Legend Continues: Makuta's Bargain Down dark halls and twisted steps, they take me to the one called Kulta. As we journey, I see crevices and catacombs covered in webs that dangle in the stale air. Spiders made of skull and bone crawl around the walls. The creatures that escort me wear armour that is frail and patchy, their bones exposed to the harshest of elements. Their walk is limp and their backs are hunched, they have earned the name we gave them: Skull Raiders. They are old and wretched, but I do not shudder, I show no fear. My breath is calm, my step is steady. My arms are folded behind my back, not in chains or captivity, but in confidence; I am above these infernal creatures, I am more than these broken shells. Besides, they couldn’t chain me even if they wanted to. Everything is under my control. My escorts bring me into a large cavern carved into the rock. It is aglow with the orange of flame, mixed with the black of darkness. They lead me down a path lit by candle posts. All around hang hundreds upon thousands of skull raiders, cheering and screeching as they raise both club and sword. Their screams pierce my ears, but I do not waiver. I will have what I desire. At the centre of the room, he sits on his throne made of bone and claw. Kulta, the Death Bringer. His armour burning orange and metallic grey. From his head grow two large horns made of bone. In his left hand he holds his axe, while with his right he supports his slouching body by the knee, his head held low. “You think you can step into my domain and pass judgement?!” his voice bellows with rage throughout the throne room. Two of his warriors force me to my knees as he raises his head to meet my gaze. “Warriors!” He lifts himself off of his throne, hands held high to address the crowd. “Brothers! Here before us stands he who banished us from the mainland of Okoto!” The raiders begin to boo and spit as they flail their weapons in disgust. Kulta continues: “While we sought the masks of power as our birth right, both he and his brother rebuked us and forced us into these very mountains, cursing us with these wretched forms, never to die but to always age! And we will never forget the name of he who cursed us! Of he who denied us our birth right, the Great Masks of Power! Forever we will never forget his name, Makuta, Mask Hoarder and killer of our clan mates!” “MURDERER!” The crowds cry out. “Butcher! Death to the Mask Hoarder!” Kulta lowers his axe in the direction of my head, his teeth grinning through the gaps in his mask. “Kill him!” He commands. The raiders obey swiftly, swinging blade and axe towards my head. But I do not flinch. Concentrating, I activate my mask, calling all but Kulta to fall under my control. The raiders halt their attack, dropping their weapons stunned. Kulta stares at his men with perplexity. “I said KILL HIM!” He yells. His men give no reply. “You dare disobey?!” “Your men shall no longer serve you, oh Kulta the Great,” I mock. “Soon, you all shall call me master.” “You DARE?!” He rushes me with his tall axe in one hand curled over his left shoulder, a loud roar in his voice. His movement is quick. As he swings his axe on a horizontal slice, I swiftly duck so his blade moves over my head. I must keep his forces dazed while also evading his attacks. “I have felled even the mightiest of champions!” Kulta readies himself for an overhead slice. I quickly jump aside, narrowly missing his axe which hits the ground with a heavy clang. “I do not hunger, I know not of age!” He reaches with his free hand to grab me. I evade, but he is too swift to counter. He grabs me by the back and lifts me high off the ground. “I will show you the might of my power!” He slams my body into the ground several times before stepping over my back, laughing as if he has achieved victory. Oh, how little he truly knows. In truth, I found the experience just as entertaining. As he cackles, I begin to join in. Surely enough, my laughter out-grows his, and he is once again perplexed. “You laugh in the face of your own defeat?” He queries, head tilted. “You think you have power,” I laugh. “You think you are mighty?” The shadows begin to move. The light from the torches began to flicker and fade. The air begins to rumble and the earth shake. I laugh all the more methodically as I sink myself into the shadows. I release the skull raiders from my control. I want them all to see. I want them all to understand. As the raiders gain conscience, many begin to panic and flee. But they won’t make it far. At my command, the shadows bring them back to the throne room. I toy with some, letting them get a small glimpse of escape before dragging them back into the dark. Kulta simply stands there in the throne room; still, watching. Suddenly, with a large shadow hand, I grab his body, lifting him into the air. I do the same with his raiders, hanging them upside down in shadowy cocoons. I emerge above Kulta from the darkness, a path of burning blackness sustaining me above the ground. I look down into his old, red eyes. It pleases me to see him like this; bewildered and afraid. I smile. “Well, Slayer of Champions, he-who-knows-not-hunger-nor-age,” I relish this moment. “What say you of my power?” I send my shadows inside him, through his eyes and mouth. I enter his mind and begin to toy with his thoughts as he cries in pain. “STO-*cough*-OP!” He screams. “PLEASE STOP! I-ngh-beg of you! You are most powerful! YOU ARE MOST POWERFUL!” I recall my shadows from his mind. “Swear your allegiance to me,” I command. “SWEAR TO ME!” “I swear!” He cries. “Our allegiance is yours!” I smile as I walk back into the shadow. “I look forward to hearing from you soon,” I say before I disappear. As I go, I drop Kulta and his army to the ground. Through the shadows, I emerge behind The Great Forge in the City of Mask Makers, where my assistant waits to meet me. Her name is Roodaka, her armour his cast in black and Teal, while her eyes glow red. “My liege,” She says with a smile. “Did you meeting go as planned? Do the skull raiders bow?” “They do,” I reply with an equally pleased smile as we enter a hidden passage into the forge. “There’s one last thing I need. Did the materials arrive as scheduled?” “The shattered gold came just as you ordered, Makuta,” She replies. “Excellent. And what of my brother?” “Ekimu suspects nothing.” “Then we are on schedule,” I say as the door closes behind us.