll be dead by tomorrow morning if we don’t find him aid.”

 

Takua nodded as he threw his pack on his shoulders. His gourd bumped against his side, and he listened to the water slosh inside it. It was almost empty.

 

Quickly and quietly they packed up and set off in the direction of Po-Koro. The urgency of their situation had hit home, and they moved as fast as they could. Takua’s bruised throat stung as he breathed in the hot air, but he never complained. He refused to carry Raipu on the basis that he couldn’t breathe well enough for the burden, but in reality, he was just bitter. He knew he shouldn’t be, but he couldn’t help it.

 

They walked passed sand dunes and boulders and even a few canyons and cliffs, but no matter how fast they went, the horizon never got any closer. Po-Koro never appeared. It was true what Po-Matoran said about this endless desert: it never seemed to end.

 

Takua's lungs hurt, his legs ached, and his feet burned with every step he took. The sun blazed above him, bathing him in searing rays of heat and light. Takua pulled his water gourd out from his pack and took a sip. The water filled his mouth and cooled his sore throat, and he let out a sigh of relief as he separated the gourd from his lips. Without slowing his intense pace, he took another drink, but this time only a few drops found their way into his mouth. He shook it, waiting for more, but he quickly realized it was empty.

 

No, he thought. This can't be happening.

 

It seemed like only last night it was half full. He couldn't possibly have drank so much so fast...could he? He looked up at the sun. It glared down at him menacingly, and Takua began to panic. What would he do without water!?

 

Calm down. He told himself. With any luck they’d be in Po-Koro in a few hours, and he’d be alright. Yeah, he nodded to himself, deciding not to say anything. They had to be close by now.

 

But they weren’t. The hours passed, and the sun moved ever so slowly across the sky. He didn’t think it was right to ask the others for water. Kokani needed his, as he was carrying Raipu. Jaka had donated much of his to Raipu already, and Aya gave hers away to clean Jaka’s hand and Raipu’s side. But as day dragged on, the hot air ripped at his parched throat, and he knew he couldn’t go much longer.

 

Thunk! Takua turned around to find the source of the noise. Jaka had collapsed. His Kakama was face down in the sand, and he wasn't moving.

 

"Hey." Takua said to rest of the group in front of him, but they didn’t hear him and kept moving. "Wait up!" He managed to say. The words burned his throat.

 

Aya and Kokani turned around, and Takua got his first look at their masks since the morning. No one looked good. Aya’s Komau was covered in sweat, and her mouth hung open as she breathed heavily. Kokani looked a little better, but Takua could see through the quiet facade of his Akakau. He was exhausted from carrying Raipu, and being a Ko-matoran made him even more susceptible to the heat.

 

Takua offered his hand to Jaka, who looked up at him, but didn’t take it. He moved his mouth to speak, but no words came out of his cracked lips. He winced as he swallowed, and this time he managed to make quiet, raspy words.

 

“Do you have any water?”

 

Takua shook his head. “You don’t have any either?”

 

“Here,” Aya said as she walked over, holding her canteen. “There’s not much, but you can have what you need.”

 

Thankful, Jaka took it and sipped enough to speak again. “I don’t know if we’re going to make it guys…”

 

Takua looked at his friend, as it was strange to hear him talk like that. Jaka was always the one that found the positive side of life. He always managed to keep his spirits up, and he was always able to convince Takua to keep going, no matter how bad he felt. At least, that’s how it had worked in Le-Koro.

 

But this was a long way from the jungle.

 

“Come on,” Takua smiled as he offered his hand again. “We’re almost there; you can do this.”

 

Jaka took his hand and Takua pulled him up. The two looked at each other for a second, and Jaka nodded.

 

“It’s like a walk in the woods, right Takua?”

 

“Yeah,” Takua replied as they started walking again. “And when we’re done, we can go to the Twisted Nail and order a whole lake if we want to. Free refills.”

 

“A lake? I was going to order Naho Bay!”

 

Takua chuckled. Things didn’t look good, but what else could he do? Just keep walking, Takua he told himself. Put one foot in front of the other.

 

They walked on. The endless Motara desert continued, and still there was no sign of Po-Koro. For a brief period Raipu awoke, and Kokani gave him his water to drink. He finished off the canteen, just before slipping back into unconsciousness. As Aya took a small swig from her own supply, she too found it to be empty. They were officially out of water.

 

And still the desert sands continued.

 

Takua watched as his feet sunk slowly into the sand with every step. The sun burned him, his throat was dry, and he was slowly becoming less aware of the world around him. His Pakari was drenched in sweat, his pack made it feel like he was carrying a Muaka on his back, and even the Atouri seemed to pull him down to the ground. It dangled around his neck, glinting every so often in the sun as he trudged along. He looked up and barely managed to make out the green, white and blue shapes of Jaka, Kokani, and Aya just a few feet ahead of him.

 

Wait, what was that?

 

There, to his right, he saw something glimmering in the distance. Squinting his eyes, he could make out a white tower, shimmering in the desert heat. He almost jumped, thinking it to be Po-Koro, but as he stared he realized that it couldn’t be. It was too beautiful, too perfect for anything made by Matoran hands. It was a temple, so tall it could touch the clouds, so grand it made the Mangai look humble, and so beautiful it made all great carvings by Matoran look like a jumble of boulders.

 

And he was drawn to it.

 

Thump-Thp.

Takua, I am here.

 

He turned away from the others as he heard the whisper in his mind, walking towards the temple on his own. He recognized the voice. It was comforting; it felt like home. Talim…is that you? He asked the voice, but he received no reply. He continued walking. He had to make it to the tower.

 

Just one more step...

 

He continued walking.

 

He reached up to wipe the sweat off his Pakari, only to realize it was dry. He had stopped sweating. His body was drying up. Every step was an intense effort. His arms dangled loosely at his sides, and suddenly, his vision went black.

           

 

The beast of Saku stood behind him, dragging its clawed hands on the floor as drool fell from its fangs. Saku’s maddened eyes bored into his mind, they bored into his soul, but Takua couldn’t give up. He ran through the dark corridors of the temple's insides as fast as he could, but the beast was always with him. The twisted and deformed Toa hid in the shadows, invisible, but always there, always waiting, waiting for him. He had to make it to the top of the tower. He had to...

 

Thump-thp.

Give in, Takua. Give in to the void...

 

 

He could feel the heartbeat; the soft whisper of Makuta.

 

I could use some rest.... he thought.

 

His vision flickered back to him, and he found himself on his hands and knees, staring at the sand below him. He saw all the different grains; some were different colors. Most were tan, some were grey, and even some were black. He watched slowly as an ant crawled up from underneath the grains, and he smiled. Even here, life was possible. The tiny black insect crawled around, unaware of the giant Matoran above it. It felt the ground in front of it with its antennae, just before burrowing back into the earth again.

 

He forced himself to look up, and found himself staring at a large rock. Slowly, he gazed up as it came into focus, and he realized it was a carving: a giant Matoran head, hewn from a single boulder. It stared blankly past him, and Takua focused his eyes beyond the carving to see more stone heads, and where they stopped was a large rocky wall: the outer wall of Po-Koro. He sighed with relief as the sunk his head into the sand.

 

They’d made it.


Edited by ZOMBI3S, Mar 25 2014 - 10:37 AM.

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#29 Offline ZOMBI3S

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Posted Aug 17 2013 - 12:57 AM

Chapter 7 - The Coming Storm

 
 
Takua groaned and rubbed his eyes, trying to get the sleep out of them. The ceiling of fabric hung low above his head, and it brushed against the top of his mask as he sat up on his cot. Staring at the stone floor, he shook his head as he spoke to empty room.
 
Another dream about him...
 
It was the same one hed had back in Ko-Wahi, while trying to escape the Rahi-Nui. The same ivory tower called him towards its summit, but as he tried to reach it, Saku hunted him down. But, like the first time, it wasnt the Saku he knew. In his dreams, the Toa was warped and twisted. He became a monster, stalking him not to claim the Atouri, but to devour his flesh, to rip him apart with tooth and claw. Takua shuddered thinking about it, but quickly pushed it out of his mind. It was only a dream.
 
Getting up, he took his first clear look at the room. Upon reaching Po-Koro, the guards at the gate had rushed him and his company to the nearest healer, located just beneath Turaga Onewas tower. Dehydrated and hallucinating, Takua hadnt paid much attention to his surroundings, but as he gazed now at dimly lit room he felt like he was inside a tent, rather than a stone chamber. Cloth was hung from the ceiling and draped over the stone walls, and the stone floor felt cool against his feet as he stood up.  Aside from his lumpy cot and a cluster of candles, the room was empty.
 
Still feeling a bit dizzy, he took a swig from his water gourd. He wasnt sure what had happened to everyone else, but they had to be close. He left the room through an empty doorway, and after a short walk down a hallway, he found Aya and Jaka sitting in a circular chamber, sharing a loaf of bread and a pitcher of water.
 
Their faces lit up as he entered, taking a seat beside them on a padded bench. "Good morning," he said quietly.
 
"Sleep well? Want some bread? Its fresh!" Jaka greeted him cheerfully.
 
Takua nodded and took a slice as Aya filled up his gourd. "Kokani's talking with the Turaga. Were supposed to wait here until he gets back."
 
"Oh, check it out," Jaka added, his mouth half full of bread. He pulled out a small jar. "Jam!"
 
Still feeling a bit hazy, Takua took the jar and looked at the reddish-purple jelly. It was like seeing a long-lost friend, someone whom he'd completely forgotten about, but now that they were reunited all his memories came rushing back. How long had it been since hed had jam? Too long.
 
He spread the stuff on his bread and took a bite. The cool, fruity taste soothed his throat and he leaned back and closed his eyes. "This is delicious."
 
"Right?" Jaka seemed almost too excited about the concept. "So good!"
 
Aya rolled her eyes, instead content to bite into an apple that had been left by the healer. They three of them sat in silence for a bit, enjoying the presence of each others company until the sound of fabric being pushed away caused Takua to look up.
 
A Po-Matoran girl stood in the doorway, seemingly a bit younger than him. A light grey Kaukau rested on her face, concealing two big, blue eyes. She seemed uncertain about her surroundings, as if she was very worried. She was quite slim, and seemed a bit awkward from the way she carried herself, but it wasn't until Takua noticed her hands that he gave her his full attention. Her white knuckles grasped a rusted, scarred, and infected mask: Raipu's mask.
 
He stood up in an instant, letting his bread fall to the floor. "Raipu..."
 
The matoran's gaze traveled from Takua to Jaka and Aya, and slowly the corners of her mouth turned up. She let loose a sweet, innocent smile as she spoke up, letting her words tumble out.
 
"Hes going to be okay. Thank you all so much for what you've done for him."
 
There was a collective sigh of relief as everyone relaxed. Jaka turned to Takua and smiled. "We did it," he stated quietly.
 
Aya stood up and motioned to Takua and the girl. "Takua, this is Nika. You know, the one he told us about?"
 
Takua nodded at the girl, and she grinned back, her smile covering most of her mask. "Nika, its nice to finally meet you." He said cheerfully as he looked her up and down. So this was the girl who had managed to worm her way into Raipu's heart; this quiet, innocent girl with big blue eyes. The two were almost opposites, but it seemed fitting in a way.
 
"Its nice to meet you too!" She said cheerfully. "Would you like to come see him? He woke up just a little bit ago."
 
They nodded, and followed her through the doorway and into a winding passage. In a couple minutes they reached Raipu's room, and as Takua pushed back the cloth hanging in the doorway, he gazed on the weary Po-Matoran.
 
A brand new Hau rested on his face, replacing the infected one that Nika still held in her hands. It glimmered in the dim light as the healer changed his bandages, offering a stark contrast to his wounds and dirty armor. He looked much healthier since the last time Takua had seen him, and as Raipu turned to see who was entering and he made eye contact with Takua.
 
It was unsettling, so say the least
 
"Its good to see you getting better." Takua managed to say, breaking the moment of silence. He wasn't sure what to expect from his reunion with the Po-Matoran, but it wasnt this. Raipu said nothing in reply.
 
"Are you okay?" Jaka asked.
 
Raipu nodded his head quietly and turned his attention to Nika as she poured five cups of water from a pitcher that rested on the floor. She passed them out to everyone and raised her cup happily. "To friendship," she said as she smiled and looked at everyone around her, "for without it, Raipu wouldn't have ever made it home. Thank you, everyone."
 
"To friendship." Takua joined everyone as they murmured in response to the toast. He sipped the water, and looked back at Raipu, who now avoided his gaze. Nika, still happy at Raipu's recovery, seemed oblivious to the tension building in the room. But he felt it. He couldn't escape it. A question burned in his mind, but he shouldn't ask it. It was too soon, it would be rude
 
"What do you remember, Raipu?" Takua blurted out, cutting off his own thoughts.
 
The room went silent, and Raipu didnt move. Nika had placed the infected Hau in the corner of the room, and Raipu stared at it as he gripped his cup tighter and tighter, until his knuckles turned white. Finally, he managed to speak.

"Everything."
 
Takua nodded. He had hoped for otherwise. The events of the Motara desert wouldn't be forgotten; they wouldn't be pushed away. He knew that Raipu couldn't control himself, and that he had only done what was necessary to keep them both alive, but in the end they had both wronged each other, in ways not easily let go. Nothing would be forgiven, and nothing would be forgotten.

 

 

~~~

 

          
The sun was setting, and it highlighted the western side of every building in the city. Countless clay and rock houses were piled up and around each other, only stopping to give way to narrow city streets or giant towers that soared up above the city's walls.Takua could even see the koli field on the far end of the city; the decline of seats led down to the field, which was sunken into the ground so that all could see the game. The great rock walls loomed behind the field, providing shelter and defense from the harshness of the desert.

 
Takua gazed out from the balcony he found himself on, connected to a large conference room with one wall open. A long table with many chairs sat in the center of the room. Kokani stood at one end of the table, and the door closed behind him to reveal the small shape of one Takua instantly recognized to be Turaga Onewa.
 
The two Matoran bowed in respect, but before either of them could say anything the Turaga spoke up. "So this is the boy?" He shuffled over to Takua and inspected him.
 
"This is him." Kokani nodded. After meeting with Raipu, a messenger had been sent to Takua stating that the Turaga requested counsel with him and Kokani.
 
Takua looked at Onwea as the Turaga inspected him. He was extremely old, just like Turaga Nuju. His mask was scarred and pitted, and he relied heavily on his staff to walk.
 
"I pictured you taller, Takua." Onewa said.
 
"...sorry?"
 
The Turaga looked him up and down. He paused and fingered the Atouri around Takua's neck for a moment. "I don't understand. Why him? What's so special about him? He looks like any other matoran."
 
"It was Matau's wish." Kokani said, almost automatically.
 
"Hmm." Onwea cleared his throat. "Mata Nui works in mysterious ways indeed."
 
The setting sun shone through the archway to the balcony, casting an orange glow over the whole room. "Am I correct in saying that you have come here to warn me of the approaching kryll? Po-Koro is a bit out of the way if you are traveling to Ga-Koro."
 
"They are much more powerful than we thought." Kokani replied. "They have siege towers, catapults, battering rams; their army was built to break your walls, Turaga."
 
"I do not doubt you, Kokani. They have been growing stronger for years now. It was only a matter of time until this happened."
 
"Krosis and Saku are with them."
 
"Saku is dangerous, but he holds no power over the kryll. He will be present only as Makuta's eyes; to make sure Krosis carries out his wishes." Onewa leaned against his staff and sighed. "But Krosis is a fierce leader. He has united the kryll from separated tribes into a powerful empire, and he leads his people with passion and fire. They will kill for him, and they will die for him." He looked back at Kokani. "I must ask you: will you fight for us?"
 
Kokani looked at the Turaga, a bit taken aback from the request. Then, with unblinking eyes he answered. "No."
 
"My scouts tell me that their forces are five thousand strong. Our city guard measures five hundred. We are a city of traders, not warriors. We will not survive this battle without you, Kokani."
 
"I am only one Matoran. You talk as if I can change the tide of battle."
 
"You know why I say that."
 
Kokani stared at the Turaga for a moment then turned to Takua. "Were leaving, Takua. Clearly the Turaga is having delusions."
 
"Wait, what?" Takua stumbled as Kokani started pushing him towards the door. Kokani acted as if Onwea had insulted him. "I just got here!"
 
"We need you Kokani! You know that more than anyone!" Onewa's voice scratched as the Ko-Matoran walked away.
 
"I have no duty to your people, nor is it my destiny to die with you here." Kokani snapped as he closed the door, separating them both from the Turaga.
 
Takua looked at Kokani, wondering what the Turaga had meant. He wanted to ask, but he knew Kokani wouldn't give him and answer. He never did. "So what do we do now?"
 
Kokani sighed "I don't know, Takua."
 
He walked down the hall in the direction they had come from and Takua followed him, confused and worried about what the coming hours would bring. The kryll were too close for them the leave the city and make a break for Ga-Wahi, but if they stayed in the city they could very well end up dead, or as prisoners to the kryll. Takua struggled to think of which he would prefer.
 
The great shells located on top of the tallest towers sounded, and the low bass note carried all over the city. It was the call to arms, a sound that hadn't been heard in an age. The people of Po-Koro looked up in fear and panic at the sound, and the streets came alive with Matoran running to their homes, running to safety, running to protect themselves from the as of yet unknown threat.
 
At the horizon, the desert sands were engulfed in grey. Two storms were rapidly approaching: one, a storm of wind, water, and lightning, and the other, a storm of blades, axes, and arrows. The kryll were on their way.


Edited by ZOMBI3S, Mar 09 2015 - 04:01 PM.

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#30 Offline ZOMBI3S

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Posted Dec 26 2013 - 12:45 AM

Chapter 8 - The Drums of War

 

 

Kokani pushed back the cloth that acted as a door to the healer’s quarters. Takua entered behind him, and the two found Aya and Jaka sitting where they had left them just a few hours ago. Their bags were packed and they seemed ready to move at a moment’s notice.

 

“We’re leaving.” Kokani said shortly. It was obvious he was in a bad mood. “But we don’t have the time or supplies go straight to Ga-Koro.”

 

Jaka and Aya both gave him worried looks, but Kokani continued before they could say anything.

 

“The kryll will be here by nightfall at the latest, so leaving through the main gate is out of the question. As much as I hate to admit it, our only option is to take the tunnels to Onu-Koro. It’s a large detour, but,” he glanced at Takua, “I suppose we’re used to taking those by now.”

 

“Hey, I did what I thought was right, and I have to say that that worked out pretty well!” Takua defended himself.

 

“Both of you, shut up!” Aya said. There was a moment of silence as Kokani and Takua turned to look at her. “It’s Raipu,” she said, her mask worried. “He’s gone.”

 

 

~~~

 

 

Takua ran through the crowded city streets. People were yelling and crying, running this way and that, carrying their valuables, holding the hands of children, and even stealing from abandoned market stalls. Guards and soldiers were shouting orders, carrying timber to reinforce the main gate, and otherwise readying the city for war. It was chaos.

 

Takua shook his head. As Aya had put it, she and Jaka were packing up their supplies when Nika had burst in, muttering about how Raipu had mentioned joining the soldiers, and then he disappeared. Takua and Jaka went one way to look for him, and Aya and

Kokani went another, following Nika.

 

Of all the times to run off, why now? Takua thought as he shoved his way into the city square. What was Raipu thinking? They had to leave the city before the kryll arrived, and considering that Raipu’s wounds were still healing, there was no way that he’d be able to fight. Takua scrambled on top of a large crate, trying to see over the hundreds of panicked Matoran.

 

As he did, the giant shells sounded, drowning out the noise of the crowd in three short bursts. Out from the chaos, a slow trickle of Matoran started to gather in the center of the square, and members of the guard appeared and invited them into the town hall. Takua watched as the large wooden doors of Po-Koro’s arsenal were shoved open and guards started handing out spears, shields, and bows to the common people.

 

Turaga Onewa’s voice reached Takua’s ears from across the square. “Makuta is upon us!” The Turaga yelled. “If you are willing and strong enough, I welcome you to join the ranks of our guard! It is time we fight!”

 

Those who had already been given armor and weapons were moved to areas where members of the guard instructed them about their stations and how to fight. Eventually, the small trickle of Matoran answering the call to battle became a stream, then a river. Slowly but surely, the army of Po-koro began to form.

 

“Do you see him anywhere?” Jaka asked Takua.

 

"No, but if he went to join the soldiers, I bet he’s at that arsenal.”

 

The two hopped down from their crate and pushed their way across the square, calling out Raipu’s name as they did. More Matoran had gathered, and not only militia. Women, children and the elderly were also standing about; talking to each other nervously, wondering what was going on and what kind of threat approached the city. As Takua pushed his way through the scene, he noticed the Turaga standing atop a pile of crates so that he was visible to everyone.

 

“Citizens of Po-Koro!” He addressed them. Their chatter gradually died down as all eyes turned toward him. “As you know, the great warning shells have been blown, which means evil is knocking on our doorstep. An army of kryll is approaching us, one designed to capture our city.”

 

The crowd gasped and murmured.

 

“Kryll?”

 

“What do they want with us?”

 

Many heads turned to watch as a few squads of militia jogged past, heading for the walls as their armor glinted in the sun. They looked like strong, disciplined, full-time soldiers, trained to do what was necessary to protect the city. But as Takua watched them march, he couldn’t help but feel sad. He knew that underneath their helmets, he would see looks of fear. Just minutes ago they were common people receiving weapons and armor at the arsenal. Very few of these soldiers had ever seen combat.

 

Onewa continued his speech. “All those able to fight, I invite you into the hall, where you will be armed and positioned for the safety of our people! As for those unwilling or unable, I suggest you flee to the caves in the back of the city. You will be safe there. I have sent word to our brothers in Onu-Koro, and I know they will come to our aid if need be.”

 

Takua and Jaka finally managed to push their way out of the throng of Matoran, and ran up to the nearest guard, who was handing out shields to whoever would take them.

 

“Have you seen a Po-Matoran about our age wearing a Hau?” Takua asked him.

 

The guard gave him a bland look. “I’ve seen about a hundred Matoran like that. Whoever you’re looking for, they’re probably already on the main wall.”

 

Takua cursed. “Come on, Jaka.”  He said as the two ran in the direction of the main gate. As they did, the last words of Turaga Onewa’s speech flooded their ears.

 

“But do not be afraid! We are the people of stone! We shall not fall to those who bring steel and fire against us! We have pushed back Makuta before, and we shall do it again! We shall be victorious!”

 

The two Matoran pushed their way past guards and citizens alike, but the closer they got to the gate the more of the former were present. They hurried about in groups of ten or twelve, shouting orders and carrying timber and stone and rope and fire, and any other material that would be useful in the coming battle. The sound of gears clanking reached their ears as massive catapults situated on the walls were readied and loaded with boulders. Armor clanked and shields scraped as swords and spears were sharpened, but as Takua and Jaka drew near the main gate, another, much more ominous sound reached their ears.

 

Boom, ba-boom. Boom, ba-boom.

 

Takua paused as he heard it and looked back at Jaka. The booming repeated itself, never pausing more than a few seconds. “What is that?”

 

Jaka closed his eyes and focused on the far-away sound, trying to block out all the clanks and scrapes that were happening all around them. After a moment or two, Jaka opened his eyes.

 

“Drums.”

 

Takua turned around and stared at the huge stone wall in front of them. They were drums; that much was certain. Giant drums sounding from the endless sands on the other side of the wall. Drums being pounded repeatedly as thousands of beings marched towards them, ready for battle, ready for bloodshed. The drums of war.

 

Without saying a word Takua sprinted for the wall. They were running out of time, and Raipu was still out there. He climbed the nearest staircase to the top of the wall and looked around. There were guards everywhere. They stood side by side at the edge of the parapet, staring out into the desert as if to welcome to the incoming army. Their motionless armor shined in the setting sun as the kryll’s drums pounded and pounded.

 

Boom, ba-boom. Boom, ba-boom.

 

Takua walked along behind them, trying to see beneath each guard’s helmet as he moved past. Every mask he saw looked scared, nervous, or completely devoid of emotion. But he didn’t see Raipu.

 

Boom, ba-boom. Boom, ba-boom.

 

The drums were growing louder by the minute, and eventually the sounds drifting up from the city floor began to subside. The clanking and scraping and hammering slowly fell silent as the workers and guards looked up towards the top of the wall with fear. The sound of the drums echoed against the walls of houses and towers, reverberating in every being’s ears.

 

Boom, ba-boom. Boom, ba-boom.

 

Takua felt Jaka tap him on the shoulder, and his friend pointed at a member of the guard standing a dozen feet in front of them. The being was clad in the same armor as everyone else, but he leaned on his spear and clutched his side. He swayed back and forth ever so slightly, as if he had been wounded, wounded in the exact same spot as Raipu.

 

“Raipu!” Takua yelled.

 

The guard fidgeted and turned to look at them, revealing a shiny new Hau. Raipu looked shocked at their appearance, but quickly regained his nerve as they ran up to him.

 

“I’m staying.” He said calmly.

 

“No, you’re not.” Jaka said. “You’re coming to Onu-Koro with us. There’s still time to get out of here!”

 

Raipu looked at them both. “This is my home. I already lost Le-Koro. I’m not going to stand by while Po-Koro falls too!”

 

A hand pushed Takua out of the way before he could say anything, and Kokani walked past him. The Ko-Matoran looked at Raipu, dressed in the armor of the Po-Koro guard, leaning on his staff and clutching his side.

 

“You’re going to die, Raipu.” He said coldly.

 

Raipu was taken aback, but he opened his mouth anyways. “You don’t know that!”

 

“I do.” Kokani looked at the Po-Matoran’s Hau, letting his words sink in. “I’ve seen enough bloodshed to know that you’re not a warrior. Go with them. Nika and Aya are waiting at the entrance to the caves. Live to see another day.”

 

“I won’t!”

 

Kokani leaned over and hissed in Raipu’s ear. “Tell me Raipu, are you a hero? Do you have the strength of the toa? Can you change the course of battle? Because somehow, I don’t think so. Somehow, I think that if you fight in this war, you’ll die. You’ll die just like every other Matoran standing on this wall, and no one will remember you. No one will tell the tale of how you valiantly fought and died for your people, and no one will sing songs about your courage in the face of death. No matter what you do, this city will fall, and no one is coming to save it. Whether you like it or not, the Toa have been gone a long time. Heroes don’t exist anymore.” Kokani paused as Raipu looked up at him, his eyes confused and scared. “So don’t try and be one.”

 

Bwaaaaaaam!

 

A deep bass note sounded from beyond the wall. It vibrated though the air, waxing and waning for a few moments as everyone stood still. Takua watched as Kokani and Raipu stared at each other, and with every passing second that the note played, more and more spirit was drained from the Po-Matoran’s eyes. By the time the kryll’s battle-horn cut off the note from the air, Raipu’s will to fight was gone, and there was only silence to fill the gap. It was time.

 

The masses of kryll yelled and chanted and roared, and all at once their catapults were let loose. The giant heads of the war machines flew upward, sending flaming boulders soaring through the air. Takua watched in horror as they soared over the walls and smashed into buildings, crushing them and setting fire to the ruins. Matoran screamed and cried, guards yelled to ready their own catapults for the counter attack, and chaos, once again, reigned.

 

“Come on!” Kokani yelled as he covered his head turned to leave.

 

Raipu hesitated only a moment before following him, clutching his side and hanging his head in despair. Jaka walked behind him, making sure he didn’t stumble, and the three made their way off the wall, heading for safety.

 

As Takua turned to follow them, his eyes caught the empty space left by Raipu in the line of guards. Ever so slightly, he leaned his head to see over the wall, and the sight terrified him.

 

Thousands upon thousands of kryll stretched as far as the eye could see, chanting and beating their weapons together.  Dozens of siege towers and catapults dotted their ranks, and the light of a thousand torches shone out in the dying daylight. And the whole time the drums pounded, sending their message to everyone in the city of Po-Koro: the kryll were coming. Death was coming.

 

Boom, ba-boom. Boom, ba-boom.

 

Takua turned and ran. The battle for Po-Koro had begun.


Edited by ZOMBI3S, Mar 09 2015 - 04:02 PM.

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#31 Offline ZOMBI3S

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Posted Dec 31 2013 - 03:33 PM

Chapter 9 -  Heroes

 

 

Takua flew down the stairs and off the top of the wall, running in the opposite direction of the kryll. Terrified Matoran sprinted about the streets, and the more distance Takua put between him and the wall the more Matoran were present. He was eventually forced to shove his way through them in order to keep up with his friends, and even then he seemed to be losing ground.
 
"Hey!" he called out. "Wait up!" Straining to see above the heads of other Matoran, he briefly made eye contact with Jaka, but then the crowd shifted, cutting off his gaze. He cursed and pushed his way through as fast as he could.
 
"Citizens to the caves!" Takua heard to his left, and turned to see Turaga Onewa and a guard directing Matoran about. More shouts sounded from behind him. But these shouts weren't directing the people, they were shouting for cover; shouting at others to look up, to watch the sky.
 
Takua knew what that meant. Thinking quickly, he knelt down and covered his head, just seconds before boulders crashed into the city around him, shattering the clay houses and raining rock and dirt upon the people. The barrage lasted only a few seconds, but people were screaming, and chaos erupted. They surged forward, paying no attention to Takua as he struggled to get up. Knees and elbows smacked him as Matoran ran past, and it took more strength than should have been necessary just to get back to his feet. He was about to start moving again, but then
 
Crash! A giant boulder smashed into a building to his left, just above where the Turaga was standing. The building crumbled, letting loose a plume of dust as it collapsed on top of Onewa and his guard.
 
Takua looked over in shock, wondering what to do. In the chaos he'd lost his friends, and he knew he had to stay with them. But it seemed as if no one had even noticed the Turaga. Cursing to himself, he pushed Matoran out of his way as he made for collapsed building. He slid to a stop at the foot of the rubble as he looked around frantically for any sign of life. There! Just to his right he could see Onewa's guard, buried up to his waist in shattered clay bricks. He ran over and started pulling rubble off the Matoran.
 
"Are you alright?"
 
"Im fine!" the guard yelled as he managed to free one of his legs. "Wheres the Turaga?"
 
"I dont know!"
 
Takua grunted as he pulled more dirt and clay off the Matoran. It only took a few minutes, and very soon the guard stood up, shaking the dust off his armor. "Over here!" The guard yelled as soon as he was free. He hurdled what remained of the boulder and began pulling at pieces of the collapsed building.
 
Takua followed him. The Turaga's staff stuck out of the rubble, bent and broken. And there, just a few feet from it was a hand. Onewa's hand. He helped the guard dig through the collapsed building, throwing chunks of it behind them as they desperately tried to uncover the Turaga. They threw back armful after armful, and slowly the Turaga became visible. The guard plunged his hands into the rubble and lifted, and Onewa coughed as he was pulled back into the sunlight. He screamed in pain.
 
"Turaga! Whats wrong?"
 
Turaga Onewa motioned toward his leg, still covered in the rubble, and Takua jumped into action. A large timber and collapsed on it, and it took all his might just to move the beam. With a scraping sound he lifted it a few inches, and the guard freed the Turaga from the pile. Just as Takua let the beam back down and staggered out of the rubble, he saw Kokani pushing his way towards them, through the throngs of Matoran.
 
"Whats going on? Takua where have you been?" Kokani said as he slid to a stop.
 
"Never mind the boy," Onewa gasped as he motioned for the guard to find a healer. "Hes a good lad. But he has to flee with the others now."
 
"Good." Kokani said, motioning for Takua to come with him.
 
Onewa grabbed Kokani's arm as he turned away. "But while youre here Kokani, please..." he stopped to wince in pain. It was obvious from his dented armor that his leg was broken. "Reconsider my offer."
 
"We have to go now, Takua." came Kokanis curt reply, completely ignoring the Turaga.
 
"Kokani, please..." Onewa said as he coughed, spewing dust from his lungs. "What about unity? What about duty?"
 
"I have my own duty I must perform. And it is not my destiny to die here."
 
"It pains me to say this, but we need you. My days of battle are over, and I am no commander. You give my people hope, much more than I could ever give them now. Please, I need you to lead my troops."
 
"I will not lead your people to death. Kokani abruptly answered. Hope or no hope, you cannot win this battle. You are outnumbered ten to one, for Mata Nui's sake. When the kryll break your walls everyone in this city will die, and there is nothing either of us can do about it."
 
"I know." The Turaga said as he gripped his leg in pain. "But you can at least buy us time. I have received word from Illum, and our brothers in the underworld are sending their best soldiers to help us. Once the citizens are in the caves we can take the tunnels to Onu-Koro, where we will be safe. Po-Koro will fall, but its people will survive."
 
Kokani shook his head.
 
Onewa locked eyes with Kokani and gripped his arm tighter. "The kryll will storm the caves and slaughter us like animals without you, all I ask is that you buy us some time."
 
"Goodbye, Turaga." He wrenched his arm free from Onewas grasp and started to walk away.
 
"Don't throw this away!" Onewa yelled. In his crippled state, it was all he could do to keep Kokani's attention. Then, his voice went deeper, and took on a more commanding tone. "I'm giving you a chance to save lives! You can still make up for the ones you've ruined."
 
Takua watched as Kokani froze and looked over his shoulder. The chaos of the streets seemed to stop for a moment, and the sounds of battle went quiet. Takua glimpsed that unnerving fire in Kokani's eyes, but like always, a second later it was gone. Kokani turned around to face Onewa.
 
"If I dont make it back, you must watch over him." He said, motioning to Takua. "He has to reach Ga-Koro."
 
"I will do everything in my power." Onewa answered.
 
"What?" Takua blurted in. "Kokani you cant just leave! We need you!"
 
Kokani knelt down so he was at eye level with Takua. "Go to the caves and meet up with the others. Aya can look after you, she knows the way. Shes a good fighter, too."
 
"But, what about you?"
 
"With any luck Ill see you in Onu-Koro."
 
Takua didn't expect to feel so strongly about this. He and Kokani hadn't exactly ever seen eye to eye, but the thought of him leaving was terrifying. Kokani was the only reason they'd made it this far. Kokani was the reason he'd eluded Krosis and Saku; he was the reason he made it to Nuju's council; he was even the reason he made it out of Le-Koro! All of his adventures, everything that had happened so far, all of that was because of Kokani.
 
"You know that's not going to happen!" He blurted out. "You know how this is going to end!"
 
Their conversation stopped for a moment as a boulder crashed into a house across the street. Matoran screamed as the structure collapsed. "You need to go now, Takua." Kokani said, and turned away, walking towards the gate. Towards the chaos.
 
Takua's voice cracked. "Remember what you said to Raipu!? Heroes don't exist! So don't try to be one!"
 
"Dont be a fool, Takua." Kokani paused only a second to look over his shoulder. The corners of his Akaku turned up, and he smirked. "Heroes will always exist, as long as you believe in them."
 
And with that, Kokani was swallowed up by the crowd, leaving Takua alone with the injured Turaga.
 
Takua stood there for minutes unmoving, refusing to believe what had just happened. Kokani was gone, probably never to return, and here he was, alone in a city under siege. He didn't move as the healer came to put Onewa's leg in a splint and wrapped up his injuries. It was only when he felt a hand on his shoulder that he snapped back to reality, turning around to see Jaka and Aya staring at him, worried.
 
It was Jaka who spoke first. "Wheres Kokani?" he asked quietly.
 
Takua looked him in the eye and swallowed. "We have to go, Jaka."
 
They turned around and made for the caves, and Takua explained what had happened on the way. It took them quite a while to reach the back of the city due to the masses of people, but by the time they did everything was much calmer.
 
The entrance to the caves stood at the far end of a large courtyard, and presented as a gaping hole in a rock mesa, easily thirty feet wide at the base. No barrier separated the caves from the rest of the city. A steady stream of people entered the blackness, lighting the way with torches and lanterns.
 
When they reached the entrance Takua stopped. He turned around to look towards the front gate, now barely visible over the buildings. The kryll's drums sounded like far-off thunder now, and the chaos of battle seemed a world away. Here, everything seemed at peace.
 
"He better come back from this," Takua said, trying to convince himself that he would see Kokani again.
 
"He will," Aya replied.
 
Takua looked at her. "How do you know?"
 
"If you've been around the places I've been," Aya smiled as she walked through the entrance. "You'd know that you just can't kill a Matoran like Kokani."
 
Takua watched the gate for a moment more before following his friends into the blackness of the underworld. "I hope you're right."


Edited by ZOMBI3S, Feb 08 2014 - 08:48 PM.

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#32 Offline ZOMBI3S

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Posted Jan 26 2014 - 04:31 PM

Chapter 10 - The Way of Battle

 

 

“Ready the catapults!” Kokani heard from overhead. The creaking of wood and rope followed. “Fire!”

 

Ropes snapped and giant flaming boulders were let loose from their holders, sending them smashing them into the sea of kryll approaching on the other side of the wall. A few seconds passed, and boulders came flying over the walls as the kryll returned fire. They smashed into buildings and crushed any unfortunate soldier in their way. Kokani gave himself a mental smack. The battle for Po-Koro had begun. It was time to fight.

 

Kokani ran up the stairs to the top of the wall, but ducked and was forced to cover his head as chunks of rock flew over him. Gravel and dust erupted from the blast, reducing visibility of the already dusty air to no more than a few feet. Orders were being shouted all around him and he heard the creaking of ropes, signaling the counterattack was coming.

 

Kokani looked behind him as he heard more screams, and seconds later more flaming boulders slammed into the walls, forcing him to duck again. He waited a few moments until the dust cleared, and peered over the wall.

 

The swarming kryll were only a couple hundred feet away from the base of the wall now, and their numbers truly showed. They completely covered the desert sands far to the left and right, and there were uncountable rows of more kryll behind them. The siege towers and ladders stood in front, slowly creeping their way towards the walls.

 

“Ready your bows!” He yelled at the Matoran stationed near him. They obeyed without questioning who he was. Po-Koro’s troops were already in disarray, with too little officers to command them. “Fire!”

 

Arrows shot through the air and landed among the masses of kryll below. Some were felled, but the vast majority continued on.

 

“Ram!”

 

“The ram! Bring it down!”

 

The yelling drew Kokani’s attention to the main gate, where to his horror he saw a giant battle ram fast approaching. It was armored on all sides, and the Po-Matoran’s arrows harmlessly bounced off it.

 

“Take out that ram!” He yelled to the catapults.

 

Matoran operating the war machines turned their cranks and the catapult slowly twisted in the direction of the ram. They loaded a boulder in the hatch and prepared to launch.

 

“Fire!”

 

The boulder flew up in the air. It careened toward the ram and smashed into the ground just short of it, killing a few unlucky kryll.

 

“Readjust and fire again!” Kokani ordered.

 

A boulder smashed into the wall just to Kokani’s left, sending debris everywhere. He coughed and rubbed his eyes. Something flew over the walls toward the catapult, but he wasn’t able to tell what it was.

 

The dust cleared, and as he looked he found the soldiers at the catapult staring cautiously at metal cylinders with blinking lights.

 

“Move! Run!” He ordered.

 

Too late. The explosives went off, and the catapult was torn to shreds. The Matoran were gone, either destroyed in the blast or blown off the wall. Slowly, a cloud of poison grey-green gas expanded from the scene. Kokani cursed and covered his mouth as he ran from the scene.

 

“Take out that ram!” He yelled to the other catapults as he sprinted towards the gate. It only took him a minute to reach it, and he quickly slid down the steps, into the dusty streets. The last of the civilians were running past him, heading for the caves on the other end of the city.

 

“To the gate! Quickly!” Came the shouts of other officers and soldiers. The Matoran army focused its attention on the ram, throwing whatever they could at it, from flaming arrows to boulders to even primitive disks. Still the ram would not fall. The great steel tipped tree trunk smashed into the gate, creating a loud thud that sounded throughout the battle. Kokani ran with many other soldiers to help reinforce it. Extra timbers were piled across it and soldiers pushed against the giant wooden doors in a desperate attempt to keep them from flying open. Others stood back and readied their weapons, waiting for whatever may burst through.

 

“Reinforce the gate!” He called out to a group of soldiers running past. “You there, find some timber and help reinforce the gate! They shall not break through!”

 

Slam! The ram on the other side of the gate unleashed its attack, forcing the soldiers back and splintering some of the wood. The deafening boom forced everyone in the area to wince for a second.

 

“Yes sir!” The group of soldiers replied. Then, in lower voices to themselves, “Did you see that? That was Kokani!”

 

“He fights with us?”

 

Kokani caught the piece of conversation just as the soldiers ran off to a building to salvage materials. Another crack came from the gate, pushing down support beams and cracking the great doors. The soldiers pushing against it yelled and were pushed back a few feet, only to slam their bodies against the gate once more as soon as the attack stopped.

 

“Steady!” Kokani called out. “Every moment you hold that door gives your families another moment of freedom!” The ram slammed into the gate again. Hinges groaned and timbers snapped in half as the ram’s attacks continued. Kokani yelled out again, “No matter how hard your body screams at you to stop, you will not surrender! You are soldiers of Po-Koro and Mata Nui! You will hold!”

 

More and more soldiers gathered at the gate, preparing for the worst. Some looked back at their Ko-koronan officer, wide eyed with astonishment.

 

"Kokani!" They whispered to each other.

 

The ram slammed again, cracking the main lock in half. Kokani caught a glimpse of the kryll, waving their weapons and chanting in their horrible voices.

 

“No matter what comes through that door, you will hold!”

 

Boom! The main brace of the gate cracked. The kryll on the ram pulled back on their ropes one last time, in preparation for their final assault. The ram smashed into the gate, bursting through the main brace and smashing a hole through the wood and metal. Dust flew everywhere, obscuring Kokani's vision. The Po-koronan soldiers who were close enough gazed in horror at the steel tip of the ram as it pulled back one more time.

 

"Regroup!" Kokani yelled to the soldiers near the gate. "Fall back to me and form a line! Reform ranks!"

 

The soldiers scrambled to do as they were told. Kokani stood with them, blade drawn, waiting for the final attack. He watched through the dust as the ram pulled back once more, and fell forward again.

 

Kra-koom! The gates burst open.

 

Kokani’s heart skipped a beat. Instead of the storming chaos he was expecting, all was quiet. No kryll came rushing in to fight and kill. Nothing moved except for the rising dust that obstructed his view of the hoard outside.

 

“Steady!” he called out. The soldiers stood silent, their weapons drawn even with Kokani. “Whatever comes out of that dust, you will hold. You will­— “

 

Kokani shut his mouth as dozens of metal cylinders came flying out of the dust. They landed harmlessly around and throughout the soldiers. Tiny red lights blinked and quiet beeps went off everywhere.

 

"Run!" Kokani ordered as he ran and jumped away. "Get out of the way!" he covered his mouth and nose, ready for the gas.

 

The soldiers scrambled to go somewhere, anywhere, away from the tiny metal cylinders, but for many of them it was too late. They went off, absolutely decimating Kokani's line. Blood and gore and grey-green gas flew through the air, infecting any who were caught within the cloud. Kokani looked on at the horrid scene from where he had rolled against a wall.

 

Suddenly he heard the deafening screams of kryll, and the sound of feet running towards them. The beasts came into view, wielding spiked maces and heavy armor.

 

“Berserkers! Reform the line!” He yelled to anyone around who could still fight.

 

The kryll stood almost twice as tall as a Matoran, and were covered in spiked armor plating. Kokani tried to blot out their horrible howl as they came at him, but it was no use. He stared straight at the leader.

 

“Charge!” He told his fidgeting men.

 

They ran at the beasts, yelling. Kokani reached the first berserker and quickly dodged a massive arm by sliding between the beasts legs. He sprang up and struck with his spear, piercing flesh through a crack in the armor. The kryll howled in pain. Kokani yanked the blade out of the beasts back as it turned around and slammed it’s mace into the ground just to Kokani's left. He struck again while the beast’s mace was stuck in the ground, and promptly lopped off its hand. Blood leaked out of the severed limb.

 

Suddenly Kokani felt a mace slam into his side from behind, knocking him over and sending him sliding a few feet in the sandy earth. He groaned as he spit sand out of his mouth and touched his side. He felt blood. He looked up and saw the second berserker raising its mace above, ready for the killing blow. It crashed into the dirt just milliseconds after he rolled away and got to his feet.

 

Realizing his spear was too far away; he pulled out the dagger in his belt and jumped on top of the kryll’s back. He sank his weapon into the armor gap by its neck, and with a swift movement from his hand he ended the beast’s life.

 

As Kokani jumped off of the giant corpse he looked around to see how his troops were doing. It wasn't good. In front of him he saw his troops getting crushed by the heavy maces of kryll and berserker alike. The majority of the Matoran were untrained, and the kryll possessed superior size and strength. Kokani mustered up his strength and ran back to the battle. He fought and he fought, slaying every kryll he came across. Every Matoran he came to aid he commanded to stick with him, and soon he had reformed his squad. They positioned themselves between two buildings on the main road and took down the kryll as they came charging through, but there was always more. For every one Kokani struck down with his bladed staff, two more replaced it. For every step of ground they gained, they were forced two back. They were simply overwhelmed.

 

But no matter what, they couldn't run. They fought for their home, for their families, for the hope of a better future. Kokani knew this. They were all brothers in combat now. They fought on, even as the sun disappeared below the horizon, and the city was only lit by the fires of burning homes. They fought on as their brothers fell and died beside them, as their muscles tired and their bones ached and the ground was stained red with blood. Bodies of Matoran and kryll littered the city, and the stench of burning flesh overpowered all.

 

But as the hours went on it didn't matter. Nothing mattered now except killing the next enemy. Kokani dodged a spear from a kryll and sunk his blade into its torso, and he thought about this fact. Such was the way of battle. No matter what happens, eventually you become numb to it all.

 

“Captain Kokani!”

 

Kokani turned around. A group of soldiers was running towards him.

 

“Captain!” The leader said again as he reached Kokani. “The eastern and southern gates are destroyed, and the troops assigned to them are gone. There are a few pockets of order here and there, but they are infected with the gas and won’t last long.” He motioned to the dozen warriors behind him and the group of just over thirty that still fought with Kokani. "We are all that is left."

 

Kokani looked around and nodded his head solemnly. “Fall back!” He called out. “Retreat to the caves!”

 

Everywhere soldiers relayed the message.

 

“Retreat!”

 

“Fall back!”

 

“The city is lost!”


Edited by ZOMBI3S, Jan 28 2014 - 02:05 PM.

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#33 Offline ZOMBI3S

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Posted Feb 03 2014 - 06:28 PM

Chapter 11 - The Last Stand

 

 

Takua looked up at the ceiling of the cavern, which had briefly opened up to the surface, allowing him to see the night sky. No doubt they were underneath the middle of the desert now, and the storm that rolled over Po-Koro was far behind them. The stars shone bright against the dark blue sky, and Takua savored their light while he could.

 

That’s funny… he thought. The red star had moved. He didn’t remember how long it had been since the last time he had looked at it, but it was definitely in a different spot now.

 

The fissure in the cavern’s ceiling soon closed up, and he was swallowed by the darkness of the underworld once again. He sat in their wagon, staring blankly into the distance as he was pulled by an ussal crab. Turaga Onewa had given them the wagon so they would have somewhere to put their supplies and to rest their feet. It was just big enough for two Matoran to sit in with all of their supplies, and Aya occupied the other spot. Jaka walked casually along beside them, and Raipu and Nika were nowhere to be found.

 

They moved along with the rest of Po-Koro’s inhabitants, slowly and steadily making their way toward Onu-Koro. There was an air of fear and uncertainty among them, and still people were running around trying to find their loved ones, praying that they hadn’t been caught in the battle. What if the soldiers couldn’t hold the kryll? The people had asked. What if the monsters came running into the caves to kill everyone? What if there was no room for them in Onu-Koro? What then?

 

Takua sighed and fiddled with the Atouri around his neck. He just hoped Kokani was alright.

 

“Look!” Jaka pointed at something up ahead of them, and Takua and Aya perked up.

 

There, in between the darkness and multitudes of people ahead of them, they could make out the shapes of many Matoran, moving quickly in the opposite direction. As they came closer Takua could tell they were Onu-Matoran, all riding ussal crabs. They forced them to move as fast as possible, and people were clamoring to get out of the way as they rushed past. The sounds of the crab’s legs striking the stone floor echoed as they went.

 

Takua perked up as the first of them whooshed past their wagon, heading for Po-Koro. There had to be at least a hundred of them, probably closer to two hundred. All of them wore black armor and carried weapons, and for a moment Takua thought he recognized Illum in their midst. Bows, swords, axes, and daggers all rattled against their armor as they went, and by the time they had passed the cave seem especially quiet.

 

“Reinforcements from Onu-Koro,” Jaka said. “Do you think they’ll make it in time?”

 

Takua watched as they disappeared into the darkness behind them. “I don’t know.”

 

That’s how it was now. Kokani was gone, they were forced to travel in the wrong direction from their goal in Ga-Koro, and an army of kryll could come and attack them at any moment. Nothing was certain.

 

Takua look back up at the cavern ceiling. He might as well get used to it.

 

 

~~~

 

 

Kokani stood as the first drops of rain came down from the sky, wetting the dusty, bloodstained earth. He and the remaining soldiers now stood at the entrance to the caves, awaiting their final confrontation. Of the hundreds of Matoran that had comprised Po-Koro’s army, only the finest and bravest remained. Everyone else was either infected from the kryll’s gas or dead.

 

There were about fifty of them, all battle scared and bleeding. After hours upon hours of fighting, they were tired, but now was when they needed their strength the most. Now, when the battle had paused as the kryll regrouped for their final assault, they were left with nothing but to dwell on all the lives that had been lost. Brothers, sisters, fathers and friends, all had fallen. The kryll had spared no one.

 

Kokani gazed out at his surroundings. The dark entrance to the caves loomed behind him, forming a sharp contrast to the dusty courtyard in front which was slowly turning to mud in the rain. Perhaps a hundred feet wide, a statue of Pohatu was its only decoration. Life-size, the Toa of Stone held his arms outstretched, as if to embrace the people of Po-Koro.

 

He felt a hand on his shoulder, and turned around to see the only remaining Po-Matoran captain looking at him.

 

“It’s been an honor to fight with you Kokani.” The Matoran said quietly. His mask was splattered with blood, but Kokani couldn’t tell if it belonged to kryll or Matoran. “You’re a good Matoran. Thank you for everything.”

 

Kokani clutched his side as he turned around. During the battle his wound had been ignorable, but now as his adrenaline lowered the pain surged through him. “What’s your name, friend?”

 

“Sorin,” the captain replied.

 

The first lines of kryll started to appear between the buildings at the outer edges of the courtyard. They stood there, holding their blades and staring at Po-Koro’s last defense as they waited for the rest of their forces to assemble. Kokani and Sorin gathered the last of their warriors and formed a line, blocking the entrance to the caves in single file. Clutching their wounds and their bloodstained blades, they waited for the kryll to come. They waited for their doom.

 

“Tell me Kokani,” Sorin said as he gazed blankly toward the kryll. “Why don’t you run? These are not your people.”

 

Kokani thought about it for a second, but he knew his answer. “We are all one people. And we must make our stand somewhere. It might as well be here.”

 

More and more kryll trickled into view, but they all waited at the edge of the courtyard. As their numbers grew, so did the noises they made. The light patting of rain on dirt was slowly replaced by their quiet, raspy chatter, which was in turn was replaced by chanting as their numbers grew from dozens to hundreds.

 

And the rain came down as well, slowly and steadily pounding the ground, washing away dust and blood from the stones of the city. Lightning flashed, and Kokani gripped his sword as thunder pounded against his ears. His knuckles turned white as more and more kryll appeared, surrounding them on three sides. The chanting increased in volume, and even the drums started up again, pounding from somewhere behind the lines and lines of kryll.

 

Boom, ba-boom. Boom, ba-boom.

 

Sorin smirked. “So how did you think it would all end? If it wasn’t this, how would you like to die?”

 

“I always thought I would be alone when it happened,” Kokani was quiet for a moment. “Although I’m not sure if that’s what I would want.”

 

Sorin nodded. “I’ve had a good life,” he gripped his sword with both hands, even as the Matoran beside him fidgeted. The kryll grew louder and louder, pounding on their drums and chanting. “Now all I need is a good death.”

 

Lightning and thunder cracked through the sky, illuminating the King of the Kryll as he pushed his way through his ranks and stood in the open courtyard.

 

Sorin chuckled. “And this is a good death.”

 

Krosis raised his hand and suddenly the kryll grew quiet. He stood alone in his golden armor and red war paint, clutching his sword as he gazed at the statue of Pohatu and the Matoran behind it. After a few moments of silence he raised his arms and spoke.

 

“Warriors of Po-Koro!” He addressed the soldiers guarding the caves. His voice boomed over the pouring rain, echoing against the empty buildings. He let his hands drop to his sides and casually strode to his left. “You’ve lost,” he said simply.

 

The kryll chuckled and clicked their mandibles.

 

“I will give you a choice.” Krosis boomed. He waved his hands and there was rustling in the lines of kryll behind him. “You may stay where you are and die a slow, painful death at my hand, or you may surrender yourselves to me and live.”

 

The kryll behind him parted, and Kokani recognized Noruk as he emerged from the masses. He carried a long chain, and Kokani watched in revulsion as the kryll revealed Po-Koronan soldiers attached to it. Their wrists and ankles were bound, and all of them wore pitted, scarred, and infected masks. The Matoran stared out listlessly, their minds completely gone.

 

“Some of your friends have already made their choice.” Krosis smirked.

 

Kokani could tell that Krosis’ act frightened some of the soldiers. They looked at each other, suddenly losing their nerve. The mindless beings in front of them were their brothers, after all. To watch them fall in battle was one thing, but to see them turned into monstrous servants of the enemy…it was appalling.

 

It was Sorin who stepped forward. “Do what you came here to do, kryll!” He yelled, and then turned around to his warriors. “We are warriors of Po-Koro! We are the people of stone! We will not succumb to this monster’s mindless intimidation!”

 

The warriors nodded. Some of them raised their weapons.

 

“We will hold as long as we must against this sea of darkness! We will not die as cowards, but as heroes!”

 

“Yeah!” Some of the warriors cried, more raised their weapons, even some pounded their chest armor and stomped their feet.

 

“We have defended our people, our friends, and our families! And if this is how it ends, then so be it!”

 

The soldiers shouted, raised their weapons and slammed their feet into the muddy earth, pounding on their armor as lightning once again flashed in the sky. Kokani gripped his blade, ready for the end.

 

“So grant our wish, o minion of darkness!” Sorin spread his arms wide as the rain pounded against his armor, welcoming the thousands of kryll to meet his blade. “Grant our wish, and bring us a warrior’s death!”

 

Krosis stood still as his mouth barely moved. “So be it.”

 

With a single wave of his hand the thousands of kryll charged, yelling as their voices mixed with those of Po-Koro’s warriors. The sounds of Po-Koro’s last stand echoed all throughout the desert as the two sides met, and steel clashed against steel for the last time.

 

Kokani couldn’t see the stars above him. They were covered in clouds, and he only had eyes for the countless blades of his enemies. He hadn't gazed up at the stars to try and uncover the secrets of the Prophesies in days, but it wouldn’t have mattered even if he had. A new age was on its way, one born out of blood and fire, one brought about by beings of great power.

 

If Kokani had looked up, perhaps he would have seen it coming. There was a comet in the sky, heading straight for Po-Koro. It burned a bright orange as it fell, careening through the sky as it ripped through the blackened clouds. But as it approached closer and closer to the earth, one would have been able to tell it wasn’t just any comet. It was something else entirely; it was something that would change everything.

 

It was a canister.


Edited by ZOMBI3S, Jul 30 2016 - 04:00 PM.

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#34 Offline ZOMBI3S

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Posted Feb 18 2014 - 12:32 PM

Chapter 12 - Return

 

 

The canister rocketed toward the ground, obliterating the statue of the Toa of Stone as it smashed into the ground with an earthshattering crunch. It buried itself halfway into the mud before its momentum was finally stopped, and all around kryll and Matoran stopped fighting out of pure shock.

 

Kokani looked at the celestial object, still smoking in the ground. It was easily three times as tall as a Matoran, and it hummed with power. The metal of its outer shell was carved with unknown symbols and glyphs, no doubt forged by great and powerful beings that had never been seen on the island of Mata Nui.

 

Po-Koro was silent now. Only the rain could be heard, bouncing off the armor of so many warriors. A moment passed in silence, and suddenly the canister hummed to life. Light shone through six holes in its cap, and Kokani covered his eyes to avoid being blinded. The light increased in intensity until it seemed like the very sun shone before them, until it all culminated in one explosion, blasting off the top of the canister and sending it flying into the masses of kryll.

 

Kokani gazed at the opening with fear, wonder, and awe. From the blackness inside it arose a figure, slowly and unsteadily at first, but as the seconds passed it grew stronger and more powerful, almost as if the figure was assembling itself from nothing. One hand followed by another gripped the lip of the canister, and strong arms pulled the figure up into the wind and rain. Slowly it rose to its full height, revealing a powerful body and strong legs. It stood now in place of the statue at its full height, gazing at the ground as the rain washed over it.

 

It wasn’t until now that Kokani could see the mask in its hand. Slowly the figure raised its arm, gently placing it on its face. Kokani could almost feel the power emanating from the being as it raised its head to gaze out at the masses of kryll before it. Lightning flashed in the sky briefly illuminating the being, and Kokani knew who stood before him. He whispered the name to himself, just barely loud enough to hear.

 

“Pohatu.”

 

Wordless, the Toa raised its arms to the sky and the slumbering stone beneath the earth awoke. Bedrock that had lain dormant for ages erupted into four giant pillars, surrounding the Toa in a show of power so great that every being around him stumbled back in fear. The pillars were easily a hundred feet high, but as soon as they reached their maximum height, the Toa threw his arms down in one swift movement. The pillars cracked at their bases, letting out a deafening boom, and slowly began to fall.

 

Kokani stood motionless as the pillars fell, hurdling towards the ground in front of him as the kryll scrambled to get out of the way. The rock crashed into the earth, and Kokani winced as dozens, maybe even hundreds of kryll were crushed in a single instant.

 

There was a single moment of silence before the Toa of Stone began his dance, but when he did, Kokani could feel the very island of Mata Nui trembling.

 

The Toa stood up to his full height and moved his arms in motions only he could understand. Bedrock shuddered at the Toa’s feet as he unearthed what lie beneath the soil. The rock obeyed his commands, and it rose and fell as boulders erupted from the earth and flew through the air, obliterating his enemies. It was an orchestra or pure power, and Pohatu was its conductor. Wind and rain whipped around him from where he stood atop his broken canister, and pillars and boulders and great sheets of rock submitted to his will. Kokani and Sorin and the rest of Po-Koro’s warriors watched with wide eyes, protected by the Toa’s wrath. It was beautiful and terrifying at the same time.

 

Kokani gazed out at the kryll, and he could see Noruk shouting, trying desperately to keep the warriors from running in fear. The once powerful army had devolved into a mass of fear and panic as they hid from the Toa’s sorcery. He saw Krosis, standing alone now as chaos erupted around him, staring at Pohatu as boulders flew past him. The King of the Kryll turned his head to one side, and even from so far away Kokani could see the rage in his eyes. He yelled something to Noruk, an order probably, and gripped his sword in his right hand, his mandibles clicking as he began walking forward.

 

Krosis raised his sword, howling against the power of the Toa, challenging his might. He would not give in to this being from the sky. He would not turn and run and let go of his own power so easily. He was not afraid.

 

And Noruk joined him. And other kryll came to his side. Even as living rock crushed their brothers and sent weaker kryll running, they would not give in. More kryll joined their king, and his army reformed. It was smaller, but stronger. They raised their weapons to the sky and roared again.

 

It was in this moment that the Toa of Stone stopped. His stood silently and watched his enemies challenge him, almost pleased that they did so. Then, quietly, he looked over his shoulder at the Matoran behind him; the ones he protected.

 

Through the wind and the rain and the booming of thunder, Kokani couldn’t hear the Toa’s words, but from the look on his Kakama and the movement of his lips he could tell what was needed of him.

 

“Go, your fight here is over.”

 

Kokani nodded and turned for the caves. He yelled at the others to follow, and they did as he asked. They ran away as the kryll charged one last time, leaving the bloodshed, leaving the Toa, and leaving Po-Koro behind. For they knew they had done all that they could. Po-Koro was lost, but its people were safe, and that was what really mattered.

 

As they passed through the entrance they could hear the rumbling of moving rock, and Kokani looked back one last time. The entrance cracked and stuttered, slowly changing shape as it started to move, willed by the Toa of Stone's power. The roof of the entrance progressed towards the ground until it finally met, cutting off Kokani’s view of the city.

 

And just like that, everything was quiet.

 

Kokani sank to his knees, finally allowing himself a moment of rest. He and the other warriors were alone now, alone in the quiet safety of the darkness with only the empty tunnels before them. It was only now that Kokani’s thoughts came back to him. Only now when there was nothing else to stimulate his senses did he think about what had just happened, what he and these other brave Matoran had witnessed and lived through.

 

He clutched his side, still slightly bleeding from where one kryll’s mace had hit him. It was heavily bruised and had left a few punctures in his armor, but he would be alright. It would be a painful walk to Onu-Koro, but nothing he couldn’t handle. Sorin appeared in front of him, his mask still splattered in blood. It was hard to see in the darkness, but Kokani took the hand that he offered and the Po-Matoran pulled him up.

 

“On to Onu-Koro then?”

 

Kokani looked at him for a moment, letting thoughts slide cross his mind. To say something so simple after what they had been through…it seemed strange. But the more he thought, the more it made sense. There were no words to describe their feelings. Nothing could truly encompass the events they had witnessed.

 

Kokani nodded in reply. “I could go for some food.”

 

Sorin laughed and slapped a hand on his shoulder before walking to the front of the pack. “Alright, let’s move! It’s a long walk to Onu-Koro, and a long way to hot food and warm beds!”

 

Wordless, the warriors got to their feet and started moving. Kokani walked among them, letting his thoughts keep him company.

 

The Toa have returned. The thought pervaded his head, and for some reason he couldn’t grasp how he felt. He had been ready to die just a bit earlier and now…well, now there was this. The fulfillment of a Prophesy. The return of the heroes of old. It was all so sudden, so unexpected.

 

The Toa have returned. The notion replayed as he walked down the passageway, clutching his wounded side. He thought about everything that had happened, everything he had seen, everything he had done.

 

He heard the warriors around him begin to talk, telling their stories of the battle, and slowly their voices filled the cave. The stories were sad, filled with death and loss, but they were also filled with bravery and courage. They managed to find laughter in some of them, and that definitely helped to lift their spirits. But they all ended in one event; they all had the same conclusion. And the more he heard it the more Kokani realized what it meant to him, and all the people on Mata Nui. He smiled.

 

The Toa have returned.

 

 

~End of Part III~


Edited by ZOMBI3S, Feb 08 2017 - 09:39 AM.

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#35 Offline ZOMBI3S

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Posted Mar 24 2014 - 11:42 PM

part4_zpse52d04b7.jpg

 

Chapter 1 - Looking Through Ice

 

 

Krosis sat upon the throne of Turaga Onewa, looking out into Po-Koro’s main hall. It was a beautiful structure. Carved archways supported the tall ceiling and many pillars came to an abrupt stop in the sandstone floor, lining the edges of the hall. It was a wondrous feat of architecture to be sure, but the building wasn’t what was on the kryll’s mind. He gripped the armrests of the throne with his clawed fingers, clicking his mandibles as he stared at the hall’s entrance, positioned at the opposite end of the structure.

 

He’d done it. It had been a long battle, but they had won in the end. The Matoran had been sent running, fleeing in terror at the power of his army. Po-Koro was his. It would serve as the kryll’s base of operations for the war, and would no doubt give his people the foothold they needed to take on the larger cities of Mata Nui. But as proud as he was at their accomplishment, another thought pervaded his head.

 

Pohatu. The name rang out in the kryll’s mind as he gritted his teeth. The being of legend had crushed more of his warriors in the last few moments of the battle then all of Po-Koro’s army combined. The Toa had broken his ranks, sending many kryll he had believed were brave warriors running in terror. The thought disgusted him.

 

But still, some had proven their worth. Some had stood with him and challenged the mighty being, raising their weapons against what seemed to be impossible odds. They had charged at the Toa, and with speed and agility and sheer strength of will, they fought. They had come at him from all sides, dividing up his attention so that a select few could get in range. After what had seemed like hours, Krosis found himself at the foot of the Toa’s canister. Seizing the opportunity, he had struck with his sword, cutting a deep gash in the Toa’s armor from the middle of his chest to the right shoulder.

 

The memory was as clear as day in his mind. Krosis remembered the feel of hot blood splashing his face, contrasting the cool rain that pelted him from above. In that moment he had looked down on the Toa of Stone. Pohatu had fallen into the muddy earth, gazing up at him with a look of pure astonishment. Lightening had flashed, and Krosis knew that in that one, precious moment, he was truly a king.

 

Pohatu retaliated before Krosis could finish the fight, however. He remembered a blast of stone, and before he could move the Toa had escaped over the walls, leaving him to his newly acquired city. But more than anything Krosis remembered standing atop the being’s canister, yelling in victory as the rain washed the Toa’s blood off of him. All of his army had seen him then. He had proven it: Toa were not gods. They were as mortal as anyone, and they bled the same blood. Everyone had seen his strength then, and he knew that the next time they faced a Toa, his warriors would not run.

 

Krosis looked up as the hall's great doors burst open, letting in light from the outside. Noruk entered, smiling as he approached. “Everyone has gathered. They are ready for you.”

 

The King of the Kryll nodded and stood up from his throne. He walked toward the doors and with a strong push he shoved them open, filling the hall with light and revealing his army outside in the square. Pohatu’s canister was being burned in their midst, billowing with black smoke as its metal warped and melted. He stretched his arms wide, addressing his people.

 

“My friends!” he boomed over their chatter. He took a moment to gaze at the burning canister and allowed himself to smile. “This is only the beginning.”

 

 

~~~

 

 

“Ow! Stop being so good!” Takua dropped his stick and clutched his shin in pain.

 

Jaka smiled. “I think I'm starting to like this.”

 

Kokani shook his head. “Takua, you need to loosen up. You’re clenching too much; you need to be loose so you can react to what Jaka does."

 

Takua picked up his stick and the two Le-Matoran began to spar once more. They exchanged a few blows, until Takua stumbled upon a small rock. Jaka took the opportunity to rap him on the shoulder.

 

“Always be aware of your surroundings,” Kokani added.

 

“Fighting sucks.”

 

It had been four days since the battle of Po-Koro, according to Takua’s count. He wasn’t sure however, for here the time wasn’t ruled by cycles of day and night. It was always dark in the Underworld, and so they slept when they were tired and awoke when it was necessary. Takua had slept four times since entering the caves, and so he figured it was four days.

 

The caravan of refugees moved slowly through the tunnels, escorted by the Onu-Koro Ussalry. The warriors had been sent from their city to aid in the battle, but they had arrived too late. By the time they had reached the city, everything was over. The entrance to the caves was sealed up, and those who had been present at Po-Koro’s final stand talked quietly of a Toa coming to their aid. And so they picked up the weary soldiers, taking them to the rest of their people so they might find aid from the healers.

 

Pohatu. Takua thought to himself as he and Jaka wrapped up their sparring lesson. If what Kokani said was true, it was huge. The Toa had returned. Takua grew excited just thinking about it. The very beings he had always heard about in stories and legends walked the earth. What were they like? Would he ever meet one? The thought of it was almost too much to handle.

 

Taking a moment to pet the ussal crab that pulled their cart, Takua hopped into it, eager to rest his legs. A voice sounded off to his left, and he looked over to see Aya, Nika, and Raipu approaching.

 

“Kokani!” Aya yelled out. She and the two Po-Matoran had left earlier to restock their supplies, and judging by the large burlap sacks the three carried, the venture had been successful. “Sit down!” she commanded.

 

Kokani looked at her from where he walked beside the crab, but before he could reply the Ga-Matoran had plopped her sack on the ground and was pushing him toward the back of the cart. “You’re never going to heal if you keep walking around!” She scolded as she motioned for him to get in. “Mata Nui, you are the most stubborn Matoran I know!”

 

Kokani’s side had been bandaged and cleaned by Po-Koro’s healers, and it was starting to heal quite nicely. “I can walk.”

 

“Shut up and get in the cart.”

 

Takua snickered as the Ko-Matoran rolled his eyes and took a seat next to him. Kokani resisted almost everything Aya did to help him, but in the end the Ga-Matoran's stubbornness always won out. It was funny to see her boss Kokani around.

 

“And now that the formalities are out of the way,” Aya said as she picked up her sack and dumped its contents on the cart’s wood floor. All kinds of supplies spilled out, from bread, meat, and cheese, trinkets and baubles, to lightstones and heatstones. “It may please you all to know that Po-Koro sends her love.”

 

Takua gaped at the huge pile. “What did we do?”

 

“Well,” she picked up a sausage and took a bite out of it. “Have some food Jaka, you look hungry.” Jaka took half of the sausage as she offered it to him, and she continued. “We didn't do anything. But Kokani seems to be quite well known among the Po-Koronan.” She leaned in closer, addressing the Ko-Matoran. “The soldiers you fought with claim you killed over two-hundred kryll.”

 

“They exaggerate,” Kokani replied.

 

“Whatever,” Aya said. “The point is you’re a hero. They’re calling you ‘The White Warrior.’ Must be nice to be famous, eh?” She prodded Kokani playfully.

 

“I only did what was asked of me.”

 

Nika stepped in, and her quiet voice carried more than one would think. “You gave us the time we needed. We wouldn’t be here now if it weren’t for you.”

 

“Pohatu is the reason—“

 

“Pohatu would have been too late if it weren’t for you,” she said simply.

 

“Yeah,” Aya nodded in agreement as she tossed Kokani a loaf of bread. “Deny it all you want, but you did good back there.”

 

The conversation stopped as the Ga-Matoran hopped off the cart to walk alongside the ussal crab, and Kokani looked down at his loaf of bread. He held it in both hands, feeling its texture for a minute or two before finally pulling off a piece to eat. He didn’t say anything in reply.

 

Takua watched as the Ko-Matoran slowly picked at his food, and he couldn’t help but feel that something had changed. Kokani was always quiet, but this was different in a way. Maybe he was wrong, but Aya’s words seemed to have resonated with Kokani.

 

“Hey.”

 

Kokani looked up. It was hard to tell in the dim light of the cavern, but the Ko-Matoran’s eyes seemed to shine a bit more than usual. He glanced at Takua and looked away, choosing to focus on his bread instead.

 

“You okay?” Takua asked.

 

Kokani didn’t answer immediately, but he nodded, continuing to stare at his bread. “Yeah,” he said quietly. The corners of his mouth turned up in the subtle way that they did whenever Kokani smiled. “I’m alright.”

 

“Okay.” A bit confused, Takua reached over to grab an apple from their pile of food. As he did, the light caught Kokani’s mask, and Takua noticed a bit of water underneath his eyes. He quickly averted his gaze, instead watching the shadows as they flickered on the cavern walls.

 

You did good back there. Aya’s words repeated in his head, and Takua slowly realized that they must have meant a lot to the Ko-Matoran.

 

Takua stared at the wall as the cart bumped along, slowly taking him to Onu-Koro. Lost in what he had just witnessed, he bit into his apple, listening to the soft crunch as his teeth broke through the skin. He never would have guessed that the Toa would walk the earth before he learned about Kokani’s past, but life was full of surprises, he supposed. The Atouri rested against his chest, and as he watched the light flicker within its depths he thought about how much he still didn’t know. 

 

“Listen,” he turned back to Kokani. “I didn’t get to tell you this before the battle,” he trailed off, trying to collect his thoughts. “Well, I know we’ve had our differences here and there but…” he paused again and sighed. Scratching the back of his head, he coaxed the words to come out. “…but thanks.”

 

Kokani looked up, his mask slightly less stoic than usual.

 

“Thanks for everything. I wouldn’t be here either if it weren’t for you.”

 

Nodding, Kokani turned back to his bread. Then, after a moment: “You are pretty helpless, Takua.”

 

Takua rolled his eyes and smiled as he looked back at the wall. “Yeah, I know.”


Edited by ZOMBI3S, Mar 12 2017 - 02:46 PM.

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#36 Offline ZOMBI3S

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Posted May 06 2014 - 02:46 PM

Chapter 2 - Catching Up

 

 

“Come on!” Aya said to the ussal crab as she lifted its reins. “Pip pip!”

 

The crab jumped and scuttled forward forcefully, jerking the cart as it went. Takua let out a yelp as he was thrown off balance and out the back of the cart, right on top of Raipu. The two tumbled to the ground.

 

“Ow! What was that for?”

 

“Sorry! He’s a feisty little thing!” Aya motioned toward the crab.

 

Takua shook his head and got up, brushing the dust off his armor. “Sorry Raipu.” He said as he offered his hand to the Po-Matoran.

 

But Raipu didn’t take it. He helped himself to his feet, shooting Takua a glare as he did.

 

Takua looked at him for a moment, but decided it was best to turn the other cheek. “You’re welcome…” he muttered under his breath as he climbed back into the cart. His relationship with the Po-Matoran had been tense ever since the incidents in the Motara desert, and it showed no sign of getting better. He sat down next to Jaka, slightly annoyed.

 

Waiting until Raipu had walked a dozen or so feet away from them, Jaka leaned over to his friend. “This isn’t going to work, you know.”

 

Takua looked at him. “What?”

 

Jaka gave him one of his you-know-what looks. “You and Raipu.”

 

Takua rolled his eyes. “I didn’t even do anything.”

 

“So you two are just going to ignore each other until we get to Ga-Koro?”

 

Takua crossed his arms and huffed. As much as he didn’t want to admit it, Jaka had a point. It wasn’t healthy for their group or their mission for him and Raipu to be always at each other’s throats. “Well what do you think I should do, Jaka?”

 

“Apologize.”

 

“I don’t know if you remember,” Takua said sarcastically, “but he tried to kill me. He’s the one who should apologize.”

 

“You know you can’t blame him for that.”

 

“But he can blame me for what I did?”

 

Jaka sighed and waited a moment before replying. “I don’t know, Takua. Just…” he paused, trying to come up with the right words. “He’s going through a tough time. He just lost Po-Koro. Cut him some slack.”

 

Takua didn’t say anything in return. Maybe Jaka was right. Come to think of it, he usually was when it came to things like this.

 

But his attention was diverted by some disorder coming from farther up in the caravan. Some Onu-Koro guards were ordering people to move, forming a pathway through the masses. A few ussal crabs came into view, larger than any of the others and carrying armored warriors.

 

There was a whirl of dust as they approached, and Takua briefly covered his mouth to cough. He gazed in awe at one of the giant creatures as the dust cleared. It was easily twice as tall as him. It was covered in intricately carved armor, which reflected the light of their lightstones in a way that only hours of polishing would allow. The giant crab slowed to walk at the same pace as their cart, obediently gazing straight ahead as Takua shifted his gaze to its rider.

           

In similar fashion to the ussal crab, the Onu-Matoran’s black armor shone out in the dim light, almost flaunting the quality of the craftsmanship. A beautiful sword was fastened to his belt, which would have impressed Takua, but if he had learned anything in his journey it was that beautiful weapons were often used very little. A black cloak was draped around his shoulders, and as the Matoran took off his helmet Takua recognized his purple Rau.  

           

“My friends!” Illum said as he stretched out his hands to greet them. “I admit I didn’t expect to find you here, but I heard all the rumors about Kokani’s deeds, and I felt I had to seek you out!” His words were like honey, smooth and comforting.

           

“Illum,” Kokani greeted the Onu-Matoran coldly, not moving from where he sat next to Aya. “I didn’t expect to see you here either.”

           

Takua liked Illum, but he made sure not to show it with Kokani around. The Ko-Matoran made no attempt to hide his displeasure with his appearance. Takua remembered what Kokani had told him about Onu-Koro’s ambassador, but he didn’t think much of it. Illum had always been nice to him, and he seemed like a good person.

           

“When I received word that the citizens of Po-Koro would be traveling through the caves, I wanted to make sure that everything went as smoothly as possible.” Illum replied to Kokani. “So I rode out with the reinforcements to meet them here. May I ask what brings you so far from Ga-Koro?”

           

Kokani made eye contact with Illum, and the Onu-Matoran seemed to flinch. “Complications,” Kokani answered.

           

“Ah, well,” Illum pulled his cape around his shoulders, regaining his composure. “Such things are bound to happen, I suppose.” He turned to the rest of the group. “It is good to see you all alive and well. Have any of you ever been to Onu-Koro before?”

           

Takua shook his head. Kokani was the only one who had.

           

“Well!” Illum clasped his hands together in excitement. “You are in for a wonderful treat! Come!” He motioned to the guards, and they formed a protective formation around their cart “Please allow these fine warriors to escort you to the front of the convoy. You are my guests now, and I won’t have anything less than the finest treatment for such important agents of Mata Nui.”

           

Takua smiled to himself. An agent of Mata Nui… He liked the sound of that.

           

Slowly they made their way to the front of the masses, and Illum talked the whole way. Politics and the state of affairs on the island seemed to be his favorite subjects, but Takua paid the most attention when he switched gears to talk about the Kryll, the Toa, and the war.

 

“As I’m sure you know, Krosis has dug into the ruins of Po-Koro, which we assume to be his base of operations for the moment. He has forges and fortresses dotted across the northern shore, and my scouts tell me that he seems to be focusing on securing his position for the moment. The sudden appearance of the Toa seems to have slowed his progress. I have received word that Gali has been spotted off-shore in Ga-Wahi, and Tahu has been reunited with Turaga Vakama. Of the other Toa, not much has been seen. But it is exciting isn’t it? We are coming into a new age!”

 

Kokani grunted, showing his displease at being led by armed guards.

 

Takua let his curiosity get the best of him, and he took the opportunity to speak up. “What about Saku?”

 

Illum fidgeted for a moment. “He was last seen above ground in Onu-Wahi. That was weeks ago, however. I’m sure that Onua will come to us in due time, and we won’t have to worry too much about the Toa of Shadow.”

 

Takua thought about this. What if it happened while they were in the city? He desperately wanted to meet a Toa.

 

“Ah, but here we are!” Illum said cheerfully as they arrived at the front of the caravan. Nobles and rich Matoran occupied much of the space here, and their creaky wooden cart seemed a bit out of place among the privileged. “Onu-Koro is quite close now, and we should arrive in a few hours. But in the meantime, we must get you presentable!”

 

“I hardly think that’s necessary.” Kokani stated.

 

“Nonsense!” Illum waived him off. “The coronation is tonight, and with the safe arrival of the Po-Matoran, there is much to celebrate!”

 

Takua looked up at Illum. “Coronation?”

 

“Yes! But just between us, I must admit I am a bit nervous.” He chuckled.

 

“Wait,” Aya spoke up. “Who’s coronation? What’s happening?”

 

“Well, mine of course! Haven’t you heard…?” Illum trailed off, and the energy drained from his mask as he realized that they had no idea what he was talking about. "I do hate be the bearer of bad news, but…”

 

Kokani eyed the Onu-Matoran. “But what?”

 

Illum sighed, but continued on. “But Turaga Whenua is dead, and I am to take his place.”


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#37 Offline ZOMBI3S

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Posted May 12 2014 - 09:45 PM

Chapter 3 - The Shrouded City

 

 

Kokani stood up, instantly on edge. “What? How?”

 

Illum winced, noticing that Kokani was clutching his sheathed weapon. “No one was as saddened by his passing as I was. I was very close with him.”

 

Kokani didn’t let up. “How did he die?”      

 

“He was very old…”

 

Kokani reached over and seized Illum from atop his crab, lifting him by the collar of his cape. “The other Turaga are fine!” Kokani threw Illum into the dusty cavern floor. “What did you do!?”

 

“Kokani!” Aya yelled out in shock.

 

The guards raised their weapons and pointed them at the Ko-Matoran, daring him to touch the future leader of Onu-Koro again. But he didn’t seem fazed.

 

“There was no foul play, if that’s what you think! I swear!” Illum trembled on the ground. “He passed peacefully in his bed two weeks ago!”

 

Kokani fidgeted. If it weren’t for the blades at his throat, Illum would have been beaten into the ground by now. “Why are you replacing him?”

 

“The elders held a council, and it was determined that I was the best candidate for succession! I knew the most about the affairs of the island and the other Koro! No one else was as qualified!” Kokani twitched his eager muscles, and Illum flinched, covering his mask with his hands. “Please don’t hurt me!”

 

“Kokani, stop! He didn’t hurt the Turaga.” Aya said.

 

Kokani stared at the cowering Matoran for a moment, his knuckles white from balling them into fists. After a few uneasy seconds, he turned around. The guards lowered their weapons and he sat back down in the cart.

 

Illum slowly got to his feet, brushing the dust off his mask and readjusting his armor. “I understand that we may not see eye to eye on certain issues,” he huffed as he smoothed out his cape, “but I promise that I will serve Onu-Koro and Mata-Nui to the best of my ability. I only hope that we can act professional while we are in each other’s company.”

 

Kokani glared at him, his Akaku unmoving in the dim cavern light.

 

“There won’t be any problems,” Aya interjected.

 

Illum smiled uneasily, and turned his attention to the others. “I would appreciate it if you accompanied me at the ceremony. I can promise that it will be worth your while.”

 

“We’d be honored,” Aya smiled, now speaking for the group.

 

“Brilliant!” Illum replied, just now regaining his composure. He motioned to a rather large carriage behind him. “If you so desire, I have prepared baths and other utilities. I understand your journey has brought you a long way.”

 

Takua didn’t think he’d ever seen Aya smile the way she did when she heard the word ‘bath.’

 

“That would be wonderful.”

 

 

~~~

 

 

Takua scrubbed his shoulder armor, trying to get all the dirt and grime that he could out from under it. The warm water of the bath was calming, but it did nothing to sooth his mind. He had never met Turaga Whenua, and so he wasn’t exactly distressed by his passing, but he definitely felt something. Growing up in Le-Koro, he had heard so many stories about Mata Nui’s past, and in them Turaga Whenua was often an important character. It seemed as if a piece of his childhood was gone. It was something he had never really noticed while it was present, but its absence was striking.

 

He exhaled, blowing a few bubbles in the water as he sank lower into the bath. Of course, he couldn’t help but to make the connections in his head. Another Turaga was dead, gone forever from this world. The images of Matau falling off that platform forced their way into his skull, and he felt his emotions start taking over.

 

He scrubbed at his armor, determined to clear away what had accumulated from his months of traveling in the wild. He didn’t want to think about what had happened at Le-Koro. He didn’t want to think about Saku, or Makuta, or even the Atouri. None of that mattered now. There was nothing he could do to change the past.

 

He scrubbed and he scrubbed, trying to block out the thoughts that were running through his mind against his will. More and more dirt he wiped away, but he wasn’t satisfied. Grabbing a brush from the side of the tub, he sank his mask into the water and cleansed every surface, edge, knick, and scratch free from anything that might remotely be considered dirty. The bristles scratched his face, but he didn’t stop. He had to get clean. He had to wipe away everything.

 

Finally, he tossed the brush aside and sank his head in his hands.

 

Talim…I miss you.

 

He didn’t know how long he sat there, soaking in the water like a sponge, but by the time he raised his head Jaka was knocking at the carriage’s door.

 

“Hey, are you okay? You’ve been in there for a while. Illum says we’re almost to the city.”

 

“Yeah, I’ll be right out.” Taking a moment to collect himself, he finally stood up and dried himself off. After all this time, he still hadn’t gotten over it.

 

He sighed, looking at the Atouri as it rested on the edge of the tub, quietly reflecting the light from his lightstone. But maybe that wasn’t how it worked. If what Saku had said was true, there was still a way he could bring her back. She was waiting for him, somewhere out there, and all he had to do was find a way to reach her. Maybe if he could do that, he could find closure.

 

I haven’t forgotten about you, he thought. I’ll find a way, Talim.

 

Takua stepped out of the carriage, his armor shining like a brand new Matoran. The sand of Po-Wahi had seeped deep into the cracks of his armor, and now that it was gone he felt a little bit better. His armor glimmered in a way he hadn’t seen in a very long time, and his mask felt cool and smooth against his face. He made his way over to the rest of his group, and Illum greeted him with a luxurious ussal crab to ride. The Onu-Matoran definitely spared no expense when it came to their comfort.

 

Takua observed his friends, and they all looked great. In just a few short hours, Illum’s care had done wonders for them. Their armor shined, their masks were polished, and Illum had even given them jewelry to wear. Aya, Raipu, Nika, and Jaka wore black silk cloaks, matching the one Illum offered him now. Only Kokani had refused. Others whom Illum wished to honor had also gathered. Takua recognized Turaga Onewa and a Po-Matoran Kokani had introduced to him as Sorin.

 

Up ahead the tunnel opened up in a large, elegantly carved arch through which a dim light came through: the gate to Onu-Koro. Illum wanted everything to be perfect for their entrance, and while Takua didn’t think the theatrics were necessary, he certainly didn’t mind the extravagant treatment.

 

“Friends,” Illum announced as they approached the arch. It was easily fifty feet wide, allowing them to ride their personal crabs next to one another. “Welcome to Onu-Koro!”

 

They passed through the great archway and beheld a gigantic cavern filled with a sprawling city below them. Towers and citadels overlooked the small buildings tightly packed together, and great columns of stone rose up from the cavern floor all the way to the ceiling. Here and there a giant stalagmite rose up between the buildings, only to be integrated with the city as houses and shops were built up upon them.

 

“It’s huge!” Takua couldn't help but blurt out.

 

“Truly wondrous, isn’t it?” Illum said. He pointed to a gigantic palace built around one of the stone pillars at the other end of the cavern. Its top almost reached the cavern roof, which was easily hundreds of feet up. The road they were on now led directly to it. “Come! The Turaga’s Palace awaits us!”

 

One of the guards blew a large shell, and a long note echoed throughout the cavern. Illum led them from the archway down into the city, and Takua soon found Matoran flocking to the side of the street, as if responding to the sound of the shell. They watched eagerly, and Illum waved to them. They cheered in reply. More and more Matoran stopped what they were doing to watch from the curbside, and within minutes, large crowds had gathered on both sides of the road. Illum continued to smile and wave, and they clapped and cheered every time he did.

 

Takua felt a nudge on his elbow, and looked over to find Illum meeting his gaze. “Don’t be shy,” he smiled. “They love it when you wave!”

 

Takua looked at him for a moment before gazing at the throngs of people that had now gathered. The noise grew louder and louder, and their cheering echoed throughout the entire cavern. Slowly, and a bit awkwardly, he raised a hand to wave, and the crowd went wild. People blew trumpets and yelled, banging their feet against the cobblestone street.

 

Takua didn’t know why they applauded for him, but it didn’t matter in that moment. It reminded him of the day Matau had given him the Atouri in the Twisted Nail, and the whole restaurant had cheered. It took him back to an earlier time, when everything was simpler. And he loved it.

 

The closer they got to the palace the larger and grander the buildings were, and the more the crowds grew. Lightstones were imbedded in almost every surface, and the city itself glowed. The sounds, the scenery, the people and the atmosphere: everything was beautiful.

 

Takua felt a tap on his shoulder, and he turned around and smiled at Jaka. “This is great!”

 

“Open your eyes, Takua.”

 

“What?”

 

“It’s not what it seems.”

 

Takua looked around him, a bit confused. At first he didn’t understand, but he more he looked the more he saw. Beyond the cheering crowds were more Matoran, shrouded in the darker streets. They didn’t cheer. They stood silently, their masks sullen and their bodies thin. The buildings beyond the main road were smaller and shadier, and the streets were empty and abandoned. There was famine and depression behind the veil of light: Onu-Koro was not what it seemed to be.

 

They were near the palace now, and Illum smoothly slid off the top of his ussal crab. Takua and the others followed his lead, and walked up a few steps to stand atop the raised stone platform that the palace doors were seated on. Takua stood closer to Jaka and his friends, now feeling quite uneasy. Illum turned around to face the crowd, and he started to address them with a speech.

 

Takua didn’t pay attention to the words. He looked back toward the entrance they had come through, watching as the people of Po-Koro were directed by guards and shown to parts of the city where they would find refuge. More often than not, they were the darker sections.

 

Illum went on, talking with Turaga Onewa about how unfortunate circumstances had brought their people together, or something similar to that at least. The Turaga nor Illum seemed to notice the darkness hiding within the city, and Takua cautiously looked over at his friends. Raipu and Nika seemed unaware, but it was obvious that Aya, Kokani, and Sorin knew.

 

Illum introduced them to the people, calling them ‘honored guests’ and ‘agents of Mata Nui,’ but it didn’t have the same appeal as before. Takua leaned over towards Jaka and whispered in his ear.

 

“We won’t be staying here long, will we?”

 

Jaka shook his head. “I hope not.”

 

Illum finished his announcements and introductions, and the people cheered for them once again. The future Turaga of Onu-Koro smiled as the huge doors behind him opened, inviting them into the palace.

 

“Welcome again my friends!” Illum spread his arms wide, flicking his black cloak as he did so. “I hope you will find your stay comfortable.”


Edited by ZOMBI3S, Mar 09 2015 - 04:04 PM.

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#38 Offline ZOMBI3S

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Posted Jun 02 2014 - 09:06 PM

Chapter 4 - A New Turaga

 

Takua stared as the Onu-Matoran noble as she talked about herself. He had already had a few glasses of the brew that Illum was serving to his guests, and so he was more relaxed than usual. But that didn’t change the fact that the woman in front of him kept on talking. Every once and a while he picked up something about lightstones, jewels, and the Great Mine, but he was secretly looking around the room for Jaka, or anyone else he knew for that matter.

 

“But enough about me,” she smiled. “I hear you are traveling to Ga-Koro? That must be exciting!”

 

“Huh?” Takua snapped back to the conversation, trying to be polite. “Yeah, it’s okay I suppose.”

 

“I heard about what happened to Le-Koro.” She reached across the small table and grabbed his hand. “That must have been terrible for you.”

 

Takua looked down at her as she rubbed her fingers against his, quite passionately. “Um…yeah,” he said, pulling his hand away. “It’s kind of rough sometimes.”

 

She didn’t seem to get the message. “I just think that it’s so brave that you’re traveling across the island with only a few companions. It’s quite dangerous, especially with the war that’s going on nowadays.” She crossed her legs and leaned closer toward him. “Have you ever killed anyone?” Her eyes lit up.

 

“No, unless you count rahi.” Takua replied quietly.

 

“Oh…” She seemed a bit disappointed, but Takua didn’t really care either way. She went on to talk about rumors she’d heard about Kokani, and Takua once again tuned her out, searching for an escape.

 

He was in the palace’s finest gathering hall, high above the city. Everyone who was anyone in Onu-Koro had gathered here in preparation for Illum’s coronation. To be quite honest though, Takua found it boring. Only the richest and most famous Matoran were present, and they only liked to talk about politics, the mining economy, and the current state of the island as it pertained to business and trade.

 

The entire hall was carved out of black marble, with the far end filled with tall windows that looked out over the entire city. There were roughly a hundred people packed into the lavish room, and in the short time period from their entrance until now, Takua had somehow managed to lose sight of everyone he knew.

 

“I just think that while he’s very brave and all, you are much more approachable. And in turn, more admirable,” the noble said, winking to Takua as she did.

 

He managed a fake smile, and was about to respond when he felt a pat on his back, and Sorin came into view. The two had spoken only on occasion since Kokani had introduced them back in the tunnels, but the Po-Matoran greeted him as if he were a dear friend.

 

“Takua! Good to see you.” He grabbed his arm firmly and pulled him away from the Onu-Matoran. “Walk with me.”

 

“Uh…sure thing.” Takua replied as Sorin led him toward the front of the room. He waved goodbye to the noble in order to be polite, but he was quite relieved to be taken away.

 

Once they were out of earshot from the noble, Sorin leaned over to him. “Do you know that Matoran?”

 

Takua shook his head. “She just came up and started talking to me.”

 

“Avoid her. She’s a witch.”

 

Takua looked up at Sorin quizzically.

 

“I worked in the Great Mine once for a few years. She was in charge of the operation, and she was horrible to all of her workers.” Sorin led him around a group of lavishly decorated Matoran, and lowered his voice as he did. “All the Matoran here have built their fortunes at the expense of other’s labor. Don’t trust what they have to say.”

 

Takua nodded. “Do you trust Illum?”

 

Sorin shrugged. “I trust a very small amount of people. But he does seem reasonable, and he looks after his own.”

 

Takua watched from afar as Illum stood in front of the windows overlooking the city. The Matoran raised his arms to speak, and began to address the hall.

 

“Thank you all for joining me today, for I would be nothing without the support of my people,” Illum said, instantly silencing the chatter of the crowd. Everyone turned toward him, lending their undivided attention. “While ill-fated circumstances have brought me into this situation, I hope that I will be able to serve the people of Mata Nui to the best of my ability, and that we may prosper and thrive under my rule.” A few Matoran clapped, and Illum continued on. “Let the coronation begin!”

 

Sorin continued to lead Takua to the far corner of the room, where he was quickly reunited with his friends. They all seemed to be having a good time, except for Kokani, who stood against the wall, drumming his fingers on the handle of his sheathed blade. They watched as a handful of particularly old Matoran took to the stage in front of the windows. The Matoran in the center, clearly the oldest, carried a long object wrapped in cloth.

 

The elderly Matoran raised his hands and spoke in a raspy tone. “The Council of Elders has assisted the Turaga with the governing of Onu-Koro for years.” The Matoran unwrapped the object, revealing the Drill of Onua, Turaga Whenua’s badge of office. “But in the unfortunate events which we have experienced, the need for a new Turaga has arisen. Whenua was truly a wise and just ruler. May he rest in peace.”

 

“May he rest in peace,” a few Matoran murmured.

 

“And so it has been decided,” the Matoran extended his hands to Illum, offering the drill to him. “That Illum, ambassador of Onu-Koro, be named as our honorary Turaga. May the strength and power of the Toa guide him, and may Mata Nui bless his reign.”

 

Takua watched as Illum took the drill, displaying it proudly above his head. The entire room cheered, welcoming the indoctrination of the Matoran’s rule. Illum smiled and waved, thanking the elders, the people, Mata Nui, and anyone else that he could think of that needed thanking. And just like that, the first new Turaga in ages had come to power.

 

“A Matoran takes the place of a Turaga. I suppose we really are in a new age.” Jaka murmured.

 

The party went on. Illum brought out entertainers of all sorts, from musicians to storytellers to magicians. There was something for everyone to enjoy. Servants carried trays of food and drink, and the more that was served the louder the festivities grew. Takua walked around with Jaka, sampling the finest of the dishes as they slowly let themselves relax. Takua didn’t know how he felt about Illum becoming a Turaga, but maybe it wasn’t for him to decide. He was no politician, and he knew very little about what it took to make a good leader. Perhaps the best way he could spend the night was to relax, and forget about the shadows that existed beyond the palace’s walls.

 

Takua and Jaka were just refilling their cups when they ran into the new Turaga.

 

“Takua!” Illum smiled, “I’ve been meaning to talk with you!”

 

“You have?” he replied, his mouth full of drink.

 

“Yes, of course!” Illum snapped his fingers, and within seconds two guards came up to them, carrying a rather large chest. They opened it and Illum reached in, producing a beautiful sword. He held it out to Takua. “For you.”

 

Takua gazed at it, a bit stunned. The dark red leather wrapped around its hilt matched that of his dagger perfectly, and it seemed to be the perfect length for a Matoran his size. The protosteel of the blade reflected his mask, glinting as sleek lines formed into sharp edges. “Illum, I…I can’t accept this.”

 

“Nonsense!” Illum replied. “I had it made specifically for you when I found you would be coming to the city. These are dangerous times, Takua. Every traveler needs a reliable weapon.” He reached into the chest again, this time pulling out a shield. He turned to Jaka, offering it to him. “And, for you.”

 

It was Jaka’s turn to stutter. “…m-me?” The shield was polished with fine silver and decorated with a thin red outline of a Hau on its face. It glimmered with the same high-quality craftsmanship as Takua’s sword. Jaka took hold of it was amazed by how light it was, considering its sturdy design.

 

“You have a knack for keeping Takua out of trouble, do you not?” Illum waited for Jaka’s answer, but the Le-Matoran was too stunned to reply. He went on. “I hope this may help to keep you both safe.”

 

Jaka stared at his shield, admiring it as Illum pulled two more items from the chest. The first, a bow, matched the royal blue and black of Aya’s armor perfectly. Flexible but sturdy, it was smooth to the touch and extremely beautiful. The second, a chest plate, matched Raipu’s armor. Silver with edges of brown, it looked as if it could stop any arrow or blade.

 

“I do hope your friends will like them.”

 

Takua stood there wide-eyed as Jaka turned around to fetch the others. “You didn’t have to do this, Illum.”

 

“Ah, its Turaga Illum now!” he chuckled. “Besides, it is the duty of a Turaga to serve his people. And those that serve Mata Nui will always be my people,” Illum replied graciously.

 

Takua didn’t know what to say. The sword fit perfectly into his hand. It felt like an extension to his arm, and while he dared not swing it with so many Matoran around, he desperately wanted to try it out. “…thank you.”

 

Jaka returned with Raipu, Aya, and Kokani, and the two took their respective gifts, gaping as they laid eyes upon them. They thanked Illum, who once again shrugged them off politely. He bent over the chest one last time, and pulled out four pieces of protosteel.

 

Quietly, he assembled them, and within seconds a long, bladed staff took form, twinkling in the light of the hall. Its jet black handle complimented the off-white accents that wound their way around the blade, matching Kokani’s armor perfectly. The blade itself rang as Illum moved it through the air, surely sharp enough to cut almost anything with ease. Cautiously, the new Turaga extended his arms to Kokani, offering him the beautiful weapon.

 

“I wish you the best on your journey,” he said simply.

 

Kokani stared at the weapon without emotion for a few moments, but Takua could tell that conflicting thoughts ran through his head. A few tense seconds ticked by, but eventually the Ko-Matoran snatched the weapon from Illum’s hands.

 

“Thanks.”

 

Illum allowed himself a subtle smile. He waved his guards away and bowed to them, excusing himself from their presence. Takua watched him as he went, suddenly quite at peace with the fact that this Matoran was replacing Turaga Whenua. Politician or not, he was a good Matoran, and there was hope for Onu-Koro still.

 

“Wait!” Takua called out, and Illum turned around as Takua caught up with him. “Turaga,” he addressed Illum respectfully, “Do you think we could talk in private? I have some questions for you.”

 

Illum seemed flattered by his request. “Of course!” He pointed to a small door in the corner of the hall. “I know the perfect spot. Right this way.”


Edited by ZOMBI3S, Apr 11 2017 - 11:50 AM.

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#39 Offline ZOMBI3S

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Posted Jun 12 2014 - 11:52 AM

Chapter 5 - Answers and Questions

 

Takua followed Illum into the room, and was quite impressed with what he saw. Bookshelves packed with ancient tomes lined the walls, and here and there was a mahogany desk, perfect for studying the antique books. In the far corner was an apothecary’s table, surrounded with jars of various herbs and roots. A cluster of lightstones in the middle of the ceiling dimly lit the study, just bright enough to facilitate enlightened thought. It smelled like old paper, and Takua could almost feel all the valuable discoveries that had been made in this room.

 

“Welcome to Turaga Whenua’s study,” Illum said plainly. “Well, I suppose it’s my study now, isn’t it?”

 

Takua couldn’t help but to brush his fingers against the spines of a few of the books. The old leather felt comforting against his fingers, and it reminded him of Turaga Matau’s home. “It’s very beautiful,” he replied.

 

“So,” Illum turned around to face Takua. “What is it that you wanted to ask me?”

 

“Well,” Takua paused for a moment, trying to figure out the best way to say it. “I lost a lot in Le-Koro, including a good friend of mine.”

 

Illum looked at the ground. “That must have been horrible for you.”

 

“But, from what I’ve heard, she’s not really gone.”

 

Illum’s eyes twinkled. “She’s lost her spirit, hasn’t she?”

 

Takua looked at him, a bit taken aback. “Yeah…how did you know that?”

 

“It’s happened before, but only to those who are strong,” Illum said. “Leaders, brave warriors, great thinkers; any who are deemed worthy are often spared the release of death by the Toa of Shadow.”

 

Takua looked down at his hands, inadvertently playing with the leather on his new sword. “These Matoran…they lose all color in their masks?” Illum nodded, and he continued on. “And they speak one word, over and over…”

 

“Takua.”

 

Takua looked at Illum, suddenly extremely anxious to learn what the Matoran knew. “Why do they say my name?”

 

Illum shrugged and turned to look at the table in the corner. “No one knows, I’m afraid. Perhaps it is because you hold the Atouri. Perhaps it is not your name at all, but that of the Seventh Toa’s, of whom may have the power to restore their spirits.” He paused. “Or perhaps it is because you have a larger part to play in all of this than either of us know.”

 

Takua stared at Illum, trying to figure out what he could take away from that. Then, “Please tell me the truth. Can you ever bring someone back from that state?”

 

Illum took a deep breath. “Yes.”

 

“How?”

 

“You would have to enter the void. Become one with the Makuta. Reach out into the blackness, take her hand, and pull her spirit back from the brink of chaos.”

 

Takua gazed at the books as he thought for a second. So he finally had an answer, but it wasn’t one that he wanted to hear. He gripped the handle of his blade, lost in thought and frustration. Finally, he looked back to Illum. “How am I supposed to do that?” he sighed, letting his arms fall loosely to his sides. “I’m just a Matoran.”

 

“That’s a question for beings greater than I.”

 

“Beings like Saku?”

 

“Possibly,” Illum shrugged. “Or Makuta himself. Or maybe there are other beings of darkness that are unknown to us. But knowing Saku, and knowing the journey you still have to make, he seems like the most approachable option.”

 

Takua rolled his eyes. “Right.”

 

Illum chuckled. “Takua, I have studied much in my lifetime. I don’t believe in blindly following any particular view, no matter whose teachings they may be.” He paused, searching along the shelves of books until he pulled out the one he wanted. “There is more to the Toa of Shadow than you think.”

 

 “…what do you mean?”

 

There was a soft thump as Illum placed the leather-bound book on one of the desks. “Like I said, I try to see all points of view before I make any of my decisions, but in order to do this one must be very well-informed.” He thumbed through the pages until he found the one he was looking for. “The Prophesy states that when the time is right, six beings will unite their powers and summon a seventh, of whom will have the power to destroy the Atouri.”

 

Takua nodded in agreement.

 

“Naturally, we assume these six beings are the Toa, and the seventh is the Toa of Light.” He nodded to the Atouri, dangling around Takua’s neck. “It only makes sense that such a powerful artifact of darkness can only be destroyed by an equally powerful being of light, but…” he turned the book around so that Takua could read it. “What if we’re wrong?”

 

Furrowing his brow in worriment and confusion, Takua stepped closer so that he could read the ancient book. It was a story, undoubtedly written ages ago, and long forgotten by the rest of the world. He looked back at Illum. “What is this?”

 

“A legend almost as old as The Tale of Atouri, although not nearly as well-known.” He stopped to slide the book across the desk to Takua. “Many years ago, before I became Onu-Koro’s ambassador, I had a different profession. Do you know what that was?”

 

Takua shook his head.

 

“I was a storyteller.”

 

 

~~~

 

 

Aya slammed her empty cup on the table. She gasped and quickly wiped the foam from the corners of her mouth. A second later Sorin did the same, knocking over his empty tankard over in the process. The Ga-Matoran leaned back in her chair, smiling to herself.

 

“Can’t keep up, can you?” she laughed as Sorin grimaced. Even Kokani managed to crack a smile.

 

“Another,” Sorin demanded.

 

“As you wish, old man,” Aya said cheekily as she poured them both another cup of brew.

 

“Alright,” Jaka yawned as he got up from the table. The party was still going strong, but he could only watch so much of Aya’s drinking game. “I think I’m going to bed.” Illum had arranged rooms for them at Onu-Koro’s finest inn, and while he wanted to wait for Takua to return, he couldn’t keep his eyes open any longer.

 

He bade his friends good night and walked toward the exit of the gathering hall, but just as he was about to leave he ran into Raipu and Nika. The two were talking quietly by themselves, but Nika lit up when she saw him.

 

“Jaka!” she greeted him cheerfully. “How does he look?” She pointed to Raipu, who wore his new chest plate. It fit him quite well, and if Jaka didn’t know him better he would have mistaken Raipu for a seasoned warrior. The armor in combination with the Hau he had received in Po-Koro made him look rather intimidating.

 

“Impressive,” he said. The shield Illum had given him rested on his back, and he had an urge to brush his fingers against it.

 

“Are you leaving?” Nika asked. Jaka nodded, and so she went on. “Would you want to come with us?”

 

“To the Inn?"

 

Nika shook her head and looked at the ground for a moment before answering. “To see Turaga Whenua.”

 

Nika’s words hit Jaka like a wall. The past few hours had made him forget the reason they were here in the first place, and now that he thought about it, he owed it to the Turaga to pay his respects. Slowly, he nodded. “Yeah, I will.”

 

The three friends left the party, and after finding a guard to lead the way, they descended to the lower levels of the palace. They walked in silence for a bit, making their way through corridors and halls, but eventually Jaka’s thoughts caught up with him. Raipu and Nika were always somewhat quiet, but ever since Po-Koro, they had kept to themselves. Letting the guard get a few steps ahead of them, he turned to the two Po-Matoran.

 

“Are you guys okay?” he asked.

 

The two turned to look at him, raising their eyebrows.

 

“I know it’s been a while now, but…” he trailed off for a second, but quickly caught himself. “…but losing Po-Koro…I know what that’s like. It’s not easy.”

 

Raipu‘s mask went firm. “Don’t talk about Po-Koro.”

 

Jaka sighed. “Well, if you need anything—“

 

“We’re fine.”

 

Nika put her hand on Raipu’s shoulder, trying to calm him down. “We’re getting through it,” she said politely, trying to speak over Raipu’s shortness. “Thanks, though.”

 

Jaka nodded, still somewhat taken aback by Raipu’s attitude. But in a minute, the guard had stopped at a pair of two iron doors and pulled them open. The three Matoran entered the tomb, and the guard politely shut the doors behind them.

 

The room was carved entirely out of granite, and was just big enough for the three of them to stand in without feeling crowded. Candles and lightstones lined many shelves on the walls, interspersed with various items that must have been dear to Turaga Whenua. In the center of the room lay a stone coffin, quite plain in design and with no visible seams. A noble Ruru hung on the wall behind it. It was old and scarred, but still beautiful, in a dark sort of way. The three Matoran grew quiet as they stared: it was Turaga Whenua’s mask.

 

No one said anything. The moment of silence pervaded the tomb, and as it stretched on, the gloom of the place seemed almost mystical. The final resting place of the Turaga was fitting: dark, quiet, and yet strangely welcoming. It was a surreal moment, one that only death manages to create.

 

Quietly, Nika made her way up to the wall, and reached out to touch the mask. She ran her fingers across it, feeling its texture, but suddenly she stopped. Her demeanor changed as she leaned in closer, staring at the mask. Then, delicately, she lifted it off its hook, taking it down from the wall.

 

“Nika, put it back,” Raipu looked at her, confused by her behavior. “Don’t dishonor him.”

 

“No, I don’t mean to…” she squinted at the mask, as if trying to read small print. “You have to look at this…” her voice was quiet, almost as if she was in shock.

 

Raipu and Jaka leaned over her shoulder to stare at the Ruru.

 

“Look, right here,” she said, pointed to a few areas around the mask’s edge. “You can tell it’s been polished and almost buffed out, but you can still see it.”

 

Jaka squinted, and sure enough, he found a few pits. They were shaped differently from the scars of old age, but he didn’t know what to make of it.

 

“It looks like your mask, Raipu,” Nika continued on. “Your old one. The one that you wore before Po-Koro, when you came down with the Madness.”

 

Jaka and Raipu looked at her. “What are you saying?” The Po-Matoran asked.

 

“I’m saying,” Nika swallowed, trying to get a lump out of her throat, “that before he died, Turaga Whenua was infected.”


Edited by ZOMBI3S, Mar 09 2015 - 04:04 PM.

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#40 Offline ZOMBI3S

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Posted Jul 29 2014 - 08:37 AM

Chapter 6 - The Tale of Saku
 
 
“Many years ago, I traveled from Koro to Koro, telling legends and stories to anyone who was willing to listen,” Illum spoke softly, letting his smooth voice flow like water. “I spent much of my free time searching for new and exciting stories, but sometimes, the best tales are not the newest ones, but the old ones, long forgotten.”
 
Takua stared at the timeworn pages. The story was old, that much he could tell. Its script was barely legible, but Illum knew the words. The Onu-Matoran smiled and motioned for Takua to read along as he started to recite the tale from memory.
 
 
“Long ago, in the time when time had just begun, Makuta hid in an abandoned cave by the water’s edge. He had recently suffered defeat at the hands of the Seventh Toa, and so he was very weak. Slowly, as he shunned the rest of the world, he began to nurse himself back to health. But Mata Nui soon found him, and he cowered in fear at his brother’s presence, for he knew Mata Nui would be angry with him for his schemes.
 
But Mata Nui had not come to fight. ‘Do not be afraid, my brother,’ he said. ‘I only wish to make amends for what has been done.’
 
Makuta sneered at him, as he was still bitter about his defeat. ‘You wish for peace? After what your Toa have done to me?’
 
Mata Nui was saddened by his brother’s response, but still he tried to reason with him. ‘We cannot fight for eternity. The Matoran should have the right to their own destiny,’ he replied.
 
Makuta was cunning, and so he thought of a plan. ‘We can have peace when we are equal,’ he said. ‘You have brave Toa that fight for you, but I am weak, and am alone in my darkness.’
 
Mata Nui was reluctant at first, as he knew his brother was plotting against him. But he also knew that Makuta always kept his word, and he was very tired of fighting. And so he called to Toa back to him, so that the Matoran would know peace.
 
‘But one should remain, so that the Matoran will have a guide,’ Mata Nui said. 
 
He chose the Toa of Light for this task, for he represented Mata Nui well. But Makuta did not agree with this, and he argued with his brother over the decision. If Mata Nui was to have a champion, then so should he.
 
Mata Nui accepted this after some thought, for he knew that neither light nor dark could exist without the presence of the other. He fashioned an Eighth Toa from the clouds, and named him Saku, the Toa of Shadow. The two brothers agreed that while they would have peace, the Toa of Light and the Toa of Shadow would represent their presence among the Matoran.
 
Mata Nui placed Saku on the earth, and called Takanuva to him. ‘Be warned,’ Mata Nui told them. ‘While you may be enemies, you share the same fate. There is light and dark in both of you, and you cannot exist without the other. You must work together to guide the Matoran. That is your destiny.’
 
And so Mata Nui departed, leaving the Toa to the earth. 
 
But while Takanuva was welcomed and celebrated by the Matoran, Saku was shunned. The Matoran feared his darkness, and soon he found himself wandering the lands alone. No being wished to accompany him, for surely a Toa of Shadow could not be trusted.
 
Frustrated and lonely, Saku called up to Mata Nui. ‘Why am I to suffer like this? What have I done to deserve this fate?’
 
But Mata Nui didn’t answer, for he was far away and could not hear.
 
Alone, Saku wandered the lands until he found his way to an abandoned cave by the water’s edge. Here, he met Makuta, for the being had been watching him for a long time.
 
‘Why have Mata Nui and the Matoran abandoned me?’ Saku asked Makuta, for he was the only one left who would listen.
 
And Makuta welcomed him with open arms. ‘Do not worry about them, my child. You are with me now. That is your destiny.’
 
 
Takua met Illum’s gaze as he finished the tale. There was silence for a few moments, until Takua spoke up. “What are you trying to say?”
 
“There are two sides to every story,” Illum said plainly. “Don’t dismiss the other side as false until you have seen it for what it truly is.”
 
“Saku’s the reason I lost her in the first place,” Takua spoke as calmly as he could, but his frustration was starting to show. “I don’t care what made him the way he is, I’m not going to try and befriend him.”
 
“Sometimes we have to do things we don’t entirely agree with, but we do them anyway because we must,” Illum said solemnly. “If you can find another way, by all means, take it. But I won’t be able to help you.”
 
Takua bit his lip, trying to weigh his thoughts and emotions. He didn’t know what to do. He hated the thought of even speaking to Saku, but he doubted he would be able to find another way.
 
“If I am to speak freely,” Illum said, drawing back Takua’s attention. “I must admit that I have issues of my own I would like to discuss with you.”
 
Takua looked at him, puzzled. “Like what?”
 
Illum walked over to the apothecary’s table, and opened one of its drawers. He pulled out a cylindrical object wrapped in grey cloth, and presented it to Takua. “Do you know what this is?” he said as he gingerly unwrapped it.
 
Takua stared as Illum revealed a glass cylinder, sealed with iron on both ends. Illum brought it into the light and Takua gasped. Inside was a swirling grey-green gas, and Takua’s mind brought him back to The Great Takea inn, where he had first seen the fumes. It was the same gas that the kryll used, the same gas that caused the Madness. Takua took a few steps back, but didn’t answer the question.
 
“It’s the essence of Makuta,” Illum said quietly. “It infects us; controls us; submits us to the will of his darkness.”
 
“How did you get that?”
 
“One of my spies managed to pluck it from a camp of kryll. I’ve been studying it, and them. They carry it on ships from across the sea, from the lands of the Eastern Continent. That’s where they come from. That’s where their true power lies.”
 
“The Eastern Continent?”
 
Illum nodded. “It’s a grand and dangerous place, unknown to most Matoran. The Kryll have a temple there, a shining white tower, built by great and powerful beings. That’s where this gas comes from,” Illum paused, delicately holding the cylinder in his hands, caressing its glass face. “That’s where Makuta resides.”
 
Takua remembered the vision he had seen in the Motara desert. The heartbeat, Talim’s voice, and the shining white tower…was it the same one that Illum spoke of now? He watched as Illum talked, unsure how to act. His demeanor worried him. He seemed transfixed by the gas. The Onu-Matoran gazed at it, almost longingly.
 
“The legends say that Makuta once infected our masks with creatures called Kraata. Perhaps, without the Atouri, he is too weak to create them, but for whatever reason his minions now use this gas.” He paused for a moment to stare at it, and Takua could see the green light reflected in his eyes. “But it isn’t perfect,” Illum continued. “Too little will have no effect, too much can outright kill us.” Illum stared at the swirling gas, safely contained in its canister. “But I have been told that this amount is perfect. The amount in this canister will infect a Matoran in minutes.” 
 
“How do you know all this?” Takua asked, a bit worried.
 
Illum snapped out of his trance and walked back to the table. “I have many little birds that sing in my ear. Information is the key to victory, Takua. Remember that.”
 
“I’ll try my best.”
 
Illum sighed and turned the canister over in his hands, inspecting its surface. “You see, I don’t believe that we should be taking the Atouri to Ga-Koro.”
 
Takua was shocked. “What are you talking about? Why?”
 
“Why does Makuta help them?” Illum asked Takua. “The kryll, that is. Think about it: why does their god play an active role in their destiny, when ours is seemingly absent? Where is Mata Nui to help us?”
 
Takua squinted his eyes, trying to figure out where Illum was going with this. He drummed his fingers nervously. “Mata Nui sent us the Toa…”
 
“Did he though?” Illum probed. “What proof do we have? The Toa are real, yes, but who sent them? The kryll have the very essence of Makuta! We just have legends, and stories.”
 
Takua couldn’t believe what he was hearing. Illum’s words slowly slipped farther and farther away from what he believed, and it was all he could do to try and talk him back. “We have the Toa. We have the Wall of History, we have…” he trailed off, realizing that none of these things would offer the proof Illum was looking for. “I don’t know. We have faith.”
 
Illum reached over to the desk and pointed at the book he had read earlier. “It says it right here, ‘Mata Nui departed, leaving the Toa to the earth.’ How are we to fight against a god of darkness, when we have no god of our own? What if the prophesies are wrong? What if, when the Toa unite their powers at Ga-Koro, it summons something we didn’t expect? Something that may have the power to destroy the Atouri, but not the will to do so? We could be walking toward our doom!”
 
Takua didn’t know what he could say. “And what would you have us do?”
 
“We can keep it here,” Illum clutched the canister as he tried to persuade Takua. “These walls are thick, the doors are strong. No one can penetrate this city’s defenses. I can make sure it would be safe.”
 
The thought set him off more than he expected. “Safe?” he spat out, allowing his frustration to get the better of him. “How do you expect to be able to look after the Atouri when you can’t even look after your own people?” He motioned to the room’s only window, overlooking the city. “I saw it when we first came here. The spectacle you showed us was great, I’ll admit it, but I saw past that. There are homeless and starving Matoran in your streets!” he stared for a moment, and as Illum stared back, the realization sunk in. “And you know it, don’t you?”
 
“If leaders didn’t have to make sacrifices, anyone could do it.”
 
“What sacrifices have you made!? You live in a palace! You threw a party for your own coronation!”
 
“Moral sacrifices!” Illum yelled, losing his composure. “I am a good Matoran, but if I have to give that up to ensure my people’s safety, by Mata Nui I will do so!”
 
Takua looked on as Illum slowly regained his poise, and suddenly it all clicked. The reason he had shown them such a spectacle on their arrival, his insistence on seeing both sides of a story, even the way Illum looked at the canister: it all made sense now. “It was you,” he backed towards the door. “The one you warned me about in Ko-Koro. You said you thought it was Kokani, but it was you all along.”
 
Illum advanced as Takua retreated. “Takua, please don’t make this to be what it’s not.”
 
“You’ve been feeding them information. The Turaga’s ideas, their plans, their…their…” he lost his train of thought as he finally understood it all. “For what? Did they promise they’d leave Onu-Koro alone? Did they promise to make you Turaga!?” his eyes widened as the feeling of broken trust and betrayal filled him up. “You’re the reason Saku knew about the plan in Le-Koro,” he shook his head, overcome with emotion. “You’re the reason Matau is dead!”
 
“I didn’t mean for any of that to happen!”
 
“Get back!” Takua drew his sword and pointed it at Illum as he tried to advance. “I’m leaving this city, and I’m taking my friends with me.”
 
“Takua, please…”
 
“And you can’t convince me otherwise.”
 
“Very well,” Illum stood silent for a moment. He clutched the canister in his hands, slowly turning it in his palms. “Maybe I can't,” he looked up at Takua, and narrowed his eyes as his voice grew deeper. “But perhaps the Makuta can.”
 
With a flash of his arm, Illum threw the canister, and it smashed into Takua’s mask faster than he could react. The glass shattered on impact and the gas inside escaped, billowing around him as it forced its way into his lungs. 

Edited by ZOMBI3S, Aug 27 2014 - 09:52 AM.

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