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The Rhode of Del Vienvi

The Kingdom Toa Nuva MNOG Matoran UTYWA

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#1 Offline Nick Silverpen

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Posted Jun 09 2012 - 09:35 PM

Part Element, Part LegendI: The Rhode of Del VienviPrologueThe Element Lord of Water drifted between worlds.One minute he had been riding the River Dormus, the current taking him to the southern sector of Bara Magna. His watery form drifted through the current, traveling the river; He splashed against the rocks while fish swam through him. So insignificant they are, he thought. So small beneath my power.The next moment, the banks of the river were gone. The Element Lord suddenly felt space open. The mountains that towered above the river were gone. In fact, all land was gone. Even the water he floated in felt different. Salty, the Element Lord detected, like the ocean. For endless stretches, the sea existed in all directions. A sudden panic went through the Element Lord’s mind. What had just happened? How had he been transported from the River Dormus to this strange ocean?I must search this foreign ocean, and hope it has answers, the Element Lord decided, sensing the enormity of the waters. He then surged out, into the abyss of the ocean, anxious to explore the territory. He dived below the surface, descending to everywhere his influence touched.For a time, he grew bored, traveling for hundreds of miles and only viewing fish. It is merely a wasteland, the Element Lord thought to himself. But how did I arrive here, and how do I return to the River Dormus?Something finally appeared in the black waters, piquing his interest. A blue armored skeletal being floated close to the ocean floor, speaking in a strange, cryptic language to a companion. More beings like this one were nearby, interacting in the same mysterious tongue. Intriguing… he thought. His mind wondered briefly on their existence, and then decided that whoever these beings were, their identities were meaningless to him. Marking his presence with a ghostly aura, he left the beings to their lives and swam onward.He grew bored again as he explored reefs and caves that catacombed the ocean, only finding the remains of more biomechanical specimens, long dead. A waste of time, he grumbled, exiting the myriad of tombs. But until I find how to get to Dormus once more, time is all I have. Upon resignation, he ventured into one last cave. His dulled senses were sharpened in the blackness, detecting something peculiar. He sent his substance forth, prodding all of the cracks of the cave walls. One crack led to a dark pocket in the wall, which revealed a series of winding mazes that he traversed. Excitement rushed through the Element Lord as he swam deeper into the tunnel.At last he reached a chamber. It was enormous, impressively built at the intense depth. A long, final path stretched the middle of the chamber, leading to an elegant throne made of fish bones from a time long forgotten. Above the head of the throne, carved into the wall, was an emblem of the element of water. The throne sat empty, awaiting its long departed ruler.And its ruler had returned. The Element Lord swam through the chamber, marveling not at the elegant simplicity of the chamber, but of its significance. This had been his throne hundreds of thousands of years ago, torn from him by the Shattering. He had been on Bara Magna at the time, and so his empire of the sea was torn from him. The ocean was a mere droplet in comparison to the floods of realization that then overcame the Lord.So this is the fate of Aqua Magna, the Element Lord thought. The Great Sea, now home to strange biomechanical life forms. The Element Lord took one last sweeping observation of his throne, and then left the hideaway to be abandoned once more. He swam on, looking at the blank oceans in a new way.Another stretch of travel brought him to a huge structure, buried in the mud. It contained impossible proportions, seeming to extend beyond the endlessness of the ocean. Soaring beneath the water, he travelled for hours, observing the mammoth structure. It was a sculpture twisted and distorted by the years of salt water, on the verge of collapse in some places. As he moved forward, the Element Lord realized what this was: a robot. It was a mammoth machine, the size of an entire world. There was only one explanation to how this could be, the Element Lord thought. The Great Beings. Only they were possible of brilliant enough, or insane enough, to craft something of this size. And look at the creation of the “Great” Beings now, the Element Lord sneered. On the verge of collapse, sunken in the mud. I and my brethren are the only successful experiment of the old tinkerers. Destiny selected us, and doomed the Great Beings to their failure experiments. Swimming to the other end of the robot, however far it might be, he admitted he was still impressed. The Great Beings had constructed this in secret, without any inkling ever reaching the Agori. Spying a dark speck ahead, he sped up, anxious to see what lie on the surface. The speck grew exponentially, until the path he swam was cut off by land, extending hundreds of miles in any direction. On the surface, a metropolis reached for the sky; the shoreline was dotted with small huts, while towers lie beyond, competing with each other to be the tallest. Many styles of architecture could be seen on the horizon, yet the various cultures were united into a city grander than any ever seen on Spherus Magna. The Element Lord could sense the power the silhouette represented, as well as the power of individuals that walked among the city.He could sense it was there. Power, all of it, as well as the power to send him home. It was far within the mega-continent that sat on the robot, well beyond his reach. Small, biomechanical beings walked the beach, communicating in the same language as the ones underwater. He let his frustration out through a wave that lapped onshore; he could not access the power he needed, nor converse with the beings who fled his wave. But there was one other option…The robot underneath the sea was a main support for the landmass, the Lord could see. But it had been underwater far too long, corroded by salt water, and nearly on the verge of collapse. The landmass was not stable either- there were pockets here and there in vital points, the rock pitifully straining to stay together. It was due to fall apart soon…In a way, it is a mercy, he thought, gathering every ounce of his power. They will think they know the reason their land perishes, but they will never realize I was saving them from a death unseen. Bringing enormous masses of water together, the Element Lord let it build up, until a tsunami towered above the ocean. He turned it towards the land of the Kingdom, and let the tsunami unleash on the fearful inhabitants below.***A shudder ran through the ground of the giant island, disturbing its inhabitants in their daily work. Pausing to feel the tremor, they looked toward the blue sky. The earthquakes were no longer novelties in the Kingdom, even though the first of them came mere months ago. Chronic, but largely ignorable, everyone knew as they went back to their tasks. Then the island began to shake violently.This was no normal earthquake. Deep below the surface of the waves, the great mechanical being once known as Mata Nui had lay rusting for tens of thousands of years. Entropy had taken its toll on the giant over millennia spent underwater, weakening the bases of the mega-continent. All the years of careful reinforcement were swept away as the robot gave a sigh, collapsing on itself and sinking into the pits of the ocean. Now that the bases of the island were free, it was time for the inevitable to happen. The surfaces of the Kingdom began to crack. Buildings crumpled near the foundations; deep roots of towers tumbled to the ocean floor as currents pulled the metropolis apart. Toa of Stone and Earth created new land to bridge the widening gaps, but the ocean would rip them apart the instant they were formed. Nature was taking over, or so it seemed, and nature would win. The currents swirled and the land masses shifted, something occurring in the waters. The sea rose into a giant tidal wave, hovering, and crashing down on all sectors. Matoran who ran and screamed for loved ones fell silent, in fearful respect of the power about to crash down on them. As it did, pieces of the Kingdom were pushed away from each other, new shores twisted by the waters of Aqua Magna, separated by unfathomable leagues of water.As the world finally settled, the inhabitants of the old Kingdom found themselves in a new world. Separated from lifelong friends and allies, people would have to start new. But not a soul would ever forget the final day they were one people, from then on known as the Shattering. Many died that day, but many more still lived to develop new cultures on the lands that survived the waters of the Great Wave. Thousands of years would pass until anyone dared leave their homes again.Review

Edited by Nick Silverpen, Jun 23 2012 - 08:24 AM.

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#2 Offline Nick Silverpen

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Posted Jun 16 2012 - 05:23 PM

Chapter 1: The Island to the NorthMy eyes were half open to the sky, squinting into the heavenly shade of deep blue that faded to white over the ocean. A light rumble of waves carried on a gentle breeze, making its way up the sand. Held against the sky, my bronze forearm reached toward the early afternoon sunlight, the white and yellow rays that streamed between the houses like the reins of an island Rahi. If only those reins could be held, so the summer wouldn’t always slip away… “Ready?” the voice of the Ta-Matoran called. I sat up to see the figure of Tiribomba at the water’s edge, coiling a rope attached to the prow of the boat. Behind him, beyond the inlet, lay the distant ocean, mysterious and calling. I closed my journal beside me, satisfied with the words I had written, and picked myself up from the sand. It was time to go. “Ready as I’ll ever be,” I replied, coming aboard. Tiribomba nodded approval of my words, shoving the boat into deeper waters. Running through the shallows, he jumped, and I pulled him in. Once settled, together we grabbed the oars and began to row. We didn’t get far when we saw a hand waving from the marshes. Their calls brought us to the land’s edge, to find a Nireta, a local Ga-Matoran mapmaker, waving to us. “We can’t exactly give you a ride back to the village…” I said as we pulled up to the sandbar she stood on. “I wasn’t looking to go there,” she chuckled, waving that assumption off. “Are you guys the ones headed north?” “Peck is sending us up there, yeah,” Tiri told her. “Word travels fast around here, doesn’t it?” “Take me with you,” she pleaded. “I’m a mapmaker- I’ve mapped out this island far too many times, and now there’s this opportunity!” I looked at my friend, then at the Ga-Matoran. We had enough room for her, but we only packed enough food for two people for a week, at most. Yet she could be an asset… “Just remember to steer us north,” I joked. “I’m a navigator for a reason,” Nireta countered, steering the boat northward as we paddled onward. The land soon became a silhouette in the distance, our home drifting further as we rowed. It soon dissipated into the horizon, and we were gone. The sound of the waves had ceased, and all that could be heard was the dip of the oars and the slide of the boat as we pulled over the ocean. “What do you think is up there?” Nireta’s voice brought me back into the boat, my eyes having wandered out onto the flat ocean. The landless seas surrounded us, clear and never-ending. No breeze blew in the air, leaving the Ga-Matoran’s question to hang over us. “Rahi,” I answered. “We’re so used to the Rahi of the marshes, and I want to know what other creatures are out there.” I squared my oar for another stroke, helping Tiri propel the boat across the sea. “And what do you expect to find, Tiri?” “I’m here because Peck needed someone to investigate,” the Ta-Matoran replied, smoothly pushing water away. “Otherwise, I’m simply looking for an adventure with friends.” “You expect to discover destiny then,” I laughed.***The seas shallowed on the third day. We had cut through the ocean for two days, observing nothing but the sky. No clouds existed, and the sun seemed elusive, yet it still illuminated the air. It was surreal, being the dot that broke the endless horizon. I would look over the boat at times, the depths of the ocean clear and blue, never darkening. And early on the third morning something changed. Bottomless blue was suddenly white, the rays of the sunlight rippling the sand beneath the water. I smiled as I witnessed the ocean bottom glide beneath us. Further along our travels rose a sandbar that stretched toward the horizon. The sights of land granted me hope; we were close. The idea fuelled my mind, and I dug my paddle deeper, my strokes increasing in power. “This couldn’t be what he wanted us to find,” Nireta frowned at the sandbar, staring at the compass resting on her lap. “Look around and maybe you’ll see something more,” Tiribomba suggested, a grin on his mask. Sure enough, I followed his advice, and my Akaku’s telescope rested upon a black dot in the distance. The island to the north. *** As we grew closer to the island, currents pulled our boat back to sea. Tiri and I fought them, our oars bending as dug in. Soon enough our strength beat the ocean’s, and we rolled onto the beach. Nireta threw a pack on the sand and climbed out as the Ta-Matoran and I guided our boat to shore, small waves knocking it back and forth. A thin strip of white sand separated the water from an assembly of tropical trees that extended the run of the beach. Spotting shade, the three of us sought rest, plopping under a tree. Nireta plucked fruit from the branches, distributing it amongst us. I tasted a fruit as my eyepiece observed the curved coastline, where the trees overlapped the edge of the island. A rock rose several bio over the water, a deep black stone covered in sea junk, attracting my attention. “Interesting rock,” Nireta said, following the gaze of my eyepiece. She began to say something else, but the words became distant as my eyes closed.***Was I awake? I asked myself, uncertain if it were true. But hadn’t I just fallen asleep? I was still underneath the trees I had sat with my companions, but of them there was no trace. Getting to my feet, I figured I would walk along the beach to search for them, but a voice in my mind told me Nireta and Tiribomba would not be found. The sky was pinkish red, darkening all that lay below it. Sunset! Had I been asleep that long? Hopefully I could find the others before nightfall. I walked beside the forest, but the shadows of sunset prevented me from glimpsing its depths. The strip of sand was no longer white, but a yellow of the day’s last rays; the ocean had become black and as smooth as glass, so smooth that I believed it would support me if I walked on it. A movement up ahead caught my eye. Someone else was on the beach! At first I thought it was Tiribomba, but the shade of the armor wasn’t right. It then came to me- ahead of me was me! How was that possible? I shook my head, convinced the action would dispel the illusion, but when I looked again, I was still there. My interest in the scene grew as a shape formed in the crimson sky. The blob took shape, and there I was again; my arms were spread across the sky, as if I were preaching. Myself, preaching? It must be a joke, I thought, but there was no smile coming to my lips. The world misted away. The sand under my feet was replaced by the floor of a giant cavern, where the walls, covered in strange symbols, extended to an unfathomably high ceiling. On the floor lay a symbol of the three virtues, within rested a liquid into which I knew I would not survive a plunge. “You are not a Toa!” a voice rang. I whirled around, failing to find the source. “Who are you, stranger?” “Indeed, I am not a Toa,” came my answer as I searched for the voice. Could it be hidden within the shadows from the shimmering protodermis? “I am Bour, a Po-Matoran. But why is a Toa necessary? Why can’t a Matoran be enough?” “Power,” was the reply. “Power, greater than the philosophies and emotional, ‘moving’ speeches of the Matoran. Only the power of a Toa will help the Great Spirit of Civilization.” I frowned at the term. Mata Nui was the Great Spirit, and he had died thousands of years ago. How could a Toa help him now? Gazing into the shadows, I gestured to the pool of protodermis. “But you have all the power you could need right here,” my voice echoed. “This is the ultimate source! Think of what it could do!” “True,” the voice murmured, suddenly directly behind me. I whirled around to see a figure in the shadows, only their hands visible as they shoved me into the pool. “I never considered that an option.” I began to sink, feeling the protodermis rise up my body. Knowing I wouldn’t survive, a scream rose from my lips. Whispers of the figure, however cut through my single syllable. “Remember me when you wake, Bour. Remember the words of the Steel Visionary—“ “Have a nice nap, Bour?” Tiribomba smirked.***We hiked our way up the grassy hill, the rustle of the dunes the only noise interrupting the silence. No sound rose from the forest, or within the grasses, or even carried along the wind that buffeted over our ears. A stick would break underfoot, snapping the silence, but it would resume once more as our feet treaded the soil. I waded through the grasses with my eyes intently on Nireta, while I paced rather close to Tiribomba. That dream was still on my mind- I could not shake it off and carry on, like I did with every other dream. I felt as if the two of them walked too far away, they would disappear, and I would find myself encountering that shadowy being once again.We reached the summit, where a pond was nestled into a plateau that gave an uninhibited view of the land in all directions. I crouched on the edge of the water, my eyes scanning for the slightest ripple of movement; a crab scaling the coral, fish treading between the seaweed, anything. But not even the intensity of my stare could make the water ripple.This is too odd, I thought. First an abandoned Rahi burrow on the beach, a lifeless jungle and now an empty lake? This island should be teeming with Rahi, but there is nothing living anywhere. What is happening on this island? Drawing away from the lake, I walked over to where Tiri kneeled, his hand reaching over a ledge. Nireta sat cross legged where the soil gave way to a purple rock, scribbling the long crescent of the land into her maps. Her compass sat open on the ground, its dial pointed toward the “south” symbol. Were we at true north?Tiri’s head popped up, warning of the ledge that was only a few paces beyond. The rock suddenly ended, as if a portion of the land had been sliced away. Plummeting down, it met the shallows that trailed off where this spit and several others circled a deep lagoon. One island stood out from the rest, covered in bamboo, as opposed to the palm trees on all others. I looked hard for any sign of movement on the other islands, but it was like searching for a cloud in the desert sky.“It’s smooth,” Tiri informed, his hand brushing the face of the rock. “Like it’s been weathered by a wave.”“Interesting,” Nireta commented, joining us at the edge. We bent over the edge, looking down the wall of purple that dropped ten, twenty, thirty, at least forty feet to the shallows within the ring of islands. What the Ta-Matoran said was true, but no waves could reach high enough to rub the stone. It was old, unnaturally smooth, adding to the list of things unnatural about this island. We lingered only a moment, and then stood up with Tiri to look out at the islands. “What is it that Peck said he sent you up here for?” the Ga-Matoran asked.“He never said,” Tiribomba confirmed. “All we were told was that someone named Yetoxa needed two Matoran to go north, and he thought Bour and I should go.”“There must be something, something we haven’t found yet…” I added, adding a sample of the rock to my pack. I would study it at home, and maybe solve one mystery of this place.“Mata Nui!” Tiribomba exclaimed, pointing toward the other side of the lagoon. I spun on him, curious at his choice of words. “What is that?” My eyes darted to where he pointed, only in time to see a figure flee into the woods.The bamboo must have thwacked my mask a hundred times already as we ran through the forest. Light came down from the canopy in shafts, intermingling with the shadows that we weaved through. Ahead of me, Tiribomba’s and Nireta’s arms flailed in front of them, parting the branches to make a path, and somehow my hands missed the branches when they let the bamboo fly freely, my clumsiness allowing them to speed ahead. “Stupid Po-Matoran limbs,” I growled, knowing it was that which slowed me down.The island did not look large from the cliffside, but it was deep, and we wound further into the forest with each stride. There were a million places here that the being could have hid. There were no footprints we could follow, and for all I knew, they could be crouching nearby, or even on any of the several strips surrounding the lagoon.I stumbled into a clearing, where Tiri and Nireta stood in the quiet. The being was nowhere to be found, but we had discovered something else: A bunker sat upon the detritus, a dull silver arc rising above the fallen bamboo leaves. A set of stairs led down the side to a doorway that sat in the shadows. The other two were about to say something, but I held my hand up, listening for footsteps in the forest around us.“Could they be in there?” Nireta whispered, cocking her head toward the doorway.“Even if they are, I don’t like this. Too many mysteries for one island,” I said firmly, crossing my arms. “For starters, what could we have been sent up here for?” Tiribomba shrugged, jumping down to the doorway and wrenching on the iron handle. It swung open to reveal a staircase leading into the darkness below.“Maybe some answers are down here,” he said, holding the door for us.The heat of the island vanished as Tiri closed the door, the last bit of my confidence going with it. Our feet calmly descended to each cool step, but something inside me was beginning to panic; I was creeped out by the shadows and the narrowness of the staircase - if it weren’t for Nireta leading the way and Tiribomba behind, I would have bolted right back to the lagoon. I could guess at what was at the bottom, yet I didn’t want to be right.The darkness gave way to a shimmering light, and my fear faded to fascination, as we looked at the chamber of my dreams. Though the light of the protodermis shone on the walls, the symbols that stretched to the ceiling were still impossible to decipher. I wandered around the pool of the virtues, placing my hand on the transparent bubble- the being was absent, but nevertheless, this place was real. The other Matoran voiced their amazement, but I remained quiet, my brow darkening at the sound of a door opening.“Who goes?” Tiribomba cried, whirling as we looked for the source of the noise, but no walls gave way to a doorway.“I told you to remember me when you woke, Bour,” a voice called, coming from nowhere and everywhere at the same time. “Our dreams do more than entertain us during our sleep, Po-Matoran. They do far more than that.”“Show yourself, Steel Visionary!” I managed to yell out, my companions casting looks surprise at the mention of my name. “Explain your riddles- exploring this island has brought no answers to my questions.”The voice came from behind, an echo that floated into my ear like a whisper. “You need search only a while longer,” the Visionary cooed. Remembering my dream, I spun, but there were no hands to push me into the pool. From a shadowy, almost invisible doorway glimpsed yellow eyes, the protodermis shimmering on the figure’s armor; the Visionary lingered only for a moment, beckoning for us to follow as she retreated to a chamber in a ghostlike manner. Nynrah…it suddently dawned on me. I wanted to follow, but realized I wasn’t the only one who needed answers, as Tiribomba and Nireta were reluctant to follow.“When I was asleep, on the beach,” I stammered, “This place came to me, in a dream. I was looking for you, and wound up here. She- the Steel Visionary, said something about us Matoran and the Great Spirit, but I woke up before I could learn more.” They were quiet as clarity trickled into their eyes, but I could not completely meet their gaze. The weight of which the Visionary addressed me as “Matoran” perturbed me, as if she were disappointed that we weren’t Toa. There would be no telling of that part of the dream, I decided- I would let events play out; see if it had any significance. Maybe it was just an element of the dream, I hoped as we followed into the room.Every detail of the atoll was illustrated in the maps pinned on the walls; aerial views of the lagoon were set next to cross sections of the purple cliffs. Even the black rock I had observed was carefully diagrammed, labeled down to the cavities worn by the ocean. For what purpose? Came to mind as I watched Nireta become drawn to the maps. “‘Cipituez’,” she read aloud, a caption on the largest map. “The Great Spirit of Civilization,” said the Steel Visionary, who stood in a corner we explored the room of maps. The other two repeated the phrase, while I raised my brow with skepticism. “Mata Nui was the Great Spirit, and he has been dead for millennia,” I reminded everyone. “And you claimed that we Matoran can’t help him.” “Do you really believe that the Great Beings couldn’t have foreseen Mata Nui’s death? That they would have let the universe die if that Great Spirit perished?” “Then why aren’t we still in Metru Nui?” I challenged. “Cipituez was never meant to uphold that universe,” she explained, gesturing to the keystone in the archway we had come through. “He was meant to keep the Bionicle people together, through unity, while Mata Nui kept them united in their duty. Although you did not know it when you arrived, there was someone watching you,” the shadowy host continued. “In your village, aren’t there others who take up your duty when you retire for the day?” Neither Nireta nor I could relate, shaking our heads; Utywa depended on my skills, and Nireta was one of a kind. But Tiribomba, one of the many oyster farmers in the back bays, understood her. “No one can maintain a shift forever. Cipituez is that watcher, in case Mata Nui faltered, as he did.”“You speak of unity, and live in isolation,” I noted, “yet we are brought here for some duty.”“The seas have been shallower in recent months, lower than considered abnormal,” she pointed to a chart that displayed the cliffs; I nodded, remembering waterlines along the base of the wall. “I don’t know how it is south of here, but there is something out on the horizon, and it has brought a tension to the island. The animals have felt it, having simply disappeared, as they do when a storm is near. Even the island itself has grown tense, and if whatever is out there keeps escalating, there could be disaster here.” Handing us three bags and several maps, she ushered us back into the main chamber. “Your duty here is to relieve the tension; the objects in each bag need to go somewhere where only your kind will reach. Find them, and stop whatever is happening to this island.” In the blink of an eye, we found ourselves at the edge of the lagoon once more; whether she had teleported us or we simply did not remember the walk back, we were unsure.Our hands emerged from our bags with keystones, waiting to be placed somewhere on the island. My map lead back our landing spot, and I bewilderedly checked once, twice, three times, as my map lead to the black rock that rose out of the waters. Of all the places on the island, I thought as I waded out, pinning keystone niche near the top with my eyepiece. Stumbling up to the place where the niche was indicated, I barely held onto the crustacean covered handholds as I pulled off ages of seaweed and seashells, aware that the ocean below was a lengthy drop; I held my breath as a hole opened on the rock, travelling deeper than the rock did. The ocean below no longer became a concern, however, as I slipped in attempt to descend the rock, tumbling down the hole.A dark tunnel was all I could see as I tumbled for a long time, rolling further below the surface on a steep slope. The dirt that I slid under was almost like mud from the moisture of the ocean, and digging in to slow my pace was futile. The darkness made it seem like forever, but within moments the slope was reclining. As I came to a stop, I found myself in a smooth circular chamber, lined by six lightstones. In the center was a sort of suva, a light escaping from the cracks. A hum of energy could be heard emitting from underneath, some unknown power trying to escape. On the ceiling, tunnels dropped from all angle, oxygen coming from them so I could breathe- or were they vents going outward? I thought as I looked at the suva once more.Picking up a map that had fallen with me, I studied the illustration. There was the tunnel that brought me down here, and yes, there were vents that travelled upward… but below, what was that? Underneath this chamber, there was something else, its label cracked by the fall it had taken. I couldn’t tell what it was, but a sudden spike in temperature under my feet told me what I needed to know. Panic flooded me, and in response, the suva’s hum grew in intensity. I could feel something in the limited atmosphere, the tension that the Visionary talked about. I had to get out of here! But how?On the other side of chamber, a pool of water, big enough for me to sink into, seeped onto the floor, something from outside pushing the water in. This was my escape- it was the only escape, I knew, not catching sight of other tunnels that I could reach. Something was scribbled into a ring around the pool, the salt of the sea obscuring it. Sweeping it away, I read it quickly, and dove deep into the pool as I found my hunch was right.Take a deep breath, it said. I don’t know who wrote it, but I would thank them later.The pool dipped downward before shooting back up, my air bubbles leading way. I paddled fervently, feeling the cool water warming up. Little cavities in the tunnel were where fish and others sat, paddling panicked as they could feel the tension grow in the water each moment. I swam through the shadowy waters, hoping this tunnel led somewhere safe. Nireta was the swimmer of the group; I was the Po-Matoran, sinking like a stone. Each further stroke tired my body, and I was not sure if I could make the climb to whatever lay above.Light! Streams of sunlight met my eyes as I rounded a bend, and I burst out of the tunnel, followed by a few curious fish, the disappeared life of the island ascending with me. Open water was all around, ringed by land up above me. I kicked away from the navy bottom of the lagoon, until I was sputtering for air on the surface.“Bour?” came a voice. My response came in coughs as I heaved water, and I looked up to see Nireta and Tiribomba on either side of me, as we leaned against the purple cliffs. There was barely any time to recover, as I could feel the rock we leaned on shaking.“We have to go!” I half coughed, taking each of them by the hand as I tore them through the shallows, headed toward the safety of the bamboo forest. We didn’t get far, however, before a rumble coursed through the ground. “Duck! Duck!” I screamed as a boom came from behind, and a wave of power sent us through the air. My call came too late, and we came crashing down on the sandbar, slipping into the sand as unconsciousness overtook us.***The soreness in my shoulders brought me to consciousness, my muscles rotating to work out the tightness in them. My eyelids remained shut, still feeling the force of the explosion. I just wanted to lay there, awake but shut eyed, and allow my muscles to sink into whatever I lay on.Wait. My muscles could feel the bed? That wasn’t right. I cracked my eyelids, only to find a horrifying sight.I was naked.“What in the name--” I began to shout as I bolted upright. My chest and torso armor were gone from my body, leaving my organic parts exposed. The Steel Visionary sat in front of me, my armor in her hands, held against a larger, black chest plate. “What are you doing?” I cried. “Why do you have that?”“I simply wanted to make a comparison…” she trailed off, looking at the two pieces. “This is most peculiar.” I turned my head, and a sense of foreboding entered my mind at what I saw. Tiribomba sat on the bed next to me, but he was no longer the Ta-Matoran I knew. Taller, his armored torso now crimson and his mask changed, he was a Toa. With shocked silence he accepted his new chest plate, Nireta, the Visionary and I astounded as we eyed his form. My eyes slid to meet the Nynrah’s, who with a stoic face read the questions in my eyes: Why was it necessary? Why him? Tiri looked at himself with confusion, no doubt thinking the same questions.On the surface, the island was destroyed. The forests had been blown away, bamboo uprooted and laying on the ground around the bunker. The surrounding islands were obliterated, reduced to the sandbars they once had been. A dark crack ran deep into the cliffside, from where the explosion had leaked out, unable to contain the power underneath unleashed.We wanted to help the visionary clean up the disaster, but she insisted that we returned home. Out boat had been destroyed, and she helped us craft from the fallen bamboo a new one for our departure.“Ready?” The voice called. My eyes flicked upward from my journal to see the figure of Tiribomba standing at the water’s edge, coiling a rope attached to the prow of the boat. Nireta sat in the craft, rummaging through her packs. Behind her, beyond the waves, lay the distant ocean, mysterious and calling. I glanced down at my journal, rereading what I had written. Satisfied with the words, I closed the book and picked myself up from the sand. It was time to go.Review
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#3 Offline Nick Silverpen

Nick Silverpen
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Posted Jun 23 2012 - 08:15 AM

Chapter Two: Lighthouse for the Lost From the Journal of Bour: Eight days we have been rowing at sea. Eight days and eight nights Nireta, Tiribomba and I have been paddling home in this ocean, and I wonder when we will find land. How much further is it? I ask myself every day. It only took us half this time to row north. No, it’s not a complaint, just a curiosity of how vast this horizon is. Countless times I plunge my oar into the water, and I think to myself, “Home is merely one stroke closer.” Our trip from Cipituez seemed like a sign, that the world was calling; I’m simply wondering what the world is calling for. The Steel Visionary lived in isolation, content to tinker in her fortress; before embarking with Tiri and Nireta, I too didn’t mind working on my own through the day. We’re all individuals, satisfied with dwindling our lives away at our jobs. When we live for our work, we find we don’t need interactions from others. It’s a strange peace, I suppose, being with these two on the open seas. I feel like I belong to something special. I guess you don’t realize you’ve been alone until you’re in the company of friends. The Wall of Stars is clear tonight. It’s amazing how many stars shine bright in the heavens. How long have they burned up there? Will they burn forever? The Red Star hovers over us, shining brighter and closer than any star. The prophecies it predicted used to be plentiful in the old days, but seldom now does it pass through any significant constellations. Are the days of the Bionicle people burning out?*** My eyes flickered open, the sunrise waking me from my dreams. The sun had risen just above the ocean line, its golden rays pulsating through the fish scale clouds in the sky. The light unevenly shone upon the clouds, turning them into a mix of dark grey and dandelion splotching the sky. I craned my neck to see the white fluffs shifting along the air high above our boat. Around the sun, an orangey yellow colored the sky, while the blue of the day hung above our boat. I took all of this in as I admired the pulchritude of the fish scale clouds. Rain would be coming from these clouds soon enough, I thought grimly as I bit into a fruit. Never mind that, I told myself. Appreciate the beauty of the morning. My eyes settled on my sleeping companions when the sun became too bright. The Ga-Matoran and Toa of Fire slumbered on peacefully as I ate. The Toa of Fire… I encountered a pang of resentment as I thought of Tiri. During our journey to Cipituez, I had been told of great power in my dreams. I had dismissed it as merely a dream until Tiribomba had been transformed… I had to admit I was a bit jealous. If I was to be told of this power, why wasn’t I given it? I was happy for my friend, but things were slightly different now. We had been three Matoran on an adventure together- now it would be seen as a Toa and his two Matoran companions accompanying him on a quest. Tiri was still my friend, I knew, but it was no longer the same. As if sensing his name in my thoughts, the Great Ruru on Tiribomba’s face began to stir, and soon he was awake. He nodded a morning greeting, which I returned, and together we began to pull up the boat’s anchor. “We have to be close,” he remarked, nodding to the rising sun on the horizon. “What do you think everyone will say?” asked, indicating his Toa stature. “I don’t know, but I keep wondering why,” he shrugged, suggesting that he’d been thinking like I had been for the past few days. “Toa aren’t needed around much anymore.”Nireta stirred, ending our conversation. She rubbed her Kakama eyeholes, and yawned, a greeting blended in there. As she stretched, I noted how her teal armor matched the hue of the water. She could have swam right beside the boat and been completely invisible to us. “Beautiful clouds, eh?” she said to us, seeing the changing sky. “I’ve got a good feeling about today,” she said as she checked a compass. “I can feel it in my armor. Today’s just going to be a good day.” “Let’s get a move on,” Tiri chuckled as he began to paddle. I watched his back for a moment before joining in. We fell into a rhythm, a Toa-Matoran duo that propelled the small boat along the ocean. Mastering the beat of Tiri’s rate, I let my eyes shut, enjoying the calm of the work. The three of us alone, on the open, boundless sea. The ocean was so barren and endless, yet it supported so much life beneath the surface. It was a wondrous place, where being lost could lead to a miraculous adventure. What made the ocean so fascinating? Was it the blue sky, and the sun that constantly shifted and changes the hues of blue? Or was it the way it extended further than our sight, the simple flat landscape? Was it all of that, or none of it? Who knew, I decided. The more I thought, the more I felt time pass. It was like time and water were one, and pushing one away helped the other pass. “Let it run, Bour,” Nireta spoke much later. Pulling my oars in, I opened my eyes to view a drastically different scene from this morning. Clouds had collected across the sky, white fluffs now dark grey and in some places black. Thunderheads hung low, massive mountains towering above the water at dizzying apogees. “Some adventure, eh?” Nireta sarcastically commented. “Over a week, and not even a single monster of the deep.”“The goal is to explore the unknown,” Tiribomba laughed. “Although I’m sure Peck would appreciate knowing what dangerous creatures roam the sea.” I was about to say something, but an orotund thunderclap muted all conversation. From far off, a bolt of lightning sped down to meet the ocean. In response to the accelerating darkness, Tiribomba projected a number of fireballs to illuminate the boat. I took out my journal and began to read my old entries, my eyes peeking at the Toa of Fire every few lines. There were things I had wanted to write in the volume, but a voice in my head reminded me journals could be read. Minds, on the other hand, could not. A sizzle made me look up. The rain had finally begun, a drop landing on one of the fireballs. One by one, more drops descended until the ocean was like an overflowing water bucket, growing vaster with each drop that joined it. Tiri sat on his seat, entertaining himself as his fire fought the rain. I twisted away from my companions, gazing outside the boat. All around, the rain poured heavily; I stared deep into the nocturnal downpour as the now usual thoughts ran through my head. When will we find land? Tonight I wished for sweet dirt to step on, nothing more. I was a Po-Matoran- why had I signed up for a sea voyage? A light erupted from the darkness, slamming into our ship. The three of us raised our hands to shield our eyes, but as quick as the light arrived, it was gone, and we were left sitting in darkness. It flashed again, and as it passed, a brief thought crossed my mind: Safety Ahead. I wasn’t even sure if the thought was my own. Tiribomba stood up on his seat, squinting deep into the darkness. Using his Mask of Night Vision, he looked for something between the flashes. Nireta and I glanced anxiously from each other to the Toa between us. “What is it, Tiribomba?” Nireta asked over the rain. Tiri answered with silence for a few moments, and then jumped down into the boat, grasping his oars. “Let’s row!” The light shone upon us every few moments as we stroked toward it, battling the treacherous ocean around us. The rain splattered plain now thrashed, knocking waves into our boat; the rain slicked our oar shafts, our hands refusing to find a grip. We were fighting a useless battle against the sea, yet we still fiercely pulled on, determined to find this light. As the stormy waves tossed the bow high in the air, I saw Nireta’s fearful eyes watching ahead. Lightning flashed, and she cried out. At that point she gestured behind me, and the last thing I felt was the boat crashing against the rocks.*** It was what kept me asleep that awoke me. I felt the pain deep in my back, the comfort of the mattress I lay on impossible to appreciate. A gasp escaped my lips as I tried to roll onto my side, but the pressure in my back overwhelming me. Soon I gave up, sinking into the bed with a sigh as I abandoned my struggle.Hearing only the air void of sound, I reluctantly opened my eyes. A white ceiling met my upward gaze, joined by the blank wall my bed was set next to. Finding I could move my neck with only a dull throb, I turned my eyes, curious to explore where I was. A blue-grey carpet stretched over the floor to meet the trim at the bottom of the blank walls; across the room from the bed was a window, white sunlight shining in that blocked any sight that lay beyond. Behind the headstand of the bed, a doorway revealed a steel staircase that descended to the unknown.Where was I? I thought. Come to think of it, where was here? And where were Tiribomba and Nireta? The absence of my companions brought a wave of worry, my thoughts suddenly on them. Questions began to pile in my mind, my body becoming tenser until I realized I needed to breathe. Feeling the sudden weight of my eyelids as I exhaled, I shut my eyes. Whoever brought me here will have answers. Everything will be explained.Whether it was a moment later or hours later I could not tell. My eyes opened at the sounds of footsteps on the staircase, listening to them climb until a tall, black armored figure emerged from the doorway.“At last, you’re awake,” he said, walking to the window. He gave a glance outside as he took something out of his pack. With a flash he shot something, and I felt a surge of energy that left me breathless. I lay panting on the bed as he tried to help me up; I refused his assistance until it dawned on me that there was no pain in my back. “I didn’t want to try anything until you were conscious,” he explained, setting an empty Rhotuka launcher on the edge of my bed.“Thank you,” I puffed, sitting on the edge of the mattress. Looking at his tall figure, I blurted out, “Who are you?”“My name is Yetoxa,” he replied, chuckling as I raised my eyebrows. “Been a long time since you’ve seen a Vortixx?” I nodded.“Sorry,” I apologized, rubbing my eyes. “What is this place? Where are my friends?” Yetoxa helped me off the bed, and disappeared down the staircase. So, this is Yetoxa, I thought as I followed him down a long, carpeted hall. He paced forward, straight and posed never looking back to make certain I was still following. I glanced in the multitude of rooms that branched from the hall, wondering which ones, if any, my friends lay in. Neither of them, I found out as we emerged into a chamber. It was made of tannish blocks, a staircase spiraling up the walls to chambers unknown. Carved on the circular cobblestone floor was a mask, its design vaguely familiar, its empty eyes staring towards whatever lay above. On a stone bench set against the wall sat Nireta and Tiribomba, whom quietly exchanged words. The Toa of Fire caressed his wrist, but otherwise the two looked none the worse for wear.“Are you well?” I asked. With a nod, we clanked fists, relieved to be reunited. If jealousy had been the last thoughts of mine to Tiribomba, I could have never forgiven myself. Now hopefully I could start this day of our friendship on a better foot. As one, the three of us turned towards Yetoxa, who stood politely a distance away.“Thank you for rescuing us,” Tiribomba spoke, bowing slightly in gratitude. “It was my duty,” he replied with a small smile. “All travelers are allowed rest and sanctuary here.”“Where exactly is ‘here’?” Nireta asked, gesturing to the floor we stood on. The Vortixx’s smile became mysterious as he pointed to a doorway. “Follow me,” he said, “and I will tell you all there is to know.” Outside the chambers we emerged onto the edge of a vast peninsula, as Yetoxa led us along a path. IF one could look far enough, they could see a village in the distance, which I knew to be home. Up above, in the clear, midmorning sky, white, wispy clouds drifted towards the sea, hoping to merge together over the water. My eyes found the fragment of an oar shaft in the waves crashing against the rocky outcroppings along the cliff as we treaded down the path.The house we stood before held a grand yet weather beaten look about it, like a travel weary wanderer. White brick built up to twin tiers of decking that wrapped around the sides of the house, complimented by a widows walk near the top of the black shingled roof. Matching shutters accompanied the backdrop, eyelids to the dark windows that looked out to the water. The building was set around a tall, white tower that extended to the skies, its painted bricks boldly reflecting the wisps in the blue sky.“The lighthouse,” I muttered. This is what we were rowing to in the night. It had always been a sight on the horizon in the village, distant and in the back of my mind.“This is the Lighthouse for the Lost,” Yetoxa elaborated, waving his arm toward the structure. He smiled at the expressions on our masks; we would have never thought a building like this could exist just beyond the marshes. “Lighthouse for the lost?” Nireta repeated. “Why do you call it that?” “Because that is why I built it,” he replied. “Millennia ago, after the Shattering, I realized everyone was lost in the new world. I spent years afterward wandering this countryside, through the islands, until I realized here was where I was meant to be. This light is to show everyone can still be found. Although the Kingdom is shattered and we are separated by the sea, we are still united.” “How noble of you,” Tiribomba commented. “Your reasons are ones that rank.” “It took many years to build this,” Yetoxa quietly remarked, memories flashing in his eyes. “Many years of trial and error.” Unsure of what to say, we three visitors remained silent as we followed him around the house. As he gave us a tour of the perimeter, we came to a section of the wall that was badly damaged. A long stretch of bricks along the side of the house were chipped, and in some placed completely shattered. Tools lay around the wall, tools I found surprisingly familiar. “What happened here?” I asked Yetoxa, examining the bricks. “The storm,” he replied, pointing to a lightning rod positioned at the top of the wall. “A stray lightning bolt must have struck this side.” His eyes flickered between us and the damaged wall, then briefly at the scattered tools. “I am in the process of repairing it, but I am… slow when it comes to bricklaying.” I smiled at his honesty, and then cast a quick glance at the Toa of Fire. It would’ve been better if I were the Toa, I thought guiltily, but I guess Tiri will have his uses. “Fortune must be smiling upon you,” I reassured him. “For I am a bricklayer.” As the noon heat came, it added to Tiribomba’s flames, and I didn’t think anything could be hotter. This heat dwarfed any desert I had encountered, yet I needed to stay in the heat, to be certain the bricks my friend forged came out right. I used my telescopic eyepiece to watch the heat as it hardened the baking brick. Sweat poured underneath my mask as I shaped block after block; I could’ve sworn I felt my armor soften as I endured Tiri’s blazing palms. So much power he has, I thought as I removed another brick from the makeshift kiln. The cool breeze came as a relief as I finished the last brick. As the flames in Tiri’s palms winked out, a soft wind slowly began to blow away the stifling heat. Fresh air entered my lungs, and I could finally breathe in the sea air again. I blinked away the sweat in my eyes to see Tiribomba slumped over, drained. “Let’s cool off down at the ocean,” he suggested. I shook my head- there was still work to be done. “I’ll be back soon, then,” he panted as he set off. There was no rest for me after he left. I immediately went to work setting the base tier, carrying bricks from the pile and setting them align with the old wall. Mortar was applied, and I went to start the next layer, only to see Yetoxa standing ready with several bricks in hand. “I can’t let you do this all yourself,” he said, starting the next layer. We worked together, time dragging by as we did so, yet the wall seemed to fill itself in. As bricks were passed, so did Yetoxa’s questions of home. As he listened, would smile at certain names, nodding with a distant look in his eyes. He had been there in the early days, when UTYWA was being colonized, and even though he lived far off from the village, his memory still remained. The wall was soon finished, and as we admired our handiwork, footsteps could be heard in the dirt. We turned to see Tiribomba walking along the path from the beach, the late afternoon sky behind him. “Look who decided to show up,” I teased. “The wall is already done.” “Without me, you wouldn’t have the bricks to build,” he retorted, holding out a bundle in his hand. “While I was down there, I found a few of our things from the boat. Your book and some of Nireta’s things were strewn along the shore.” He offered my journal, which I leafed through. The pages rippled from exposure to the sea water, but they were still salvageable. “I didn’t read it,” he assured me as I examined the pages. I nodded to him, and then turned to address Yetoxa, who was staring at the sky. “Oh, no,” the Vortixx half moaned. He shook his head worriedly, then gestured to the lighthouse. “We must go!” Abandoning the tool- littered site, he began running towards the house. Tiribomba and I shrugged, then whisked off to catch him. We met Nireta in the base of the tower, where she stood at the bottom of the steps, while Yetoxa was somewhere ahead, his footsteps echoing on the staircase. “Hurry!” he urgently called. With a burst of speed, we were pursuing him, sprinting as hard as we could upwards, the tannish walls of the tower blurring by. I ran along the curvature of the staircase, ahead of the others by only a few steps, and out of the corner of my eye, I could see the Keeper several flights above us. My mask turned to pinpoint him, bit something else caught my eye. The hanging space beyond the railing looked intriguing, as if it weren’t just a void. I was surprised to see my hand reaching out, feeling for something tangible, not just empty air. I was attracted to that space in the between until I noticed my partners ahead of me, and bolted to catch up. We finally rejoined the Vortixx at a landing, where we sat for a moment, dispelling our panting. Tiribomba stood slumped, with his hands on his knees, while I leaned against the wall, winded. Nireta sat on the ledge of a window that faced the ocean. Yetoxa stood silently, his eyes watching outside. The sun had drifted lower, the top of the horizon a darkening blue, which shifted to a golden yellow closer to the ocean line. “My friends, you have come a long way,” Yetoxa nearly whispered. “I didn’t think the wall would take us this late in the day, and if the time had passed, I wouldn’t have been able to show you…” He trailed off, glancing at the steps ahead. “We made this climb so you could see what brought you here, one of the greatest accomplishments since the Kingdom itself. You’re explorers, and I want you to see this… to make your journey worthy.” With a faint smile, he urged us on, giving more questions than answers. The greatest project since the Kingdom… what could that mean? I asked myself, cautious as I climbed the final steps. What were we about to encounter? It was a blank chamber. The floor was a shallow silver bowl, and the walls were a honeycomb shaped window that looked out to the horizon. From this dome we could see everything, from the edges of the ocean all the way down to the village. This is the light chamber, I realized. But where is the light source? There was no giant lens; no large candle surrounded by a complicated apparatus, only… a Toa. A lone Toa sat on the floor, in meditation. The eyes behind the Kanohi Akaku he wore were shut, and his heartlight glowed brightly. My eyes curiously studied his white and lime green armor. Not an element I recognized. “Solek,” called Yetoxa from the door. The Toa opened his eyes slowly, weariness seeming to hang from his eyelids like bags. He stood up, his muscles flexing awkwardly as he rose, as if they were stiff. “You have visitors,” Yetoxa told him. “Who are they?” Solek called in a dazed, slurred voice. He looked at us as if we were merely images, and not really there. “Travelers,” Yetoxa answered. “They are the ones we sent north. They were rowing, in a storm, and saw your light. They came to us.” “I remember something, in the storm,” Solek said. “Three beings, out on the water, and I thought, ‘safety ahead’. This must be them.” I perked my head, my interest in this Toa growing. So the thought wasn’t my own. “Who are you?” I asked. “I heard that on the night we saw the light.” “I am Toa Solek,” he answered, a hint of pride in his voice. “Toa of Light.” “A Toa of Light,” Tiribomba repeated the phrase. They were a rare type of Toa, I recalled, only two of them were known to have exist. This explained his odd armor color. But as for the thoughts… “You are confused, aren’t you,” Solek guessed. We nodded. “Long ago, when I became a Toa, I was so eager… but there was nothing for me to be eager for. It was a quiet time, and my village had no need of Toa. I heard Yetoxa was building something along the coastline, so I left my village to help him. When I saw the tower, I figured what he was doing, and I had this sudden idea, so simple… I was a Toa of Light, so why not become the light for the lighthouse?” So I trained. I pushed my Toa power to its limits, and I was finally able to transform into pure light. I figured that was my destiny, to search for those lost at sea.” The three of us stood there, appalled and touched by his story. “He helps around the lighthouse when he is able,” Yetoxa piped from the doorway, flashing the Toa a smile. “But the transformation costs much energy.” “You are a great Toa,” Tiribomba spoke, awed. “You do more to protect anyone in a single night than I could in a century.” I was shocked as I heard a hint of shame came from the Toa of Fire’s lips. “But it is an honor to call you brother, nonetheless,” he added, clanking the Toa of Light’s fist. Past them, on the horizon, the golden orb had touched the sea, the sky becoming deep red and gold. Sunset.“Solek, my friend- the sun,” Yetoxa warned, acting on my observation. He nodded and ushered the four of us out.“It was good to meet you,” came Solek’s goodbye. “Just seeing you three makes the sacrifice worthwhile.” With that, the sun began to sink beyond the ocean, and in response, a white beam shot from Solek’s heartlight, traveling through the window and into the distance. His body began to coruscate, then broke into particles of light. The particles condensed into a ball, and Solek ceased to be a physical being, as the Toa power within him took over. We stood on the landing, amazed by the nightly phenomenon. Our eyes averted into the settling darkness, as we were unwilling to risk blindness. Soon Yetoxa gestured, and we followed him down the staircase.“That was amazing!” Tiribomba cried. “No Toa before had transformed themselves into their element. He is a great Toa to have done it.”“He is indeed great,” Yetoxa agreed, feeling a surge of pride for his friend. “And you three make his sacrifice worth it. His light will be extra bright tonight, now that he knows he has found people out there. I stay up on the landing, some nights, just watching him. It never ceases to amaze me, what he has pushed himself to do.” We walked down the staircase in silence, each of us in our own thoughts about the Toa overhead. Solek’s speech was moving, and I wondered how Tiribomba was touched by it. He stood a little taller as we walked, and the way he held his palm of fire as he led us…We reached the base of the tower once more, passing through a soft column of light that fell from Solek’s chamber that provided a small comfort in the slight chill of the evening that surrounded us. We entered a dark room, and I was blinded by shadows, until Tiri lit a fireplace. On a table, Yetoxa had food, which he offered to us to roast over the fire. We sat on the benches, staring into the fire and eating silently. Yetoxa stared at the fire as well, but there seemed to be a fire inside his eyes. He peered deeply into the flames for what seemed like eternity, and then looked at the three of us, as if he had remembered something. “So, you’re explorers,” he said. “Tell me about what you found up north.”*** My awakening thought was that it had all been a dream. I had dreamt that we arrived at a lighthouse, and a Toa transformed into pure light. Was it a dream? The question echoed through my head. I lay on the bed, staring at the ceiling, searching for some truth in the blankness. Was it all really real? Yes, it was, I decided as I felt my sore arms. The muscle under the armor ached as I picked myself up, sitting on the edge of the bed. Feeling the dead weight of my limbs, it all came back to me- the wall, the sprint up the steps… no dream. Rowing one day, bricklaying the next. What will today bring? I thought as I headed down the steel staircase. Not a soul roamed the floor of the halls. I walked around the house, half curious as to where my companions rested. In each room, not a cot was disturbed; no one was found sleeping peacefully in a bed. I treaded the carpet, enjoying the silence of the morning. Where anyone could be, I did not know. The house wasn’t as empty as it seemed, I realized as I entered the tower. Toa Solek walked down the steps from his chamber, struggling with his cane in hand. Seeing his footing unsteady, I rushed to guide him to the bench. “Thank you,” he told me as we reached the bottom. He sat down, slumping against the wall as he looked around. “I haven’t been down here in months,” he muttered. “Oh, how eager I used to be…” Turning to me, he asked, “What is your name?” “Bour,” I replied, watching him rub his eyelids. “What brings you down here, Toa Solek?” I queried. “From up there, I can see many things, near and far,” the Toa replied, straightening himself as he pushed himself up. “The garden needed tending. Let us go to it.” I followed him out to a clear morning sky, where the breeze blew along the path. Sounds from yesterday’s construction site reached us at the garden. Yetoxa and Tiribomba must be cleaning up, I supposed. When we reached the edge of the garden bed, I gazed in to see a jungle. Weeds broke through the earth to crawl among the plants, wrapping themselves along the vines that sustained food.Solek dropped to his knees, crawling through the dirt to pick the invaders out. I followed, freeing the plants and picking ripe fruits. The garden was untangled, letting the plants breathe. Dead roots were pruned, and soon the garden was free of parasites. The soil looked clean again. With the flick of his wrist, Solek incinerated the accumulated pile, and we headed to store the food. We passed by the wall, where a fresh coat of paint had been applied. I admired the brickwork, hoping that the wall would remain erect for many years to come. The others stood on the cliffs, looking to the sea, where we joined them. If Yetoxa was surprised to see Solek out, he did not show it.The ocean was calm, small waves arriving on the shores of the land. Sea birds flew above us, squawking loudly. A breeze reached our vantage point, displaying a sample of nature’s power. The sea seemed to be never ending. Was it? Or were there borders? Far out, almost on the horizon line, a cloud stretched further than the eye could see. The cloud was pure black, Solek reported from his Kanohi. The wisps on the sky had collected over the past few days to form the mammoth cloud, appearing like a cavalry, lined up on the battlefield and waiting for the command to charge.“That’s a powerful storm building out there,” Tiribomba thought aloud. “Could it be stronger than the one that brought us here?”“Infinitely,” Solek sounded grim. He looked thoughtfully at Yetoxa. “Do you suppose this place can withstand it?”“We’ll have to see,” He replied.“We’ll stay with you,” Nireta swore. “Protect the lighthouse from destruction. We entered this storm, and we’re not leaving until it has cleared.”“No,” Solek denied. “We can hold down the fort here. You are needed elsewhere.” He turned and pointed to the village, where the smoke of morning fires rose into the sky. “Out there is where you need to be. Warn your neighbors, attend to your homes. Assisting the village would help us in many ways.”“Will we have to walk there?” I worriedly asked, gesturing to the cove which the remains of our boat still floated. The storm, even from a distance, began to strike fear in my heart.“No, no,” Yetoxa chuckled. “Follow me, comrades.”***Yetoxa calls it the Lighthouse for the Lost- he is right. Arriving there helped me rediscover myself. Whether it be chance or fate, I’ve found as much significance in myself as in Nireta, the mapmaker, or Tiribomba, Toa of Fire. I now realize that I didn’t have to be the one picked at Cipituez; the title “Bour, Toa of Stone” was only a wish, temporary like the tide. We all have our own destinies, and I can’t wish for someone else’s. The muscles are at a now familiar work once more. We row again, in a boat kindly provided by Yetoxa. Solek warned us that if we did not help the village, they were doomed. So now we venture through the wetlands between the two places. Many intriguing creatures roam the grasses. I would like to stop and observe them for hours, but the sky reminds me of my duty to the Lighthouse. Maybe after the storm is finished, they can be studied.We told the two Lighthouse guardians of what happened at Cipituez. They never suspected a land so far out in isolation. It was a trip to be remembered, and maybe when all is said and done, we can go back. For now, though, it’s time to focus on protecting that small isle off of Del Vienvi… Review
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#4 Offline Nick Silverpen

Nick Silverpen
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Posted Jun 30 2012 - 08:58 AM

Chapter Three: The Village of Weary Kopaka woke with a start as the beam shone upon his mask. He inhaled sharply, the cool night air filling his lungs as he was taken by surprise, his sleep interrupted. The Toa of Ice sat up on his bed, squinting as he used his hand to block the glare. It did not come directly outside his window, he observed. Using his Kanohi Nuva of Vision, he saw through the light to miles away, where the source of the light glowed brightly. Kopaka… came a telepathic voice. The voice, like the light it came from, cut through the still and silent darkness of the late summer night. “What are you doing, projecting yourself out here, old friend?” Kopaka spoke aloud, sitting on his bed, feeling the minute warmth of the light. “You should be on the lookout for sailors, Solek. But what brings you here tonight?” Sailors have arrived here, Kopaka. The Matoran who were sent north have returned. And… a storm has followed them. Kopaka sat silent, staring into the darkness. Beyond Solek’s beam, he could see his desk sitting in the shadow. A storm had followed them. The sentence echoed in Kopaka’s head. Hurricane seasons had come and gone through Kopaka’s village for millennia. Each year the storms would come, taking away parts of the island, and Kopaka and his village would fiercely defend their homes. But now… maybe it was simply the lateness of the night call, but Kopaka sat in the light, thinking, Why do we need to go through this… again? It sounded like another storm, but Solek’s tone hinted something darker… The clouds are pitch black, sitting out there on the horizon, Solek reported. It scares me, because it is unlike anything I have seen here before. If the winds carry in this direction, the storm will wreak some havoc on the village. Who knows what might be left standing. “We are Toa,” Kopaka said, rubbing his eyes. This had not been the best wake-up call he had received. “We can control the elements, but sadly not nature. In this situation, any action of our power is only denying the inevitable. No amount of our power will hold off a storm forever. What of these travelers, Solek?” Two Matoran and a Toa of Fire. Yetoxa rescued them in the storm last night, which already damaged the Lighthouse. Yetoxa is certain that we both can protect the Lighthouse, and he wants to send the travelers to help the village. “I cannot stop his actions,” Kopaka spoke coldly. “I believe that the Lighthouse needs more protection, but you are one of the few who values my opinion these days. If Yetoxa thinks that they will be useful, let them come.” The beam gave no response, and there was silence in the room again. Kopaka sat, thinking about Solek’s words. Hopefully this was a dream, Kopaka thought as he lay down on his bed. Rest well, Toa Kopaka. “You as well, Toa Solek.” *** Kopaka stood in somewhere in a desert, a sandstorm rampaging around him. Beneath his feet lay a brick platform, extending beyond the raging storm. The wind blew fiercely, the airborne sand whipping through his mask. The wind was fiercer than any other the Toa of Ice had known, but he remained rooted to the platform. Next to Kopaka stood a powerful Toa of Fire. His armor and mask blazed crimson, a shade red purer than any fire ever burned; inspiration radiated from him, keeping his friend calm in the storm. Kopaka had been with him in the beginning and in the end, and yet he had never viewed him like this. His eyes refused to make contact with Kopaka’s as he stared deep into the sandstorm. “It is time to start another layer,” he said, gesturing to the platform. The icy one did not even understand what he was talking about, the words were slipping from his lips. The Toa was not responding, and the Toa of Ice went to nudge his brother, but found he could not move. “It is wide enough.” Knowledge of the scene flooded Kopaka’s head, and he understood. But the other disagreed, shaking his head. “No, brother,” he replied, frowning. “You are not prepared for the next layer. The wider it extends, the higher it goes. Remember the first trial? The pyramid collapsed early on, because the base was not wide enough. It will happen again, until you learn your mistake. We need to build wider, in hopes of reaching a peak beyond anything our imaginations can fathom.” Kopaka began to argue, but the Toa whirled, and their eyes connected. In his, Kopaka expected warmth and comfort, but saw something that froze even him. “You may have built with me for years, but yet you have to gain the experience to build something that reaches above your head. If you do not use the tools I give you properly, the base will sink beneath the sands and bring you with it. Goodbye and good luck with your project.” “No!” Kopaka cried, reaching for the space where the Toa had been. He had faded before he flexed a muscle. He fell to his knees. Without him, the pyramid would fall, just as he foretold. Already Kopaka could feel the base lowering as the sand came up to swallow it. There was no way that he could fix it, for the resources he needed were gone with the Toa. The Toa of Ice wanted to escape, to find his partner, so they could fix it. He wished he had listened to him. The one gone was a leader, he knew naturally what to do- Kopaka had not a clue, and he needed his friend. Kopaka would venture out into the ferocity of the sandstorm to bring his brother back, if that was what it took to save the base… There were pyramids before, and there would be more to come, rang a voice. “But this one was supposed to be finished!” Kopaka sniffled. He sat there, sobbing, mourning, even as he sank lower into the sand….***Kopaka’s eyelids rose with the morning sun, the chill of the morning spring air seeping through the walls. It was the beginning of autumn, but it felt like mid winter. The Toa of Ice sat up, awake, remembering the events of the night before. Was it a dream? He asked himself, but immediately dismissed the thought. The light of Solek had awoken him and warned of an oncoming storm. It was real, there was no denying it. Yet as he looked out his window, above the village homes, he saw the cloudless skies. A purest blue lay above the land. It may not be here today, Kopaka thought, but it will come. Drawing himself from the window, Kopaka left his home, only glancing at his ice blade, mounted on the wall as he closed the door. That blade had been used in countless battles, saving Kopaka’s life innumerable times. The power is in me. The sword is but the focus, Kopaka remembered. He had thought that the first time he used his blade in Ko-Wahi, tens of thousands of years ago. The Toa of Ice walked among the houses in the quiet streets, the town shadowed and grey underneath the morning sunrise. Making his way toward the beach, he climbed over the rocks that separated the roads from the beaches, walking along the rock pier that went out to the water. He plopped himself down, gazing out at the flat morning surf. Watching the splayed ocean, frayed by only the dinky waves on shore, he focused his thoughts. There were two warnings last night. Solek’s and… the dream. Dreams mean something, I know that. That was a warning. But what was it warning me of? Kopaka leaned his head against the jetty and pondered deeply.***Our boat jumped forward as our oar snapped to the surface, the blades sending our puddles swirling into the marshes. The blades trailed mud as Tiribomba and I leaned forward for another stroke, and I could feel the bottom of the stream against my oar’s edge as I pried. Over the side of the boat, the waters were dark; however, we could feel the bottom of our vessel dragging along the shallow channel, letting us know how low the tide truly was. Not all still waters run deep, I thought, watching the water we left behind, as flat as glass once more.The marsh grasses breezed by as we rowed, sitting high on mud banks on either side of the channel. The green yellow walls of marshes stood together like soldiers, erect at attention, yet they tilted in the slightest breeze. From the light blue morning sky, a warm gust would come down, playing across my neck as it rusted the turf. My eyes drifted from Tiribomba’s shoulder blades to the grasses that cut through my peripheral vision.Our boat came to a halt as we slid onto a mud bank once more. Tiribomba grunted as he used his oar as a shovel, pushing the boat hopefully towards water. I hope we don’t have to push this thing again, I thought as I did the same. Nireta squatted uncomfortably among the supplies we carried. Heavily stocked, carrying two Matoran and a Toa, it was a wonder we had made it this far. Yetoxa had loaded the boat with as much as we could carry, back to the village, desiring to help us prepare for the storm as much as he could.The boat finally ended up in deeper waters, and we began rowing once more, cautious of the mud. Nireta fumbled with the map, and I chuckled. “The Ga-Matoran who gets lost in the stream,” I teased, calling to her over Tiri’s shoulder. My thoughts were interrupted by a distant rhythm; my ears perked as I heard the ocean crashing on the shore. Kshh. Kshh. We had traveled through this maze of streams, and now an exodus had finally been discovered. The gentle sound carried over the marshes, energizing us with hope as our strokes grew stronger. The boat jumped as it traveled through the portal to the sea.We emerged from the streams into the seaway, waves slapping against the bow as we interrupted their path to the shore. As we plowed through the surf, larger crests batted the hull, the bow veering up to touch the sky. Sea spray flew in the sky, only to rain down on us. Nireta found herself grabbing hold of the sides of the boat, afraid to be flung out, while Tiribomba and I dipped our oars, struggling to keep the boat parallel to the ocean line.We cruised out into the clear ocean, our fatigued arms lightly stroking the calm ocean. Calling for a rest, my eyes observed the coastline as my body slumped, exhausted. Ahead of our stern was the outer wall of the marsh maze. The green yellow grasses swayed, resisting the continuous beating of the spindrifts, extending to unseen points in either direction. As it ran southwest, the lighthouse protruded above the marshes, a tall white candlestick on the horizon; to the northeast, the grasses pointed to the village, which, despite its proximity, still hung in a distant haze. Almost home, I thought, smiling slightly.“The Cavalry has disappeared,” Nireta said, waving to the free sky. Heeding her claim, I saw it was true- the approaching storm we had dubbed ‘the Cavalry’ had vanished from the sky. We had wandered through the maze as a shortcut to give the village an early warning, and now it was gone. I frowned. Where had it disappeared to? “Don’t worry,” Tiribomba remarked, gazing warily as he took a stroke. “It’ll be back.”***A long breath of relief escaped me as the village finally came into sight. My legs ached as I waded across the sandbar, heavy from trudging through the muck of low tide. In my hand was a rope that dangled out into the bay, containing the last crab trap of my rounds. I had walked far along the marshes this morning, only to find each and every one of my pots washed clean by the recent storm, not even a scrap of bait left. I stumbled home now, hoping I would have some better luck with this final trap.I felt the drag of the cage from underwater as I pulled and pried, retrieving my catch from the depths of the channel. My feet dug into the sandbar, my calves flexing underneath my armor as my wobbly muscles pulled harder. The trap then broke the surface, flying out into the air, and I fell back into the sandbar as the tension on the rope vanished. It was relaxing, laying in the soft mud; I wanted to stay there, have a rest from walking, but the water creeping up my face reminded me how much I enjoyed air.I sat up, shrugging off the mud, a grin coming to my face. The crab trap had landed on the entrance, preventing any of the creatures I had caught from escaping. Maybe my luck is turning, I thought as I picked up the cage. Keras and hahnah crabs scuttled in the bars, clawing at one another. Tonight I would eat well, I decided, picking up the cage and resuming my plod home. I didn’t get far before hearing a noise from behind; Coming down the channel was a rowboat, three beings in it. The one Matoran, Nireta, I recognized, and the Toa seemed vaguely familiar… was that Tiribomba? I silently laughed, looking once more at my catch, and at the oncoming boat. Maybe my luck was changing, I thought as I walked toward the boat.***We passed into village waters, leaving the marsh grasses behind. Tiri and I rowed past the houses that hung off the island, weaving around the wooden and metal mishmash of docks extending into the bay. Next to Nireta sat Cenolb, one of the island crabbers, the two of them squashed in with the supplies.“So… you’re a Toa,” Cenolb said to Tiribomba, breaking the awkward silence that hung in the boat.“I’m still a Ta-Matoran, just taller,” he grinned, going for another stroke. “That’s some pot you got there,” he nodded to the cage in Cenolb’s lap. “It was my best pot of the day,” the crabber told him, offering Nireta a closer look. “In fact, it’s my only pot of the day,” he added with a weary chuckle.“What happened to the others?” Nireta asked, eyeing a crab scuttling away from another in the cage.“The storm washed them clean,” Cenolb reported. “Not even a scrap of bait was left.”“You may not want to reset those traps,” I grunted. “There’s a storm coming, worse than the first.”“Worse than the first?” Our guest replied, eyeing the guts of the boat and taking in its contents. “Then with all this supplies and Tiribomba being a Toa, I’m guessing the three of you aren’t coming back from vacation.” A silence fell within the boat at that. We rowed on, Cenolb only speaking to give directions to his house or to wave to the fisherman sitting idly on the docks. Sensing the journey’s end, Tiri and I had settled to a slow crawl along the water, unable to pull much harder. Our hands went up to our faces as we coasted into Cenolb’s dock, the pockets of sunlight on the bay dazzling our eyes.“Thanks for the dock,” Tiri grinned as he stumbled onto the dock.“Thanks for the ride,” Cenolb countered, grinning as he tied down the boat. “Come in for a moment. You three look spent.” I nodded, replacing the parcel I had picked up from the bow. The crabber, trap in hand, led us up the dock, ascending to a wooden porch; we followed him up the staircase and into the darkness beyond the screen door. The shadows seemed welcoming as we entered Cenolb’s home, a relief from the brightness outside. Our eyes slowly adjusted to the darkness, gradually making out the kitchen we stood in. The three of us sunk into the chairs surrounding the table where the cage sat, while the crabber ducked into the halls, looking for something. Tiri slumped, his closed eyes looking toward the ceiling, his long legs sprawled underneath the table; Nireta shrunk into the back of the chair, massaging her temples. I just sat there, my rubbery arms too weak to lift to the table. I could feel my eyelids drooping, and I let them close for the moment, feeling my eyes roll into my head. Today’s row had taxed our strength.“Jaatikko and Azibo aren’t here,” our host’s voice jolted us, our bodies snapping out of our trance as he walked into the room.“Where’s Peck?” Nireta queried.“Probably the same place they are- the bar,” he guessed. “Sorry to cut your rest short, but do you mind taking a short walk?”A few moments later found us outside again, as Cenolb led the way, cage in hand, down an avenue of houses. Our feet paced the dirt road, and my heavy eyes were drawn to the homes that lined the street. Broken shell pathways cut through the grasses of the properties to vacant lots that occupied the space under some houses, while wide staircases led to open aired porches on others. Shadows relaxed in low laying breezeways, sheets of blackness covering the windows. Wraparound decks and balconies loomed over twin garages, and shingles led their way up to tall roof lines, short only to the midday sky. Colors that complimented the front yard gardens were painted onto the houses- dark reds, blues and yellows, standing next to each other, accentuated by the dark browns of stilts and the still green grasses of the bushes below. A Steltian sat on the staircase of his home, applying a coat of turquoise to the rail. The colors clashed as we walked further, yet it all melted into a neighborhood feel.As I observed the architecture of the avenue, Solek’s words came back to me- if we did not warn the village in time, Utywa would be doomed. I realized now what that exactly meant- we weren’t just protecting lives, but our homes as well. Glancing at a few houses with tired eyes, I remembered that I had laid the foundations of some of these houses. A sense of pride briefly rushed through me- there was no way I would let a storm topple what I had helped raise.Turning off the street, we walked up a gravelly pathway, following the clatter and chitter chatter that floated out the screened windows. Tiri opened the door, letting us step inside the crowded bar. Within the boundaries of the orange walls, Skakdi and Matoran sat among the tables, relaxing in the calm of the day. Cenolb ducked into the kitchen, where a bruiser could be seen scrubbing a pan, while we wound through the crowd. Several eyes were drawn to Tiribomba as we passed their tables, low mutters and raised brows acknowledging the new Toa of Fire. Some of our friends were there, and I could tell he wanted to greet them, but the change in tone nearby made Tiri feel uncomfortable. Walking through the crowd without a word, we sank into the booth, drained. Cenolb soon joined us, dropping a tray of steamed crabs in front of us.“Don’t worry,” he said, noticing how Tiribomba watched the crowd. “You’ll be the island gossip for a few days, and then everything will be back to normal.” Glancing back to the kitchen door, he pushed the tray closer to us. “Peck says he has a little longer on shift, but he will be out to see you. For the meantime, eat.”“But this is your catch, isn’t it?” Nireta gestured to the dish. “We can’t!”“There’s plenty of food here,” he assured her. I smiled in gratitude, pulling some of the meat from the crab shell. The flavor sat in my mouth, and I closed my eyes, savoring it, letting my hand drop into my lap.While Bour slept, the sun slid across the sky, white rays shifting to an orange glow that hung over the bay. The late afternoon light shown down on the reeds, giving them a pale look, as if winter had arrived. Winter did arrive at the bar, in the form of Kopaka. Slumping on a stool, he stared into his glass, frustration and disappointment emitting from his armor in an icy aura as he stared into his glass. He had wasted the day, sitting on the jetty for hours, pondering Solek’s warning; using his Akaku Nuva to analyze the sky, he could see the storm forming, the warning signs in the air. Why didn’t he relay the message?They would not believe me, he thought bitterly, conscious of the people around him; Skakdi, Matoran and others sat at each table, elatedly chatting with one another, while he sat alone with a troubled mind. Tahu they’d believe, came the angry thought, remembering his dream from last night. He was always action. He would never have been the way I have through the years here. Or they’d believe one another, but never the loner. No, never me, especially with the estival season almost over.A tap on his shoulder brought him out of his glass. Kopaka looked at Tiribomba standing before him, sun from outside shining on his fresh black and crimson armor. So, this is the Toa that Yetoxa sent. He had been the only Toa on the island for many years, so he immediately knew who the newcomer was.“Kopaka,” Tiribomba greeted him with a slight bow. “You were one of the greatest warriors of the past, and now it is an honor to call you brother. I—”“’Warrior’? Is that all you think a Toa is?” Kopaka exclaimed, quiet rage on his mask. Eyeing up the new elemental, he shot, “Oh, you probably think that because of Tahu; it was always Tahu, always fire that recieved the glory. We were more than warriors- we were protectors! A Toa isn’t just a Kanohi of Power and a sword to battle your enemies. If that’s what you think being a Toa is, then go hand back that armor to whoever gave it to you.” Tiri straightened himself, his Ruru glowing with embarrassment, while Kopaka glowered with anger as well as pain in his eyes. “You are not a brother. That we live on the same island means nothing. Brothers are Toa that have been through the worst together.”“Forgive him, Toa,” a Po-Matoran chimed, sliding out of a booth. “He meant no harm, and he only wanted to talk to you. We’re tired--” “You think you’re tired?” the Toa of Ice interrupted. “I’ve been tired for millennia! You have a job here, a trade, a duty, where people need you. My duty was suddenly gone before I could perform it. Do you know what it’s like to wake up to a void?” “Watcher, Toa,” the bartender muttered, wary eyes monitoring the scene as he wiped a glass with a rag. “No,” Kopaka replied. “Don’t tell me to hold back. I--” “That is enough,” growled a voice. Raising his head, the angry Toa saw a purple Skakdi standing in the walkway between tables, an apron hanging over the arm pointed at him. Peck. Whether he was done his kitchen shift or heard the commotion and come to investigate, Kopaka did not know, but his appearance on the scene cut all conversation. All eyes were on the two. “That is enough,” he repeated. “Kopaka, you feel rejected, but you continuously isolate yourself. Those three have done nothing to you, so don’t let your anger out on them. If you can’t be sociable, then back to your brooding.” With a bitter expression towards the Skakdi, Kopaka nodded, turning back to his glass. No matter what he said, his mouth would make this situation worse. “As for you three,” the Toa of Ice heard Peck say, the only sound in the bar, “come with me.”***The three of us stood on the beach, watching Peck pace angrily through the sand. Behind him, waves broke on the sloped end of the beach, muffling his muttering as they crashed. Coming in long, slow periods, they sat on the ocean line like a wide staircase to the heavenly orange blasted sunset sky. My eyepiece scanned the expansive beach, seeing no clouds anywhere; where could this storm possibly be? “Kopaka frustrates me,” Peck confessed, looking at the Toa in his midst as if he were a reminder of the Nuva. “And so does Yetoxa. Is this what he told me to send you to find?” “Yes. And no,” I piped, fidgeting my thumbs. I recounted our trip to Cipituez, only omitting the fact that Solek was the light in the candlestick on the horizon; Yetoxa had claimed he was a secret, and I wasn’t willing to be the one to break it. Peck listened with a calm face, quietly taking in what I told him. “I’ve never known a Po-Matoran to be a storyteller,” he spoke once I finished, “but that was some story. I’m not sure if it’s all believable, but what is important is what you learned. To your convenience, I know about Solek, so the secret is still safe.” Turning to Tiribomba, he asked, “How long have you been a Toa?” “A week,” he mumbled, the embarrassment of the scene at the bar still fresh on his mind. The confidence that helped him approach the Toa Nuva of Ice a mere half hour ago was gone, and now he was no different than a Matoran who had just lost a beach Kohlii tournament. “Exactly,” Peck chuckled darkly. “I may not be a Toa, but I understand this stuff a little. Kopaka and Solek have been Toa for far longer than a week. They’re known for whom they are, and they don’t try to be like Tahu or anyone else. Give yourself time, be yourself, and eventually you’ll be known for that. “As for the storm, I believe you. I’ve never trusted the ocean, and Karzahni knows why I live here.” Looking over Nireta’s charts, Peck glanced at the skyline. “The storm is out there,” Nireta said with grim confidence. “I don’t know why it disappeared, but it is coming.” “It’ll hit,” the Skakdi agreed. “One day or another. Tomorrow, we will begin preparation at sunrise.” “But the Cavalry could be here by then!” I protested. “Someone will be on watch,” Peck assured me as he began to make his way up the dunes. In the southwest, as the sunlight was finally gone, the lighthouse lit up, Solek’s beam swooping into the distance.*** The light scanned over the ocean plain for the thousandth time that night, observing the dark, empty water. Within it, the mind of Solek pondered as he used the power of his Akaku to view the darkness. A storm was arriving on southern Del Vienvi, as he, Yetoxa, and the explorers from Utywa saw this morning. The sky tonight showed different, however, starlight reflecting in the still, black waters. The Toa of Light was perturbed, but not just because he was unable to find the clouds he knew were out there. They seemed to be avoiding him… …as if it knew someone was watching it. The very suggestion sent shivers through his essence. And it wanted those who awaited it to sweat a little longer. Or, maybe the village is lucky, and they have been given more time. He conflicted between these thoughts for a while, trying to deny the probability of the first, while his gut told him otherwise. The storms that had brought Tiribomba and his companions to the lighthouse heralded more, and enough time had passed that a stronger storm was ready to take over. But where was it? The Kanohi Akaku began to pick up on the waters around the lighthouse’s peninsula. All the body heat of the fish had been accounted for, but more kept arising on his readings. Massive expanses of water that shifted with the littoral currents were going berserk, energy coming from apparently no source flooding the coast. Solek tapped into every ability of the mask that he knew of, but to no avail. There was something occurring beyond his power. He had to contact Kopaka, who knew more about the Mask of Vision than he. Another warning had to be issued; he knew it wouldn’t put him in the Toa of Ice’s good books to wake him a second night, but it was a necessary act. Solek braced himself to project out to the Toa Nuva’s home, but his mind was struck by tendrils of thought; subjected to bizarre images and memories that weren’t his, the Toa of Light panicked, attempting to retreat from the stronger mind that surrounded him. A mental thrash caught him unawares, and Solek suddenly sat sprawled on the floor of his chamber, darkness surrounding him. He could hear the sounds of Yetoxa’s worrying footsteps racing up the staircase. “There’s something out there,” Solek fearfully whispered to himself.***Dreams floated through the brain, flashes of color and symbols hovering in the abyssal darkness of the mind. Sequences rolled out like films, entertaining the closed eye with scenes while the memory only recorded a few frames as shady photographs. Messages lay underneath the continuation, but they were undetectable by the wandering arbiter. All perception of time and reality were warped within the realms, following their own laws of physics under looming twin ovals of backdrop.While the flow of confusing dreams unfolded behind Tiribomba’s eyes, Kopaka stood above him, watching the Toa of Fire sleep in the early hours of the morning. Light was breaking outside the window; Tiri was the one who was so urgent in delivering Solek’s warning, yet he was the one wasting precious time. Raising his hand, Kopaka send out a wave of frost, trapping Tiribomba in a shell of ice. Only his head was left free, which jolted awake at the feeling of the cold.“Wh-what-t-t?” he chattered, wondering why the morning temperature had suddenly dropped. His eyes were wild with shock and confusion as he saw Kopaka in his home. His muscles strained to crack the ice, but the Toa of Ice kept shoring it up.“Use your power,” Kopaka quietly advised. “Melt it, without wetting your bed.” He watched as Tiri struggled, his face contorted and frustrated within the shell. The ice remained solid, and Kopaka hung his head, until he saw Tiri’s hands. Pools of water began to collect in his palms, until his hands were completely free, twin jets of flame evaporating the water. It was a slow start, but Tiri was heating his body, hollowing his shell until it was broken by a simple flex of the muscle. Kopaka, apathetic to the wakened Toa’s eyes, walked out the shadowy doorway. Sliding his feet out of bed, the novice followed his elder.Kopaka led him out to the beach, where twin blades were buried, crossing one another. Tiribomba was led out there, but not allowed to touch the swords, the Toa Nuva of Ice shaking his head at the first attempt to grab one. Instead he circled around the Toa of Fire, quietly observing what stuck out. While he did so, golden sunlight warmed the sand, the first few minutes of the day disappearing.“What are we doing out here?” Tiribomba finally asked.“Last night was not your fault,” the Toa of Ice admitted. “You see through the darkness with your Ruru, and I see precision with my Akaku, but I overlooked what a Toa is- someone who does their job.” He paused, remembering how whispers of the storm’s coming breezed through the neighborhoods last night. “You did your job, in warning everyone. The fault of last night’s scene was mine.” Tiribomba nodded, accepting the apology.“Why do you acknowledge what Toa used to be?” Kopaka asked him.“I feel inadequate,” Tiribomba explained. He blinked as he watched the sun, remembering the eeriness of the Steel Visionary’s antechamber in the brief darkness of his eyelids. “We live in a dead world, but there are things out there- if they rise, I need to know how to approach them.” “Your power is underdeveloped,” was Kopaka’s reply. Prying a sword from the sand, he circled the surprised apprentice. “Though we are different elements, I can show you how to control your power.” Their feet glided over the sand as they slyly stepped side to side, wary of who would make the first move. Twirling his blade, Tiri leapt forward for a lunge that Kopaka easily blocked. A barrage of blows hit the Toa of Ice, the swords dancing and sparking as they met. With a forceful shrug, Tiri was pushed away, and they circled again. “You can create fireballs and send out waves of heat in all directions. To control your power is to show precision, to use your power so you don’t waste your energy.”Kopaka struck this time, swooping upward toward the struggling Ruru. His opponent cut down to intercept the blow, and the steel twirled as Kopaka fluidly flicked his wrists. With one hand he slashed at Kopaka, who met with a dozen parries. The novice struck wildly from all angles, and still was met with the opposing blade omnipresent. The Toa of Fire fiercely attacked, making a step’s advance with every swipe, until he separated Kopaka’s hand and blade. Feeling a burning in his arms, Tiribomba made the vital mistake of lowering his sword; Kopaka’s tip was at his neck in a flash.“You fight like a fire,” Kopaka noted, seeing how Tiri held his arms. “Crackly and spontaneous. With as many moves as that, in a real fight you’ll burn out quickly.” Turning his back to Tiri, he walked away.He’s only distracting himself, Tiribomba thought, his eyes fixed solely on Kopaka as he charged. The white Toa spun to the sound of rushing footsteps, sidestepping instead of parrying the arching blade. Momentum carried the charging Toa mask-first into a dune. “Always mind your surroundings,” came Kopaka’s voice. Leaping to his feet again, Tiribomba’s body followed his eyes as he charged again.The blades in the sand were meant to serve as a landmark on the beach, but that was lost as the two ran away to continue their duel. Blades whistled through the air, each of the owners driving all of their strength behind each swing; each blow contacted with a resounding like clanging bells. Sparks flew from not just the protodermic sabers, but from the fighters as they watched each other’s moves, each feeling nympholepsy for the other to concede.Powers appeared in the frisk; whether it was Kopaka showing he was more experienced or laying a hint on his apprentice, Tiri countered with the same move, superheating his blade. Steel was glowing in their hands, their elements pouring out of the tools, and it seemed as if they would break. But they held, and it was a test to see whose sword would give out first. The younger Toa backed out after a moment of steam erupting from crossed blades, tossing a series of fireballs. The Akaku’s eyepiece tracked each burst, an opposing blast of ice canceling them out. The swords separated for a moment as flashes and fire and ice overcame the beach, but soon rejoined each other in the fury of the match.Kopaka had the upper edge, but Tiribomba was the one who dealt the final move. The Toa of Ice froze the ground they danced on, the surface going from easy-to-trip to easy-to-slip. He held his footing, but his adversary began to slip, as he had no skill of footing that Kopaka possessed. Sending fire through his feet, however, gave him the edge, as he melted the ice, sending fireballs at the sand. Glass formed as the sand met the flame, and Kopaka found himself slipping, unable to keep his footing. Tiri’s blade was quickly at his neck.“Enough!” Kopaka declared, dropping his sword. Tiri nodded, his bottom following his sword into the sand. Sweat dripped from their brows as they panted, exhausted from the long combat. “We have done enough for today,” the Toa of Ice reported. The sun was now above the ocean line, making its way toward the apogee of the sky. They had spent enough time out here, and he could see the village from the dunes, already awakening to prepare for the long day ahead. We might as well join them, he thought, offering Tiri his fist before walking to the road. He responded to the gesture, spending only a few moments more on the sand to ponder what had just happened before heading back home.***In the building clouds far out on the horizon, high above Utywa’s roofline, the Element Lord sat, excitement coursing through his essence. He could feel his power like he hadn’t in millennia, his strength in full for the first time following the strike on the Kingdom. He had never disappeared from the endless ocean, oh no; even in the uncountable years of aftermath, he was still there. In every storm that had hit Del Vienvi- every drop of rain, every wave that eroded the beaches- that had been him, testing the continent.His power was great, yet he could sense all of the lesser energies around him. The power to send him home was among them, emitting from somewhere deep in the countryside. Landlocked, protected by hundreds of miles of land, it was inaccessible to him. The lure of power was what had attracted him all these years to the continent. He could not tear this place apart like the last time, however there was a more precise strategy to get what he wanted, the Element Lord knew, constantly waiting for the insight to occur, the solution to fall in place. He had no idea who or what the power came from, no way to find what it was, but he would.He “watched” the coastal village scramble about, people darting through the streets as they built up their homes. There would be no shoring, no shelter, he resolved, refusing to be held back by petty villagers. Some could sense him out there. Their minds could tell he was not just a storm, but something more, and he basked in their fear. With his years of failure to penetrate the continent, he had learned their language, and understood the simplicities they lived by. They had not a clue of what was really coming their way.None were granted the privilege of watching the sunset- they’d had their time of calm and serenity, in the millions of dusks that had already passed. The light of the lighthouse met the wall of approaching clouds, darker than night, as the Element Lord prepared to advance. Bour had dubbed the storm “the Cavalry”, and it began to catch on in Utywa as the inhabitants could see the looming storm. The thunderheads were like the horses on the front line, angry at their commander holding the reins, eager to run forward on the waves and crash through the village. Soon, they would come charging, very soon.***Darkness settled above the village, the night visiting once again. This time, however, it came upon a town much changed from the night before. The mood had darkened, its problems no longer the doubts and fears of individual Toa. The first rays of sunlight could not define the property lines of the homes, grass fraying into the dirt avenues while garden beds and fences lined conjoining backyards. As those final rays sunk over the horizon, they could see the borders had changed, yellow lamplight coming from bolted shutters to cast shadows on sandbags that defined the lawns. On the back bay, slack was nonexistent on the ropes holding the boats to the dry docks that had been assembled that day. Porches were lawn chairs has been spread out were now empty, their contents drawn indoors. Only the occasional wind chime hung, its sounds heralding the approaching wind. People sat in their homes, anxious of what was to come.Many of us sat in the bar under the yellow lamplight, discontent to be ignorant to any news. Nearly every table was full, but barely any food came out of the kitchen- even some of the staff stood around the doorway, anticipating Peck’s report. He sat at a table nearby, conversing and writing with the two surveyors he’d walked the island with at sunset. Some ate while we waited for the verdict. Nireta, Cenolb and I centered on a table game, while Kopaka and Tiribomba threw darts together, something noted by those present the night before.“We’re short sandbags,” the Skakdi finally announced. I leaned back in my seat, listening as murmurs filled the barroom. “It’s quite a few,” he spoke over the building noise. “We had a long summer, and it was probably longer than we thought. But--”“How are we going to get more?” someone cried.“The next village has sandbags! We’ll borrow from them!”Suggestions flew around the bar, and Peck let them have their say. Kopaka, however, grew annoyed at the banter, and lowered the temperature around the bar until Peck had the floor once more. “We can’t borrow. If we take from others, then we lower their defenses. More or less, everyone is in the same boat.” He pointed to a map mounted on one of the walls. “We don’t have to borrow, either. The shore isn’t the only place where sand is found. Out in the country, there’s a sandbagging outpost. We’d need a messenger to go out there for a shipment that would restock us through next year.” His eyes swept over the crowd, observing our nervous faces. The Skakdi smile fell, though, once he felt the tension in the room. No one was willing to leave their home when the storm hit, nobody was confident enough to risk everything they had for the village. Not even Peck, we could see- he was just waiting for someone to volunteer, so he wouldn’t have to go. As still as stone, everyone waited for the next person to raise their hand.“I’ll go,” someone finally spoke. My eyes flew across the table to Nireta, who casually raised her hand “I’ve been out in the desert before. I know the way.” I stepped up, not needing her glance to volunteer myself to Peck. I was a Po-Matoran who once questioned why he had signed up for a sea expedition- now here was a land journey, and I was on board. Around the room, people began to relax- someone had risen up for them, and taken the unwanted responsibility. A mild atmosphere began to develop as everyone dispersed, leaving Peck and us to a table.“You should stay,” was the first thing Nireta said to Tiri when he offered to join. “You will be needed around here, when the storm hits,” she reasoned, seeing our confused masks in the glow of the lamp. After all that we had been through in the past days, we were a trio, and now she didn’t want him to come along? It made sense- he and Kopaka would be assistance to everyone, but was it worth him not coming along? Leaning back in his chair, away from the light, he teetered with his decision, but reluctantly agreed.“How are we going to get there?” I asked.“Just follow the rhode,” was her reply. She brought the map from the wall down, pointing to the far end of the island. A line cut inland, labeled “the Rhode”. It branched off to other portions of the country, a single line leading into the desert. The name held some curiosity, as if it were more than just a pathway out of the village; the lassitude that had overtaken me following the row home had vanished, and I was now intrigued by the foreignness of the spelling. Whatever the name meant, I would soon find out.We left at daybreak, but there was no sun that arrived upon our departure. As we walked over the bridge, grey wisps of clouds flew over the edges of land, while on the ocean an unending black thunderhead loomed. The clouds seemed to charge, pouring unending from well beyond the horizon. Darkness hung so heavily that the lighthouse still shined, day and night indiscriminate. Thunder rocked the morning air with an earsplitting crack that shook even the bridge. I glanced one last time at the village, before raindrops began to blur my vision. As we left, one thought was in my mind, and it scared me more than I would have thought it was capable.The Cavalry had arrived.Review
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#5 Offline Nick Silverpen

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Posted Sep 16 2012 - 07:54 AM

Chapter 4: Through the StormThe first thing I felt was the heat.We’d reached the top of another dune, feeling the hot breeze that accompanied it. Breaths came slowly, the thick air scorching our lungs, exhales merely slumping our bodies further. Not even the intensity of my kiln had been this hot; in the height of the summer, the punch of the crispy air that flowed out the entrance to the fires would have been a cool breeze in comparison to this. A sticky tunic of sweat spilled under my armor, a taunt of the temperature’s oppressiveness that sat on my shoulders. It was like a tormentor pushing down, insisting that sitting under a dune- just for a moment- would lighten the load.Winds that had for days pushed us back to the coast had died out, and we no longer struggled to stay rooted to our course; Nireta and I walked effortlessly through the air, but stumbled over the continual ripple of dunes. Now that we had made it through the storm, however, progress was being made; Nireta detailed it as she raised her sextant to the sky, making notations on the scroll she kept close at hand. The sandy whip that the desert bore in attempt to drive us away had left its scars, pockets and scratches in our Kanohi; blinking out the already thousands of grains from my sweaty face, I could not fathom how much sand lay around us.Beneath it all lay the rhode. It was somewhere out there, swept over by strong gusts that had shifted the sands; at every valley between the dunes, I glimpsed around, in hopes of rediscovering it. Nireta, nevertheless, was confident of our direction, and so we plowed instinctively through the rolling golden brown scene. In the blue overhead, the sun glowed as it noted our progress, practically racing us to the horizon. The glare from its mane streamed down, sharp shafts piercing our visors. Every time we reached another hilltop, we had to shield our eyes from the stabbing rays, the sun seeming to stop at nothing to outpace us.We had let the sun win, I joked to Nireta as we camped for the evening. Together we watched the sunset, now an orange orb crossing the purple and green finish line. Taking second in the race, the heat followed the sun’s departure, but neither was truly gone in the night desert. The flames of our campfire that were appreciated in the cool of twilight reminded us that it all simply came from another source. I was no longer the master of my element, I sighed as I watched the stars move across the sky. No longer could I tolerate the desert like I had used to. I had become a shore Matoran, comforted by the ocean breezes over the island. We needed to be able to adapt quickly in this desert, because it was essential that we pass through quickly, and so far we struggled to adjust. The race we Matoran were in was more serious than a dash against a sun- between us and the storm, the winner held the fate of Utywa in their hands.“…ah, there’s the rain. The Cavalry has finally arrived.” The ink of that page had long dried out, dating our departure from home. I passed the night leafing through old journal entries, wondering how much further Tiribomba or Kopaka could have gone with a Mask of Speed. Across the fire, the mapmaker sat between two scrolls, copying the map taken from the bar. Notations were made on the duplicate as she tried to find how muchof the rhode had been buried in the desert.And this was how our journey continued, following the break of the storm; listening to the migrating herds of Mahi and Kikinalo, wondering if we were still headed in the right direction. The scene changed sometimes, to long flat stretches of hardened sand, where meager brush cracked the surface. As we traveled, we looked for the outpost, but the desert never indicated that there had ever been anything out here but ourselves.Until we saw the statue.It was almost alien, out of place in the blasted landscape. Perhaps it had been dropped from the sky, from another world, but the figure of the Toa atop the pedestal made that theory sound foolish. The statue was something that belonged in a city, and not here, of all places. Rising askew from the dune that half buried it, its bold posture looked as though it were examining the layout of the land before it. We were drawn to the statue like pilgrims to a holy site, fascinated by a sign of civilization so far out in isolation.The stone it was carved from was old, chiseled many millennia ago. It was a relic of the Kingdom, lost to the ages only to be rediscovered out here. Exposed to the elements, years of the wind had weathered the statue incredibly smooth. Its armor was unlike the Toa of Utywa, yet there was something about it akin to its living brothers. The blank eyes of its mask could have been watching the desert, yet at the same time could’ve been observing the two travelers who marveled at it.My eyepiece scanned the pedestal for any text, but even finding none we could both guess who it was.“Matoro,” Nireta whispered the name of the Toa Mahri of Ice. A bow was given, in honor of our friend- His name had replaced “Spiriah” as a word for failure, but those who slung the insults had never known him as a Ko-Matoran. He had his done duty well, assisting Turaga Nuju for a millennia, never expecting reward for his services; in the wars against Makuta, he was at times braver than any villager on the island. As a Toa, perhaps he just wasn’t ready to meet his destiny- I gave him credit for what he had accomplished, knowing those who insulted him wouldn’t have gotten half as far as he did. Sometimes I thought Matoro’s failure was even a good thing- under Mata Nui’s reign we lived in a template that the Great Beings had set for us. Now, we were proud of the world we had built for ourselves; I still felt respect for him as I now bowed, staring into his long dead eyes.Following our tribute, my hands dug around the pedestal that Matoro stood on. The base couldn’t have just been dropped here; the rhode had to run below it, the statue possibly serving as a mile marker. On our knees Nireta and I cleaned the base, but could find nothing that indicated this was anything other than a random post. Perhaps its builder had left it out here to keep the Toa’s memory preserved, clean from graffiti saying “the Disgraced One” sat here. Letting the sand sink back into the cracks from which it was pulled, we continued.The statue was barely behind us when the dunes dropped to harder soil, scarce vegetation peeking from the ground. Hills had shielded the plain from us, but wispy roots could not hide the tower, slender and aloof on the horizon. Seemingly in disuse, it looked like another relic of the countryside. Dead ivy climbed the outside walls, dragging the building back to the ground from which it rose- the place appeared to no longer have a purpose, so why did it need to exist? Dark, wide windows suggested its abandonment, save for one- an old Kanohi peered at us from the second story, stoic as we made our approach. Once we were close enough, he nodded, leaving the window with a cane as he made his way downstairs to greet us.***Kopaka splashed through the rain filled streets as he ran through the now muddy paths of Utywa. Floods roared down the avenues, walls of whitewater barreling into the houses. Though light on his feet, he could not free himself from the water that rose above his knees- it was impossible to wade, let alone run, and the Toa Nuva was a madman for even trying. The Cavalry was charging full force on the island, nearly sweeping Kopaka away with the oncoming floods. While lightning flashed dangerously close, sending shocks up his spine, thunder crashed overhead with enough ferocity to bash his body. The satchel across his shoulders was soaked, the candles inside rendered useless; the Toa of Ice only journeyed on to evacuate those at the end of the boulevard, and relay any news he could.From a nearby window poked a mask, beckoning for the Toa Nuva’s help. As the water pushed him away, demanding he conform to the march along the street, Kopaka summoned a ramp of ice that arched over the water, surfing on it toward the Matoran. The rain had different ideas, however, as it slicked the ice with each drop. Losing his footing, Kopaka tumbled into that which he wished to avoid; within seconds a rogue wave swept him away, leaving the Matoran once more helpless and hopeless.Though he was thrashed and tossed around underwater, Kopaka felt strangely still. On the surface, the waters could be seen running wild, while a steady current flowed underneath that, pulling him along. He needn’t call for his Mask of Water Breathing, for a bubble of air surrounded his head. Though curious about the phenomenon and knowing he needed to get back to the Matoran, he felt somewhat satisfied as he watched the world above, muted.I know your secrets.His first impression was of Solek, but there was unfamiliarity in the tone, the speaker foreign; nowhere in the water was the warmth of the light, only the cold of the floodwaters. The Toa of Light would be patrolling the coastline at a time like this, not casting thoughts into his friend’s head. Yet someone else had, as Kopaka felt a voice that immersed him, coming from everywhere he turned.I know your secrets, the voice repeated, its tone darker and more sinister this time. Tell them to me.“Who speaks?” Kopaka barked, attempting to freeze himself to the ground. His power went to waste, however, as a tendril of water yanked the ice into the flow of the flood.The waters around you- they are my essence, so there is no escape for you. We both come from what was once one world, yet I have not seen your kind before I returned to my domain. You are here protecting a secret, icy one, and you will reveal it to me.“Whatever you are, you are regrettably mistaken; this is Utywa- there are no secrets here,” Kopaka lied, his vexed mind spinning with questions. Few people knew that the Lighthouse’s beam came from anything but a bulb- This being came from his element like the Toa of Light did, and was infinitely telepathically stronger than him. If this being already knew about Solek, what plans did he have for him?Do not try to fool me, the voice sneered. I know the power that is harbored on these lands, the same power that you and your companions used to herald my arrival, yet far greater… It rests within your country’s heart, and not even your paltry attempts to shore this island will stop me from reaching it. “There is nothing out there for you,” Kopaka insisted. “Your search is fruitless. If you think this is all the power I possess, creature, then you have severely underestimated the power of a Toa Nuva.”And you see this storm around you, yet remain truly ignorant of the power of an Element Lord. Every wave, every drop of water you have ever seen here, has been me, bidding my time, building my power. My power is to yours as yours is to your villagers- there will be no defying me. Stand aside, and perhaps you will be spared as your country frays at its edges. Kopaka’s vision went white as the waters permeated his air bubble, and he struggled to call upon his Kaukau Nuva. Flailing through the uncontrollable waves like a fish, he was unable to discern the surface from the streets. Confused and worried as he looked for control in the madness, it would only be a matter of minutes before he was gone.Washing up on his back, he clung for dear life on a jetty. The storm whipped around him, akin to his dreams; to deny that the Element Lord of Water was anything other than Kopaka’s imagination would’ve been too sweet of a sell out. But there was a peculiarity of how this gale orchestrated itself, a style that convinced Kopaka that there was a puppet master behind it all. Wet and chattering, he pulled himself off, his vision quickly waning. If he were slipping into the oblivion, why would the flicker of the orange be in the corner of his eye?Marching on the beach through the pelting rain, Kopaka found Tiribomba ahead, whips of fire twirling around his body. The Toa of Fire remitted the jets of flame into the sand that whipped around him, turning it into a glass wall. Behind him, the waves crashed dangerously close for the Toa of Ice’s liking; with their landing so loud, he would’ve thought that his approach gone unnoticed. Tiri, however, whirled to see him, and pointed at the wall. “It needs to be built more! Reinforce it with your ice!” were the words that weren’t lost in the tempest. “To give the village more time!”“No! Stop!” the elder Toa demanded, slashing through the air with his hand. “We need to run from here! Get off the beach! We need to--” Kopaka’s words died in his throat, as alongside the island, a wave bigger than any other began to rise from the choppy seas.The Commander of the Cavalry had arrived on the front line.Rising up to touch the rainclouds, it truly made the sky and the sea undistinguishable. The Toa locked hands, knowing that doom was upon them. Not even the strength of a Pakari could’ve kept their grip together, as the Element Lord surged forward on the shoreline. They were blown away like the grains they stood on, scattered in the whirlpool that Utywa had become. Neither of them could fight the waters, so close to death in the dangerous clutches of the Element Lord they were.The tide receded from the beaches, gulleys overflowing where the sand only moments before had piled. A Kanohi popped from one of them, sputtering as he glanced up at the sky, black clouds speeding inland, more ominous than ever before. Dragging himself up to a staggered stance, he glared angrily at the hurricane that still pounded the coastline.Defy me and there will be consequences, the thunder growled. Your companion will suffer as a reminder of that. “What have you done with him?” Kopaka demanded, fuming in the silent downpour. Whether that was a hand or a whitecap out in the waves, he could not go blindly charging int there- Utywa would be short two Toa. Travel by water was no longer an option, but the backroads were hopefully still there, Kopaka hoped as he began a trek toward the lighthouse. The village was no longer safe; he only prayed that the two Matoran headed inland, if not any, had luck on their side.***The sand made a mockery of the Turaga as he walked toward us- though the ground was steady, each step he took was more uncertain than the last, as he stumbled over weeds that weren’t there. The cane he carried did no justice, struggling with its sole task. Seeing his knees wobble, on the verge of collapse, we rushed to catch him.“What you seek you shall not find,” he rasped, shrugging off the canteen of water Nireta was pressing on him. “and what you find you shall not seek.” We could see the madness in his eyes from his time out here, as he rattled incomprehensively. “It needs to stay hidden,” came his weak whisper. “By the force of the rusted spade, keep it hidden...” his frail voice cracked, and his heartlight went dark, the thousand natural shocks that kept his body alive finally ceasing. Nireta backed off in horror, leaving my eyepiece unable to look away from the dead Turaga in my arms.“We can’t leave him here,” I told Nireta as we laid him in the shade of the tower, shielding him from the sun’s view with a sheet. As we had crossed the barren, it never yielded to try and smother us; with the Turaga it had succeeded, and yet was phlegmatic in the sky, taking no joy in the victory- its mission, as long as we Matoran walked on, and even long after, was far from over.From the Journal of Bour:...as quickly as the storm had formed when we were at the lighthouse, I feel as if too much time has passed for it not to hit Utywa already. Are we out here running a fool’s errand? I fear the worst for home, but I keep going forward so this won’t happen again. Home. It’s just somewhere in the back of my mind at the moment, more a part of my imagination than a memory. It feels like we’ve been going on for eternity; everywhere we arrive is just an outpost in the heart of the desert, the borders a lifetime away. We travelled the country, looking for this outpost; the Turaga that we buried last night, he now travels another country, one whose bourn no traveller returns. We did not discover his name, but we did find a map, that puzzles even Nireta. A carving of the country surrounded the topmost window, centered around the bustling machines and fortress on the ridge in the distance. Lines all stemmed from the borders, leading to what lay ahead, all connected to a carving below the windowsill- a Kanohi mask, one with the horns of a Kikinalo bull. It could just be a symbol, but so far since we’ve come here I’ve seen none of the likes of this mask. There is something here that Turaga knew about, something bigger than just a digging station going on. His words still puzzle me, and I can’t help but wonder if the two are connected- what did he want buried, and why?Review
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