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The Herald of Darkness


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

Thanks for reading!








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


But the Turaga knew better.


For today, he was expecting a package. A delivery, made in secret, the result of countless plans and projects. Today was the day he and the other Turaga had waited for. They’d deliberated, contemplated, mused upon, and at the end of it all, it came down to a small exchange, just outside the city. A simple passing of the baton, within the privacy of Le-Wahi’s ancient trees.


Yes, the Turaga thought as he lay in his bed, staring up at oak ceiling of his home. Today is a very special day, indeed.


For years, the Turaga had searched in secret, following leads and legends, desperately trying to untangle the threads of Mata Nui’s mysteries. And there’d been successes — hints and clues, pointing them in different directions, but nothing ever concrete. Nothing ever solid. That is… until a few weeks ago.


It was Whenua who had found it. Amongst the goods of a market vendor, in an unremarkable town outside of Onu-Koro. He’d known it… somehow. Picked it out amidst the other trinkets for sale. Paid a fair sum, thanked the vendor, and returned immediately to his chambers. There’d been much discussion about what to do next, but eventually the six had agreed Le-Koro was the best place to hide it. It was small, out of the way, and unexpected. And if the eyes of Makuta were everywhere… what mattered most was the unexpected.


And so the Turaga of Le-Koro arose from his bed and washed his Mahiki, preparing for the oncoming day. He grabbed his favorite walking staff, shaped like a decorative buzz saw, and stepped out of his hut. This sunshine warmed his face as he gazed upon his city, and he smiled. The buildings arose from the ground and from the trees, intertwining with the natural forest, yet pointedly standing out. From the high platform his home rested upon, he looked down on the town center, a bustling square of merchants, vendors, and otherwise happy and busy Matoran. He breathed a satisfied sigh, before turning to a nearby ladder, climbing down to the ground level, and joining his people.


A few called out to him, and he smiled and waved, recognizing many faces. But Le-Koro had grown much in recent years, and so there were always those he recognized but couldn’t place, and those still he didn’t recognize at all. Casually, he moved through the morning crowd to the edge of the square, where a wagon was attached to two Mahi, waiting for him. Using his staff for balance, he climbed into the driver’s seat, and took the reins.


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


“Well, hurry up then, we’ve a schedule to keep!” He held out his hand, giving the small Matoran a boost, and she happily bounced into the seat next to him.


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


Matau shook his head, humoring her as he flicked the Mahi’s reigns, and they started to move. They made their way through the city streets, weaving through the buildings and trees, eventually making their way into the city’s outskirts. And all the while Talim went on about how she was a princess, traveling through a magical land full of mystical and dangerous Rahi. Soon enough, the duo had left the city behind them, and they were alone, in the quiet woods of Le-Wahi.


The trees towered over them, ancient, silent, and wise.


The Turaga soon reached his destination, a small clearing in the woods, ringed with ferns and wildflowers. The road ran through it, silent and secluded, surrounded by the thick undergrowth. He motioned for the Mahi to stop. Quickly, Talim hopped out, and began to play in the long grass.


“Now don’t go too far, there’s dangerous Rahi out here!” he called after her, but she didn’t reply, choosing instead skip around, her attention pulled only to where her whims directed. Matau smiled as he lay back on the wagon, his gaze drifting to the sky, relaxing as he waited for his package to arrive.


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


Three Ko-Matoran met his gaze. Their cart approached him as he stood, stoic, in the tall grass on the side of the road. Their Mahi slowed to a stop, and the Ko-Matoran got out, silent as their boots hit the earth. Matau eyed them, picking out their roles — two armored guards, and the herald of his package: a tall Matoran with an off-white Akaku.


A plain, iron box rested in his hands.


“Kokani,” the Turaga bowed, calm as he addressed the newcomer, only a hint of surprise in his voice. “Nuju appointed you? Things have changed.”


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


“I send my thanks. And… yes.” Matau concluded. “Perhaps that would be a good idea.”


He took the box Kokani offered, pausing for a moment. And the Ko-Matoran reached out, carefully opening it, revealing… a stone.


A small jewel, black as night in the midday sun. It was the polar opposite of a lightstone — crystalline in shape, yet impossibly darker than its surroundings. And it was beautiful, in a way. A way that hinted of… something more. Something powerful, yet dangerous. The way  darkness can grant invisibility, while hiding demons within its depths.


Matau gazed at the small, black jewel, falling into its interior as he contemplated all that had happened for this moment to come. And the stone sat in silence — staring back at him.


The Turaga shook his head, and the moment ended. He took the stone, holding it close to his chest, eyes returning to Kokani.


“I suppose we should head back then.”


Kokani nodded, and the two climbed into Matau’s wagon as the other Ko-Matoran bade a silent farewell. They turned their cart around, heading back the way they came — north, to higher elevation and colder weather. Kokani looked into the passenger seat of Matau’s vehicle, surprised to find Talim, still curled up, fast asleep. He stared at the Turaga.


“You brought along a child?”


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


“Do you realize how dangerous this could be? What if Makuta knows we’re here?” he asked, nearly scolding the Turaga.


“Relax, Kokani.” Matau replied over his shoulder. “You shouldn’t worry so much. Everything will be fine.”


“Famous last words…”


“If you say so,” Matau climbed into the driver’s seat. “But I’ve spent a long time knocking on wood — and I’ve found the only thing that really matters is one’s attitude about it all.”


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


By the time they made it back to Le-Koro proper, it was a well past midday. Talim, now awake, hopped out of the cart, waved goodbye to the Turaga and her new-found friend, Kokani. Merrily, she skipped through Le-Koro’s busy square until she was out of sight. And Matau and Kokani moved to the tall tree on the corner, climbing to the platform of the Turaga’s house, and the Turaga brought out cold drinks for the two of them. Soon, they found themselves sitting upon Matau’s balcony, watching the people of Le-Koro go about their business below.


“It’s strange how it all worked out,” Kokani stated, and Matau raised his eyebrows, leading him to continue. “We’ve gone after every possible rumor, followed dangerous Rahi all around the island, searched the camps of Kryll, and lost so many Matoran along the way. And then, all of a sudden, Turaga Whenua finds it… in the hands of an everyday vendor. Just by chance.”


Matau sipped his drink and gazed at the sun, slowly creeping its way toward the horizon. “Life is strange, Kokani,” he finally replied.


The two sat there for the better part of the day, catching up on current events and everything they had missed in each other's lives since their previous encounter. The sun slowly descended to the treetops, and soon the two beings found themselves bathed in the pink-orange light of sunset. The bustle below started to slow, the shops beginning to close for the night.


After all, to the Matoran, it was another typical day. They didn’t know that an ancient and powerful artifact had entered their home, nor did they care why. Only Matau and Kokani spoke of danger, of Makuta, in any real sense, for everyone else only knew such things as legends and myths — stories, to tell around campfires on spooky nights. And there was no reason to believe anything otherwise.


The last of the shops closed their doors, the sun sank below the trees, and as night crept in, it seemed the day would end without incident.


But that soon proved not to be true.


“Turaga! Come quick!”


Matau was just standing up when he heard voice, the sound of soft feet approaching. Looking over the edge of his platform, he saw Talim — but this wasn’t her typical playful skipping. The little girl ran with purpose, and so he moved quickly, climbing down to meet her on ground level.


“What’s wrong Talim?”


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


“Is everything alright?”


“Um…” her big blue eyes looked up at his. “Yeah?”


Matau furrowed his brow, not knowing what that meant. Briefly, he met Kokani’s gaze as the Ko-Matoran looked down at them. “I’ll be back,” he let out, noticing the furrow on his brow. “And didn’t I tell you to relax earlier? Everything will be fine.”


He sensed Kokani’s disapproval, but didn’t let it stop him. Talim yanked at his wrist, impatiently groaning, and he rolled his eyes affectionately, giving in to her need to show him… whatever was drastically important.


Her grip unyielding, she half-dragged him through the winding city streets, this way and that, through the outskirts, until the last of the houses disappeared, and the pair found themselves surrounded by trees, and darkness.


“What is out here, Talim?” Matau frowned, feeling a sudden chill as night settled upon them. “At this hour?”


“Just hurry!”


Another dozen feet up the road, and then she turned off it, leading the Turaga through a bramble patch, and… a light appeared in front of them. Matau blinked, processing, but Talim urged him to move faster, pulling him through more underbrush until they found themselves in a small clearing.


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


And Matau's eyes widened.


There, in front of him, sat a young Matoran. He held Talim’s lightstone, the yellow light reflecting off his black Pakari, a confused look upon his face. He gazed up at the Turaga with big, bright green eyes, holding the stone nervously, too shy to speak or move. He seemed to be about Talim’s age.


“Oh my,” Matau let out, and he approached slowly, carefully, his boots soft upon the wildflowers. Of all the things Talim could have shown him — he hadn’t expected this. “…What is your name, little one?”


But the Matoran shied away from him.


“Come now — don’t be afraid,” he smiled, trying to show that he meant no harm. Cautiously, he reached out, offering his hand. “Are you alright? What’s your name?”


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


 “…You don’t know your name?”


The Matoran shook his head.


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


The nervous Matoran looked up at him, then at Talim. “I don’t know my name,” he said quietly as he dipped his head, almost ashamed of the fact.


Matau could only frown, contemplating the situation as he scratched his mask. The Le-Matoran was too young to be out in the forest, especially alone, this late in the evening. Perhaps he had run away from home? And in the process fell and hit his head, affecting his memory? He swallowed, letting his thoughts simmer — he certainly had to do… something.


“…Would you want to come home with us?” came Talim’s voice suddenly.


Matau blinked, looking from her, then back to the Matoran. That was their option — at least for now. The Matoran sat there, still clutching the lightstone as the night settled, ever thicker. “…Well?” Matau prompted, reiterating the girl’s words.


And slowly, the little Matoran nodded.


Matau let out a soft smile, quietly deciding that he could take care of the Matoran, at least until they could find his family. “But what shall we call you…?” he pondered out loud.


Talim tugged on his hand, begging for his attention once more, and Matau leaned down to hear what she had to say. With both hands around her mouth, she whispered into his ear.  He let out a small chuckle, then stood back up.


“Alright — that’s fitting enough for a boy with no memory,” he acknowledged, finding the humor in it. “It probably won’t stick, but for now — we shall call you Takua. In honor of the Toa of Light.”


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


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

Edited by ZOMBI3S
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Chapter 1 - The Spring Solstice


He had slept for so long. His dreams had been dark ones.


But now he was awakened, the scattered elements of his mind returning, slowly bringing him back to reality — quietly carrying him once more, to the calm, gentle embrace of his bed.


This happened every once and a while; his head imagining shadows while he slept, conjuring images of great clashes, long ago. But that was the case for everyone occasionally, and so Takua thought nothing of it as he lay with his face in his pillow, teetering on the edge of consciousness, eyes still shut as the pitter-patter of rain tapped upon the low roof above his head. He lay there for a while, unmoving — comfy, and content, to ignore the rest of the world.


But the world, it seemed, had other plans.




Takua groaned, eyes cracking open at the bird’s shrill call. There was a moment of silence, a brief few seconds of hesitation before a series of short, high pitched chirps made their way to his ears, suggesting an impending, noisy climax.


“No… too early…” Takua’s voice rattled, groggy as he turned his head to the side, staring at the small, single-panel window beside his bed. “Don’t do this….”




 “Why…!” he grumbled, dragging out the syllable as he reached over, smacking the glass pane with his palm. It opened with a creak, and he stuck his head outside, blinking the sleep from his eyes as drops of rain hit his face.


“Shut! Up! You stupid bird!”


The Kewa sitting atop his roof let out another squawk, startled by his voice, but it ruffled its feathers and flew away. Takua's head slumped back to his pillow, satisfied with himself. He grabbed the covers he had kicked back during the night, pulling them over his mask once more.


It was a quiet, rainy morning in the village of Le-Koro, and the small shack Takua lived in was just enough to keep the wind and water out of his face. Nestled underneath the root of large tree, it sat on the southern outskirts of town, close enough to still be walkable, yet far enough to allow a bit of privacy. Its low ceiling covered only one room, mostly filled with Takua’s bed, and a small sink. A series of shelves and bookcases lined the walls, housing a large collection of tiny trinkets, cheap baubles, and other items that many Matoran would consider to be, quite simply, junk.


It wasn’t much, but to Takua, a young Le-Matoran just getting used to living on his own, it was everything he wanted in a home.


The clock on his nightstand read nine in the morning, but if one were to ask any passerby on the streets of Le-Koro, they could easily learn that — despite his upbringing in the house of Turaga Matau — Takua was known for being the town’s slacker. And that he had a tendency to sleep very, very late.


Knock knock knock!


The rapping at his door was loud and sudden, and the almost-back-asleep Takua jolted upward, knocking his mask on the low shelf above his bed.


“Aw, Mata Nui!" he cursed. But still, the knocking persisted. “Okay, okay… I’m up,” he swiveled his legs off the mattress, sitting for a few dazed, bleary seconds before forcing himself to his feet. He rubbed his forehead, focusing his eyes. “Who’s there?”


“It’s Jaka,” came the voice from behind his door. “Will you let me in? It's wet out here.”


Still holding the top his head, Takua grabbed the doorknob and pulled, revealing his friend in soaking wet armor. Takua stared at him, lime-green eyes blinking, not understanding what was happening yet. It was a moment before he spoke.


“Why… so early?”


“Did you forget? Today’s the day!” Jaka stepped inside, as if that explained everything. He grabbed the towel Takua kept hanging on the back of his door, patting his Kakama dry before looking back to his friend. He was met with a blank, groggy stare, and so Jaka went on. “The Spring Solstice?”


“Uh… yeah. That’s today, what about it?”


Jaka looked at him, his brow furrowing. “... All you can eat for five Widgets? Down at the Twisted Nail?”


“Ah! Mata Nui!” Takua jumped up, coming alive at the thought of breakfast. He washed his Pakari in the grimy sink, making himself almost presentable. “Is Talim working?” he asked.


“I don’t know, probably?” Jaka tapped his foot impatiently. “Does it matter? Hurry up or we're going to miss it!”


“Yeah, yeah.”


Takua rummaged through his nightstand, grabbing a handful of Widgets before following Jaka out, shutting the door behind them. And the two began to make their way to the town square.


The two friends both lived in southern Le-Koro, the older, more-affordable district of town. Sitting on the southwestern edge of Lake Kanae, it was known for its traditionalism, where many still chose to honor the old way of living. The pair moved along its dirt roads, weaving their way through the great trees, passing huts and homes built both within and upon their great, ancient branches. To an outsider, southern Le-Koro might seem rural, or even primitive, but Takua and Jaka knew where to find the bridges, vines, and platforms that their friends and neighbors lived upon. With the right eye, it was easy to see that the City of Air was anything but rural.


Their path took them to the edge of the lake, and across a wide, wooden bridge that spanned the river escaping it. Their boots clomped on the wet wood before hitting dirt on the other side, and they had entered Le-Koro proper, the richest and most influential of the city’s districts. The streets here were obvious. Straight, well-paved, and defined on both sides by closely huddled buildings, it took them only a few minutes to arrive, moving briskly down a hill as the village’s center came into view.


Takua mumbled at the amount of Matoran present. “It’s busy. Already.”


Jaka grunted, and Takua knew he’d refrained from commenting on his sleeping habits.


Everything that happened in Le-Koro happened here, in this cobblestone square, surrounded by tall buildings and even taller trees. Platforms and bridges were scattered throughout the thick branches, lending a level of verticality to the space — the most notable among them being Turaga Matau’s house, nestled a few stories up in the far corner. But the vast majority of business took place on the ground, where the marketplace and various official buildings sat, all surrounding an open space with a small fountain at its center, shaped like a Suva.


Takua glanced at the fountain as they approached — he’d heard a rumor about it, once, when he was little. An urban legend, saying the fountain was actually Le-Suva, the mythical shrine that, ages ago, held the great Toa Lewa’s Kanohi masks. The dome-shaped stone gave the Toa of Air access to all kinds of powers, helping him and the other Toa to fight Rahi, Bohrok, and Rahkshi, defeating Makuta and awakening Mata Nui after a long, magnificent, and glorious battle. But Takua shook his head, pulling himself back to the world at hand. It was only an urban legend, after all.


It was here, as they passed the open space beyond the fountain, that the Twisted Nail sat — a run-down, but well-known and well-loved tavern on the corner opposite the Turaga’s home. Its paint was peeling, and its door creaked as they entered, but instantly the quiet, wet, rainy morning was replaced with warm firelight and friendly chatter — the result of many starting their holiday with a hearty breakfast, and a heartier drink. 


It took Takua a second to scan the crowded room, his mask lighting up as he found a young girl about his age, carrying a large tray of food upon her arm.


“Hey, Talim!” he called out, waving to catch her attention.


She looked up confused, but a smile spread across her mask as she recognized him. “Takua!” she chimed as she set down her tray at a table, placing dishes in front of hungry Matoran. Takua and Jaka approached just as she had finished, and she turned her attention to the two friends, wiping a thin layer of sweat from her brow. “Got up early this morning, did you?”


“Yeah… only because I was his wake-up call,” Jaka replied before Takua had the chance. He rolled his shoulders. “As always."


"Aw," Talim smiled, glancing from him to Takua, then back again.  "Where would he be without you, Jaka?" she replied, only half-joking.


"Still in bed, probably.”


“Hey,” Takua interjected, crossing his arms. “I would’ve made it one way or another. I’m… very passionate about affordable breakfast.”


“Yeah?” Talim laughed. She moved seamlessly to the next table, this time unloading drinks to another eager group of customers. “You know, Takua, a lot of things are more affordable if you have a job.”


Takua followed her from a distance, careful to keep the conversation going while giving her enough space to work. “Oh, you didn’t hear?” he replied, a smug look on his face. “I do have a job.”


Talim raised an eyebrow, intrigued, but skeptical. “Really?”


“Oh no…” Jaka put a hand on his mask. “Don’t tell me Raipu hired you again.”


And Takua looked back at his friend, his expression asking why he always had to be like this. “I’m a great employee.”


“That construction site? Again?” Talim snickered. “I’m sure you are, Takua… whenever you decide to show up at least,” she said with a smirk, pushing past him, heading for the tavern’s kitchen. “Well, go on, find a seat. I’ll be right there,” she called back, already grabbing more plates, already serving more, hungry Matoran.


Takua and Jaka moved to an empty booth in the far corner — one of the only open spots in the place — and sat down. With his back to the wall, Takua surveyed the busy room, plopping his elbows on the sturdy wooden table, before looking back to see Jaka, giving him a very unique, very quizzical look.




Jaka flicked his eyes back and forth between Takua and the space behind him, where Talim was busy working.


Takua shrugged, repeating himself. “Um… what?


Jaka rolled his eyes. “You,” he said, then nodded his head in Talim’s direction. “…And her.”


“Oh, come on!” Takua replied.


“She’s only mean to people she likes. Don’t deny it.”


“We’re just friends.”


Jaka snorted.


Talim soon came over to take their orders, and the two made the most of the all-you-can-eat special. There were meats, eggs, hearty soup, cold water and warm tea. Sausages, potatoes, roast vegetables and fruitcake. Freshly baked apple pie and bread with butter and jam. Tankards of the Twisted Nail’s specialty brew: sweet with fruit, yet heavy with hops. Anything and everything was sampled, the only exception being the house salad — both Takua and Jaka didn’t quite have the taste for greens.


Jaka licked his fingers, grinning to himself after his fourth course of toast. “I love jam.”


Ditching his mug of tea for a tankard of brew, Takua’s confidence soon got the better of him. After a bit of scheming, watching, and quick hands, Talim — ever observant as she was — soon took it upon herself to scold Takua for hiding plates under the table. But, with a wink and a smile, she kept the matter between them, and even managed to slip Takua a carry-out box when the other servers weren’t looking.


Takua scooped his pie into the box, smirking at Jaka, who was rolling his eyes again, embarrassed to be associated with him. But the moment Talim walked away, Jaka looked back to his friend, this time sporting his own smug grin.


“I’m telling you,” he leaned back in his bench, resting a hand on his full belly, nodding to Takua’s carton. “She wouldn’t do that for anyone.”


And It was Takua’s turn to roll his eyes. “Whatever you say, Jaka.”


Takua was, at least in appearance, an attractive Matoran, though not the tall, strong, and broad type one would expect. He was slim, of average height, and the mixed green and black of his armor suggested some Onu-Matoran descent — though no one really knew his roots. His jet-black Pakari fit him well, despite having it his whole life, and he carried himself with good posture and pride. He seemed to have a way of catching his peer’s attention, although their interest tended to fade as they recognized him, knowing that in the end, he was Takua — and not much good would come out of him.


Jaka, on the other hand, was not quite as much of a slacker, or a troublemaker, as Takua. He was empathetic, down to earth, and therefore had much less of an ego. He was slightly shorter, slightly heavier, and was a deeper, more forested green than Takua. Hints of amber suggested Ta-Matoran blood somewhere along the way, though it was unknown to him. He wore a Kakama and had kind, patient, forest green eyes — the sort that were always there for you, but didn’t inspire any kind of mystery. Unlike Takua, he didn’t ever seem to catch anyone’s attention — but that was often the way he liked it.


All in all — as Talim liked to point out whenever they were together — the two friends made an interesting pair.


After their hearty breakfast they sat around, chatting with other Matoran at the Twisted Nail, hanging out and happily wasting the morning away, until the door opened one last time before the five-Widget special ended. An older figure walked in, wearing a tunic and carrying a staff with an ancient, decorative saw on one end. Everyone knew him, for he was their Turaga — the kind, loving, and noble leader of Le-Koro, with a friendly face who had guided their village for generations: Turaga Matau.


As heads turned, slowly realizing who had arrived, the Turaga shuffled his way to a small stage at one end of the tavern. Smiling and waving along the way, he quickly stepped up to the platform, pausing for a moment as he took in his surroundings. And with one, two, three raps of his staff against the hard wood floor, he announced his presence, kindly requesting everyone’s attention.


Takua looked up as the tavern grew quiet, all eyes now pausing on the Turaga, hesitantly, eagerly, awaiting his words. But Takua was the odd one out, instead choosing to sink low in his chair.


The Turaga cleared his throat. “Citizens and friends of Le-Koro,” he announced, his voice old, scratchy, yet full of life. “I realize that I should have picked a more public spot if I wanted to talk to the entire population…” he paused, looking out to the back of the room, where even the cooks had paused their work. “…But then again, this always was my favorite restaurant.”


A short cheer erupted from the kitchen staff behind the bar.


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


Another round of cheers went around the room.


“Also! I wish to honor someone here today. I wish to recognize someone I know… someone special.”


“Oh no,” Takua whispered to himself, averting his gaze as the Turaga’s eyes drifted around the room, before finally finding him and locking on, even as Takua stared at the floor. He sank lower in the booth.


The Turaga went on. “Although he can be unorthodox at times, and some may even look down upon him, he is one that I hold dear.” He said affectionately before he paused, and all eyes followed his gaze, each Matoran looking around, until the entire tavern's attention fell on Takua, who was now trying his best to become liquid, and melt into his seat.


All was silent for a few, long, terrible seconds as Takua refused to take the hint. He sank lower and lower, flushing red behind his mask, his chin against his chest as he stared at the table in front of him, unblinking as he avoided everything.


Across the room, someone coughed. A metal fork clinked against a plate.


Matau sighed, finally breaking the silence. “Takua, will you please come up?”


And Takua squeezed his eyes shut, allowing himself a quick grimace as he got up from his chair.


“Takua, yeah!”


“Hey, there he is!”


Cheers erupted from a few people and Takua managed to crack an awkward smile. He made his way through the tables and stepped onto the stage as Matau put a light arm around his shoulders.


"You're so embarrassing," Takua whispered in the Turaga’s ear, faking a smile towards the crowd. “How’d you know I’d be here?”


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


Takua shot a glare across the room at Jaka, who was chortling into his drink.


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


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


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


“Uhh…” Takua blinked, staring out at the dozens of people, trying to force his brain to work. He gulped. “…Thanks.”


A chuckle spread across the crowd.


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


And Matau pulled from his pocket a black jewel, cut so it had six long sides, each ending in a sharp point on opposite ends. It was attached to a thin silver chain, which he unlatched as he held it out for Takua to see. Knotted vines were etched into the metal where the stone met the chain — a remarkable piece of craftsmanship, with intricate, ornate detail.


The Turaga spoke so the crowd could hear, but he turned to face Takua, showing that these words were meant for him. “The knots represent my blessing and love; the ties of unity, of family, be it though blood or simple circumstance. The chain represents strength; how you must use it and protect those you care about, as is your duty. And finally, the stone represents eternity; though one day we all must leave this world, our memory, our actions, and our destiny remain — written in our own little space among the stars.”


Takua looked up, reading the Turaga’s mask — the being who had raised him — and he realized that behind his smile, behind this joyous blessing, there was… something else. Matau’s eyes shone brighter in the torchlight, a mixture of pride and… maybe sadness. Something, that told Takua Matau had thought about this for a long time. And, now that Takua was aware of it, he... still didn’t know what to say.


“And so, I bless you, in the name of Mata Nui, and in the name of our great three virtues. I bless you, Takua, with Unity, Duty… and Destiny.”


Cheers erupted from all corners of the room, and Takua stood there, suddenly warm in his chest. Even though he could be a misfit, he was still loved by all the commoners of this dirty, grimy tavern called the Twisted Nail. People began to clap, bang on tables and clink their tankards together, all in the name of Takua.


He swallowed as he looked at Matau, honored, but still a bit confused. “Turaga… I don’t deserve this.”


“Go ahead, put it on,” Matau insisted, a big grin on his face as he held out the necklace.


The silver chain passed into Takua’s hands, and he let it slide through his fingers, feeling its smooth, cold texture, watching as it twinkled in the firelight. Then, cautiously, he placed the chain around his neck, and took the jewel in his hands. The cheers continued, and he couldn’t help but crack a smile. He gazed at the black stone, faintly gleaming in the firelight. Slowly, carefully — he brushed his finger against it.


And all sound was suddenly gone.


Everything faded from Takua’s head, and the earth, the air, the very world around him was still. Sharp. Focused, on the stone. That cold, black, eternal stone.


He heard a heartbeat, followed by a dying whisper.



He’s here….


Takua’s vision flickered, and there he was again, standing with Turaga Matau in the Twisted Nail. Everyone cheered for him, the world around him suddenly back to normal. That brief second of… whatever that had been — was gone.


What…? He thought for only a moment. But then Matau was moving again.


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


Takua wiped the puzzled look from his face. “Thank you… Turaga.”


And with the stone hanging from his neck, he stepped off the platform, making his way through the tables, and sat back down at his booth.

Edited by ZOMBI3S
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Chapter 2 - The Tale of Atouri


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


Takua smirked. “Yeah, whatever,” he replied cockily, trying to hide the fact that he didn’t really know what to do now. He contemplated for a second what had happened up on stage, but as he brushed his fingers against the stone again, nothing happened. And so he chalked it up his lingering headache, still resounding from when he’d knocked his head that morning.


But in a minute Talim appeared, carrying two massive tankards the Twisted Nail’s signature brew. With a thump she placed them in front of the two friends. “Enjoy, boys. It’s on the Turaga.”


“Hey,” Takua grabbed her hand as she started to turn away, surprising even himself with the sudden movement. His brain stumbled, realizing that yes, he was holding her hand, but he quickly recovered and looked her in the mask. “When do you get off?”


Talim didn’t seemed phased by the interaction. “At six, why?” 


Takua swallowed. “…You think you might want to do something later?”


She glanced at their hands for a moment, the corners of her mouth turning up before meeting his gaze, responding with a flattered smile. “…I’d love to.”


And she turned away, breaking contact as she went back to work. Takua briefly watched her walk before turning to the tankard in front of him, actively ignoring Jaka’s burrowing gaze.


His friend had the courtesy to wait until Talim was out of earshot before snorting. “Just friends?”


Takua took a long drag from his tankard. “Shut up.”


It wasn't unusual for the Twisted Nail to have musicians and storytellers come in, but today was the Spring Solstice, and never once was there a period of time when someone wasn't on stage. By the time Takua and Jaka had finished their drinks, an old Matoran was the center of attention, sitting on a stool and telling stories to a small crowd that had gathered around him. The Matoran wore lime armor that matched his Ruru, and if no one knew him personally, they certainly knew of him — he was a storyteller, supposedly the greatest in all of Le-Koro. But, he was known to be a loner, and an eccentric one at that. Whether a hermit or a traveler, he always seemed to appear wherever stories needed to be told, and then disappear once they were finished. No one even knew his real name, as he introduced himself merely by his occupation — as ‘The Storyteller.’


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


Jaka sensed his intentions. "Come on, Takua," Jaka urged him, eager to get out and do something with the rest of their holiday. 


But Takua waved him off. "This guy's supposed to be the best. Just one story," he insisted, and Jaka was forced to follow as Takua joined the crowd. They sat down next to a group of children, all eagerly waiting for the old one to begin. Takua felt a finger poke him in the arm, and he looked at the small boy who sat next to him.


“Are you too big for stories?” the boy asked.


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


The old Matoran cleared his throat as the crowd in front of him quieted. "Now… I shall tell you a story not very well-known among Matoran." His voice was old and deep, but it had power to it. It hinted at knowledge, of wisdom gained from countless years upon the earth. Of things forgotten by the rest of world. "It is… a sad story, but one that bears great importance among the ancient tales. A story of Mata Nui and Makuta, and the many events that occurred between them, all because of one small girl." 


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


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


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


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


Mata Nui confronted his brother about the issue.


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


The Storyteller bowed his head, finishing the story as the crowd applauded. Takua leaned back, pondering the tale. He always seemed to save the rare and interesting tales for holidays such as this, and so no one was remotely disappointed. The clapping went on and the Storyteller stood, bowing as he glanced at Takua, once again making eye contact.


Takua broke it immediately, looking to the ground as he clapped. People started to stand up and go about their business. And Jaka’s elbow nudged him.


"Can we go now?" his Kakama asked. 


"Yes, we can,” Takua replied, humoring him. That wasn't so bad, now was it?"




It was early afternoon now, and as Takua and Jaka headed for the door, it opened abruptly in front of them. In stepped Raipu, an acquaintance of theirs, or perhaps a distant friend. He was a Po-Matoran, whose tan Hau demanded authority, even though he was only a few years older than Takua. He spent the spring and summer in Le-Koro, bringing his talents from the City of Stone as a construction manager, traveling north to see Po-Koro in the fall and winter.


His mask seemed disappointed, but not at all surprised to see Takua. His broad shoulders squared with the Le-Matoran’s, quietly looking him up and down before speaking. “You were supposed to work today, Takua,” he said stoically.


Takua cocked his head. They were the same height, but Raipu’s distinctively Po-Matoran build was enough to make Takua feel he was always looking up at him. “Uh… but it’s the Spring Solstice,” he scratched the back of his head. “It’s a holiday.” 


“Yes… Raipu rubbed the edge of his mask, already tired, already smelling of sawdust and mortar. “We work half-days on holidays. You’d know this… if you showed up to the weekly meetings.”


“Oh,” Takua grimaced, looking to Jaka for some kind of help, but his friend offered nothing. “Um… I’ll be there tomorrow! Or, no. The day after tomorrow. Whenever I work next! I’ll be there early. I promise!”


Raipu shook his head, clearly not wanting to deal with this right now. “Okay, just… please be there? I can’t keep doing this, Takua.”


“Don’t worry, I will!” Takua said before glancing over at the clock on the wall. “But hey, look at the time! I’ve really got to go, good to see you, Raipu! Happy Solstice!” And he slipped through the door, narrowly avoiding Raipu’s shoulder, not to mention his responsibilities. Jaka took a second to realize what had happened, then awkwardly bade farewell and followed. 


The rain had stopped, and so the two spent the rest of the day walking around town, watching shows dedicated to the solstice, and taking advantage of discounted food or free samples of candied pineapple on a stick. Time flew by, as it always seemed to on holidays, and as the afternoon waned, people had started to gather in the town square for the annual parade and fireworks that would start later that evening.


Takua and Jaka chose a good place to sit and watch the festivities, deciding after a bit of deliberation on the overhanging roof of Boro’s Bakery, a small shop just a few buildings down from the Twisted Nail. It was comfortable enough, and they could see over everyone on the ground. So, assuming it didn’t collapse — and Boro remained out in the street, hawking his desserts — it was the perfect spot. Soon enough, the clocktower sounded from the corner of the square, ringing out six times with its deep, booming note, letting everyone know that the festivities would soon begin.


They’d just gotten comfortable when the bonging reached them, triggering Takua’s mind. 


Talim! She gets off at six!


And, heart racing, he handed his candied pineapple to Jaka, jumping down to the cobblestone below without explanation.


“Where are you going?” Jaka called out, startled, but not complaining about the extra snack. “You’re going to lose your spot if you’re not back when the fireworks start.”


“I almost forgot! I was supposed to meet Talim!” Takua called over his shoulder as he pushed his way through the growing crowd. “Sorry, I might be back, I might not!” He moved through the many Matoran, weaving his way out of the square.


“She isn’t meeting you here?” Jaka called after him.


But Takua couldn’t hear him anymore. He was well on his way to Talim’s house, which sat on the outskirts of town. He knew Talim wasn’t one for big crowds, and he knew the first place she always went after work — no matter what else was going on — was home.


In a moment Takua had disappeared among the many faces, and Jaka sighed to himself. “What am I going to do with him?” he said to his pineapple, before shrugging, and happily devouring it.

Edited by ZOMBI3S







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Chapter 3 - The Stars Above


Takua walked the dirt path in silence, brushing a hand against the golden, rippling stalks of grass. He’d been here many times, in the cliffs north of town, but there was something different about tonight. Something about the colors that streaked across the sky, the way the light glinted off the grey stones… Takua decided it was the holiday. It was the excitement of the town, the impending festivities that made him appreciate the beauty. He drew a deep breath, exhaling the cool evening air. Perhaps it didn’t matter — it was okay to simply enjoy the beauty.


Talim lived in the outskirts, halfway up the cliffs, overlooking Le-Koro’s square and the jungle surrounding it. Her wooden walls and thatched roof came into view as Takua rounded a rocky edifice, the humble dwelling partially dug into the steep hillside. Takua approached her signature maroon door, feeling confident, and maybe a little nervous. But mostly confident. Nervous and confident at the same time. Did that make sense? He shook his head, pushing his thoughts away, deciding it was better to just reach out and knock on the door.


Almost instantly, Talim opened it, revealing her dark green Huna, glinting slightly in the sunlight. “You’re late.”


“Well, yeah,” Takua played it cool. “I don’t know if you’ve heard, but there’s festivities going on in town. I thought about ignoring you and staying there, but… it was boring. So I figured I had nothing better to do.” 


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


Takua shrugged. “I had candied pineapple on a stick?”


“Good. I made Fikou stew.” 


She poured two bowls and they sat in her kitchen and ate. Takua — always with the insatiable appetite — slurped his bowl as they talked, telling her about all the ridiculous things he had gotten into in the past week, and she listened intently, laughing, judging, and taking half of them with a grain of salt, as she probably ought to. Their bowls were soon empty, but the conversation continued.


Talim was saving up for a calligraphy set, as she wanted to write one day. And Takua was saving up for… some reason. He didn’t know, but Talim was determined to help figure out what. They talked about the town, their lives, mutual friends and more about Takua’s antics. The evening wore on, and they continued enjoying each other’s company, oblivious to the outside world until the stars lit up the sky.


“…So yeah. Shu won that bet, and I learned that you should never try to wrestle a Takea shark.” Takua concluded his story. “But if we’re really thinking about it, I’m the real winner. Because… knowledge is more valuable than any number of Widgets.”


Talim snorted, almost spewing a mouthful of stew over the table. But she recovered, swallowing enough to let out an airy laugh at Takua’s expense.


“Well,” Takua crossed his arms, leaning back in his chair. “Good to know you it hilarious that I almost drowned.”


“You’re a moron,” she said, touching him on the arm as she regained her composure. “Why? Why would that ever be a good idea? For twenty Widgets?”


Takua frowned. “Twenty-five.”


“That doesn’t make it better!”


But the crack of distant fireworks sounded through the open window, and Takua jumped up, torn away from the table. “…Fireworks!” He let out, absent-mindedly grabbing Talim’s hand, forcing her up as he moved. “Come on, we can’t miss these!”


And in a second they were outside the maroon door, staring up to the starry sky. The night lit up with a huge flash of red, sparkling away just in time to allow another explosion of color — blue, and crackling with sound. The two stared in awe, the flashes imprinted upon their minds, in sharp contrast against the inky black of night. Flash after flash of yellow, green, then orange and purple exploded before them, one after the other as the show unfolded.


How long it lasted, neither could be sure. But unmoving within the swaying grass, they watched it all as the jungle lit up with color, the trees waving in the wind, wisps of smoke trailing above the treetops. Boom after boom they watched, wordless as the light crackled away. And then, after a while, there was a pause. A single moment of solitude as night crept back in, the jungle quieting, ever-so-slightly.


Suddenly there were many colors at once, exploding in a great finale of sparkling flames. Different types of fireworks went off, from huge spiders to crackling rockets, great flashes and singular bangs and booms. Each one was different in its own way, bright as the sun itself, if only for a second. Explosion after explosion went off before the couple, who witnessed it all from their secluded hillside, eyes glimmering in the dark. 


And then the finale ended, leaving the night just as quiet and peaceful as before. An onlooker wouldn’t even know what had happened, if it weren’t for the imprints of smoke, stamped against the sky. But Talim and Takua continued to look out over the jungle, still in awe of the colorful lights, still feeling the energy of the celebration. Eyes wide, hearts fluttering, it took time for them to come down, still holding the other’s hand as they came back to reality, as darkness returned, and both of them realized they were still present. 


“…What are you doing here, Takua?”


Her voice broke the silence, finally tearing Takua’s attention away from the sky. He turned to her, not entirely sure if he’d heard right. “Huh?” It was all he could manage. 


“You weren’t meant for a life here, I know that,” she looked down, refusing to let go of his hand. “You… you should be traveling the island, living your life. Having adventures,” she paused, swallowing as her eyes moved to the trailing wisps of smoke. Her voice was quiet... sad, maybe? “I know you’re bored here. I know you want something more out of life.”


“Well…” Takua trailed off. He had always known, deep down, that it was true. He wanted to go visit new places, meet new people, and explore the world on his own. But on the other hand, he had a home here. He’d never made any plans, let alone seriously thought about leaving. How could he, when Le-Koro had given him so much? “…I’m happy here. Why would I leave?” 


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


“My dreams are wherever you are, Talim,” he replied, the words slipping out of his mouth before he even realized what he was saying, and immediately, he bit his tongue. That was stupid. So corny. 


But Talim didn’t make fun of him. Instead, she smiled and looked down, a hint of blush showing under her mask. “…Okay,” she answered, almost in a whisper. She cleared her throat, and rolled her shoulders, looking back to him as she found her voice. “…You should come over more often. I had fun.”


“Anytime,” Takua said, still embarrassed from what he’d said. But, trying to make up for himself, he bent down, picking up a small orange flower from the grasses and handed it to her. “For you.” 


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


“Like garbage.”


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


“I’m just playing. It looks nice.”


“Of course it does. It’s me.”


And there was a pause in their conversation, just long enough for both of them to feel it. Talim stood in her open doorway, her eyes meeting Takua's, and the two were still, silent as the seconds ticked by, looking at each other.


“Well… good night,” Takua said quietly. 


“Good night, Takua.” Talim slowly shut the door, its hinges creaking until the doorknob clicked shut, leaving him alone in the night, on the other side of the maroon paint. 


Takua breathed a heavy sigh, staring at the grain of the wood, his eyes tracing the intricate carvings around its edge, and he blinked. He swallowed, turned, and started his way home.


His footsteps quiet in the dirt, he thought of her as he walked, unable to shake her from his mind. They’d been friends for as long as he could remember, and it seemed only recently that things had started to change. What was it? Never before had she been in his head like this; maybe it was just a part of getting older? Takua kicked a rock, confused about his feelings, deciding instead to reminisce about their first meeting.


His very first memory; they’d been children when she found him in that clearing, brought Matau over, and given him his name. Takua… after the great Toa of Light, she’d suggested. Takua smirked. As if he’d ever be anything like a Toa.


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


And now he lived in his very own shack. Takua shrugged as he entered a thicket of trees. Good times. 


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


Bum de dum, doo doo dee,

Everything, he does see.


The singing brought Takua back from his thoughts. He looked up to see an old Matoran walking along the path toward him, wearing dark yellow armor, muddied and scratched from days of travel. A knotted walking staff supported his gait, thumping against the dirt in tune with his steps. 


Over the great ocean blue,

Mata Nui watches you.


Takua passed the old one without a second thought, but the moment he did the strange Matoran turned heel, choosing to follow Takua by a little more than two steps, all while continuing to sing. Unnerved, Takua glanced over his shoulder and sped up his pace, trying to lose him. But the Matoran sped up as well, staying just a step behind as Takua powerwalked, faster and faster until he was practically running. And the old one, even with his shuffling gait and walking stick — kept up. 


Finally, Takua stopped in his tracks, turning around in annoyance. The Matoran to bumped into him, stumbling as Takua raised his chin and clenched his jaw. “Can I help you?” he asserted. 


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


“No, I don’t think you can,” Takua said, crossing his arms. “You see, I want to walk home in peace.”


“Wrong answer!” he belted, and the knotted end of his staff rapped Takua on the mask.


“Ow!” Takua yelped, jumping back as he clutched his forehead, taken aback by his audacity. “…Who even are you?”


“Who are you, windsprinter?” 


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


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


Takua paused, blinking, trying to make sense of this strange person before letting out a sigh. “…Okay.” If he wouldn’t go away, Takua might as well play the game. “…Where can I find help?” 


The old one whirled around, sliding his arm across Takua’s shoulders, motioning to the sky with his other hand. “Look to the stars!” He spread his palm out and moved it across the night sky, as if washing an invisible window.


Takua humored him, looking up through a break in the leaves, taking in the thousands of points of light. Painted in brushstrokes across the infinite sky, the Red Star shone out among them all, larger and brighter as it twinkled in the east. They were quiet for a minute or two, until Takua took another breath.


“So… what am I looking for?” 


“The stars!”


They stared for a few moments more, until Takua broke the silence again. “Yeah… am I supposed to see something besides stars? Because I don’t.” 


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


“Ow! Hey!” Takua snapped. “Would you stop that!?”


“Will you stop it!?”


Takua blinked. “Don’t copy me.” 






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


Takua rolled his eyes, having had quite enough of this. The Matoran was clearly insane, and he had a bed at home that called his name. “That’s… very nice. I hope you have a good night.”


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


“The stars will guide you.” 


Takua nodded, sparing a polite half-smile before turning to walk away. He felt the hand slip off his shoulder and he knew he wasn’t being followed. Chancing one last look, he saw the old one standing where he'd left him, staring up into the night sky. Takua smiled to himself, shaking his head. 


Get home safe, old one.


The Matoran’s song started up again, lending the night a quiet hum as Takua walked. Slowly, he made his way home, the tune fading until he could barely hear it. It shriveled to a soft whisper, and Takua’s ears strained to catch the last few lines before the night gave way to silence. 


Wake and taste the morning dew,

Feel his nectar, surging through.

Bum de dum da dee dee doo,

The wonders of life, he gives to you.

Edited by ZOMBI3S







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Chapter 4 - Approaching Shadows


Turaga Matau gazed up at the trees, towering above him, as he would a mere firefly. The sun shone through the leaves, streaming white and green as a breeze rustled the long grass beneath his feet. The Le-Ko trade route ran just beside him, cutting its way through a small hill, leaving a wall of dirt on one side that rose to meet the natural landscape. The Turaga took in the lane around him, watching, listening, patiently waiting as he rested against his staff. He was expecting company.


Soon enough, the laughing of children reached his ears. The little ones who lived here, out on the outskirts and farms, had a reputation of chasing trade wagons, travelers, and whatever moved along the route, pestering them with questions about who they were, where they came from, and what the rest of the world was like. The happy, insistent chatter drew closer, and soon enough a cart, pulled by two Mahi, appeared through the foliage. A handful of little Matoran ran alongside it, asking the driver about his adventures outside Le-Koro, as expected. It was a simple, joyful sight.


The cart drew nearer, and the driver looked up from under his grey hood, revealing an off-white Akaku. His eyes met Matau’s, and his greeting was simple.


“Hail, Turaga.”


Upon seeing Matau, the children gasped, running off in separate ways, seemingly afraid he might tell their parents about their bothering. But Matau only smiled, granting a slight bow to the traveler, whose cart slowed to a gentle halt next to him.


“Care for a ride, old friend?”


“Ah, if you’re offering…” Matau, pulled himself up and onto the bench next to the traveler. “My legs have grown weary as of late, much to my displeasure. I have some advice, Kokani; don’t ever get old.”


Kokani answered with a slight upturn of his mouth. “I’ll try my best.”


“Good, good… very well,” Matau replied as Kokani whipped the reins, and the Mahi moved to pull them closer to town. “I see you decided to spend more than half a year up north. What held you?”


Kokani let out a subtle grunt before answering. He furrowed his brow, taking a moment before he answered. His words were short. “…All is not well.”


Matau nodded his head in agreement, confirming the Ko-Matoran’s statement. “People have come to me, bringing stories from villages far out in the jungle. Ambushes, stampedes, swarms — Rahi attacks have grown more frequent. And I fear they will only grow fiercer.”


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


 “…Kryll? A threat?”


Kokani started at Matau, clearly trying to hide his disbelief. “Have you not heard the stories?”


Matau shook his head, rolling his staff between his fingers. “Every day it seems we are more and more isolated from the rest of the Koro. Trade caravans barely stop in anymore, and when they do, the traders are stone-faced, shady, and bring armored guards with them. What have they been up to?”


Kokani went on. “You know how they’ve always been — quiet and skittish, maybe fighting within their tribes, but always shying away from Matoran villages. But all along the northern shores… travelers come back to the Koro saying they’ve been attacked, robbed, and left for dead in the wild. I’ve even heard a village west of Ga-Koro was burnt to the ground.” Kokani paused, his eyes cold, and fixed on the road. “Apparently the tribes have unified. They rally behind one leader now, a so-called ‘King of the Kryll.’”


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


Kokani wrapped his cloak tighter and looked around them — only the leaves moved as a slight breeze pushed past, and everything grew quiet, as if the jungle itself wanted to hear what the Ko-Matoran was about to say. “…Nuju has locked himself in his study. From what he sees so far, things will get worse. Far worse.”




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


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


Kokani’s mask subtly nodded. “Some Matoran sense it, the Turaga’s spies have seen it. His symbol marks the charred trees of the Eastern Continent. He takes refuge there, and some say the Kryll of that land have pledged themselves to him. They have… a tower. Or a fortress. A massive, ancient structure, that they’ve taken over, and it now serves to built machines of war. Do you still have the stone?”


“I have given it to Takua.”


“…The boy?”


“I have not the strength for its burden… not anymore,” Matau took a deep breath, his chest nearly rattling as he exhaled, pain working its way into his brow. “Not after all this time.”


“Hmm,” Kokani let out, contemplating the Turaga’s decision before he truly responded. “Does he know? Does he… understand?”




“He will have to know, Matau.”


“I know. And he will. I’ve simply… not gotten to it yet,” the Turaga cleared his throat, nodding to himself. “It will be safe with him. Far safer in his hands, than… if I were to still carry it.”


“And you trust him?”


Matau closed his eyes for a moment, secure, yet visibly pained as he spoke the words. “With all my heart.”


“Good,” Kokani frowned. “For Makuta will want it back.”




Takua awoke to warmth upon his mask, the sunlight streaming through the grimy glass of his window. He blinked, groggily opening his eyes, slowly realizing it had to be at least noon. Groaning, he felt guilt rise in his chest, disappointed he’d already wasted half the day. And so, quickly, he sat up — and knocked his head on the low shelf above him.


“Mata Nui!”


He let out a stream of curses as he grabbed his forehead, rubbing his mask before getting out of bed, and starting his daily routine. A quick rinse of his Pakari in the sink and he took a moment to stare at himself in the mirror, before noticing a pair of envelopes, partly shoved through the slot in his door.


Mail? He furrowed his brow, suspicious yet intrigued. Rare was the day that he received mail.


Wasting no time, he grabbed the envelopes, sitting back down on his bed as he used his finger to break their seals.


He quickly recognized the Builder’s Union logo on the front of the first envelope, which made him frown. The Builder’s Union meant Raipu, which meant work. Which was always unpleasant. He sighed, opening it up and scanning the parchment, seeing something about his poor attendance requiring him to show once in the next three days in order save himself from termination. Takua rolled his eyes and threw it over his shoulder. It had a lot of business-y words that he didn’t find important, but he understood the message.


The second letter was from Jaka, which was strange, considering that Jaka lived so close he usually knocked on the door if he needed something. Unfolding the envelope-less paper, his annoyance from the first letter was replaced with confusion.


Takua —

Meet me at town square. You didn’t answer when I knocked; not sure if you’re asleep or out. Would’ve waited, but I didn’t have time. There’s something wrong. Hurry.



Takua took only a second to speculate before leaving.


He moved briskly toward inner Le-Koro, weaving his way through the trees, pushing past the wooden shops and homes that pocked the southern outskirts. They came in spurts — a handful of dwellings here, clustered around trunk of an elder tree, a network of buildings there, propped up in the branches and connected to the ground by ladders. The people of the outskirts prided themselves on traditionalism, living in and among the trees — the higher the better — while those of Le-Koro proper had long since found their place on the ground.


But still, everyone in the City of Air revered the trees, building and living among them, using the great trunks and branches as framework for their homes, only felling them when it was necessary to create a new patch of sunlight. These thoughts only briefly touched Takua’s mind as he moved, content to use the backwoods pathways he knew wouldn’t be crowded.


He’d just made it across the river and into Le-Koro proper when he turned into an alley, marked on one side by a short, rocky cliff, and by a series of compact, circular dwellings on the other. Many of Le-Koro’s merchants lived here, and with the market in full swing almost no one was home. The dark windows and lack of people allowed a silence to creep in, eerily settling behind every corner. And for a brief second, it caught Takua’s attention.


He was used to the call of birds, or at least the rustle of leaves — but today, it seemed all the sounds of nature had left. He turned a corner, his toe knocking against an unseen root, and before he realized it, he had landed with a thud on the hard-packed dirt, scraping his chin.


“Ow…” he grumbled, cursing his clumsiness. First his head, and now this? He pushed himself to his feet, brushing his armor off, taking a second to make sure no one had seen his misstep.


But someone stood in front of him.


Takua blinked, surprised at how quickly the figure had appeared. It was taller than a Matoran and wore black armor — almost like one from Onu-Wahi, but darker, if that was possible. A mask like a serpent's head rested upon the being’s face, one Takua had never seen before. And then, with an aggressive step forward, the being grabbed Takua by the arm and looked into his eyes.


“Can you feel his return?”


The deep voice reverberated in Takua’s head, chilling him to the bone. He fidgeted at the touch, but chose not to back away, instead meeting the being's orange gaze an alarmed confusion.




But the figure let go of him. There was a rustle of his black cloak, and just as quickly as he had come — he was gone.


Takua stood there, unmoving. He blinked again as he looked around, unsure of what had just happened. “...Hello?” he let out slowly, but no one answered, and so he tried again. “Hello!?” he called out, but the only reply was his echo, reverberating against the trees.


He took a moment, half-convinced he had made the whole thing up, before concluding he was alone. There was no one else in the hollow, dusty alley, and Takua shook his head, furrowing his brow as he moved once more.


“Takua, there’s something wrong with you,” he muttered, only a little unnerved.


So off he went, moving closer to the inner city, more and more people populating the buildings and streets. The quiet, simple buildings of the alley were replaced with great works of architecture,  intertwined and imbedded within the trees. The road Takua walked on bustled with traffic now, as carts pulled by Rahi and hocking salesmen made their rounds. The chatter of the market increased as Takua moved into the square. Looking around, he didn’t see anything that caught his eye, until he bumped into Jaka.


“Over here,” his friend beckoned, his normally happy tone peppered with worry.


“Jaka!” Takua answered, surprised by his student appearance. “What’s going on?”


“You’d… better come and see.”


Jaka led Takua through the square, to the far corner where a humble bookstore sat, built around the base of a great oak. His friend moved to the side of the building, revealing a ladder that took them a dozen or so feet off the ground, to a wooden platform built into the side of the great tree. Takua huffed, pulling himself up the last rung, a cluster of Matoran coming into view. They huddled around… something, and so Takua followed Jaka’s lead, squeezing their way through, revealing a disturbing scene.


It was a Matoran.


There, on the platform, shivering and shaking and muttering incoherently, lay someone who looked… vaguely familiar. Most of his bright green body armor was covered with mud, and his mask was withered, sunken, and grey. But even without the color, Takua thought he recognized the Ruru. He blinked, inhaling sharply as he noticed the bold, black words that were painted on the tree bark behind him.




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


“…What happened?” he asked.


“Nobody knows,” Jaka shook his head as he knelt, trying to get a look into the Matoran’s eyes. They stared blankly forward, twitching, focusing on nothing at all. “We might have been one of the last people to see him before… whatever made him like this.”


“Out of the way, out of the way!”


A voice sounded from the back of the crowd, and the mass of bodies opened up, revealing the small frame of Turaga Matau. He stepped through the murmuring mass, accompanied by three, well-decorated, professional-looking Matoran. Two of them Takua recognized — the first was Tui, Matau’s charming, caring, personal healer, and the second he knew as Oran, the stocky and powerful captain of the Gukko Force. Both had always been around when he was younger, growing up in Matau’s home. But the third was a Ko-Matoran he’d never met — tall and lean, his icy blue eyes locked onto Takua’s from behind an off-white Akaku. The stare would’ve been threatening, if Takua hadn’t known he was with the Turaga.


“What happened here?” the Turaga asked, a bit of fluster in his voice. But no one responded, and so he opened his arms, turning to address the crowd. “Does anyone know what happened here?” he repeated, but the crowd only murmured, looking at each other with confusion. Matau sighed, leaning against his staff as he rubbed his temple. “…Does anyone know who this Matoran is?” he said, pointing at the frail shape beneath him.


It was Jaka who finally spoke. He only stammered a little. “…He’s the Storyteller, Turaga.”


Matau snapped his head around to look at the fidgeting Matoran, pain quickly flooding his eyes as he now recognized him. “No…” he whispered to himself, but the moment only lasted a second, and then he was back, back to the strong, fearless leader he was known to be. He cleared his throat, addressing the crowd once more. “Does anyone have any information on this subject? Who found him?”


And slowly, cautiously, a hand raised from amidst the bodies. Takua squinted to see who it was, but after a few murmurs and jostles a small figure was pushed to the front of the crowd, and Takua recognized her. It no one he was particularly close to, but he knew she was one of Talim’s friends — a kind, thin Matoran who worked in the bookshop below their feet.


“What is your name, little one?” Matau asked.


“Alani,” she replied quietly, brown eyes flicking back and forth behind her teal Komau. Briefly, she made eye contact with Takua and Jaka. Jaka gave her an awkward, but supportive wave.


“Alani? Well, you’ve done well, Alani,” Matau replied. “Now, did you see — ”


“Turaga,” Tui spoke up, having finished her initial overview, and it was clear she was worried — worried enough to interrupt him, at least. But Matau allowed it, his gaze yielding, and the healer went on. “Physically, he’s fine. It’s just that his mask is losing color, and he won’t respond to anything. I’m… I’m afraid I don’t know what’s wrong with him.”


Matau cursed, pausing as he stared at the Storyteller. “What’s he mumbling about?”


The healer leaned close to the Matoran, listening intently. After a moment, she nervously made eye contact with Takua, then turned to the Turaga. Tui opened her mouth to speak, but then swallowed, choking on her words.


“Well?” Matau asked again, and something about the situation worried him more than anyone else. Takua could tell, it was apparent in his speech.


Tui glanced at Takua again. “He’s saying… ‘Takua.’ Over, and over again.”


Edited by ZOMBI3S







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Chapter 5 - Unanswered Questions


Takua blinked. “What?”


But Matau was a flurry of movement, and in a second he had grabbed Takua by the shoulders, intensely staring into his Pakari. “Listen to me Takua,” the Turaga narrowed his gaze. “I need you to tell the truth. Do you know anything — anything at all — about this?”


“What? No!” Takua blurted, his heart racing, suddenly afraid he was being framed for something. “I… I don’t know anything!”


“Are you sure?”


“Of course!”


Worry peppered Matau’s eyes, but he accepted Takua’s answer. “Okay,” he reassured with a slight pat. “I believe you,” and he let go, turning to his Ko-Matoran colleague. With a brief nod, he gave permission for the newcomer to take a closer look.


Takua watched as the off-white warrior knelt, wiping the mud from the victim’s mask, the crowd quieting as he spent half a minute inspecting. But then without warning, he stood, tapping Matau on the shoulder. Takua caught his words as they were whispered into the Turaga’s ear.


“I've seen this before.”


The two shared a brief, stern look, and without anything else Matau was moving again, waving his arms about the crowded circle. “Alright, everyone away!” he commanded, shooing the crowd off. “Don’t any of you have places to be? Go about your lives, get a drink or something! This is our business now, not yours.”


The crowd groaned, having hoped for some kind of story they could share with their friends. But Oran’s mass backed up Matau’s words, and they quickly conceded, one by one descending the ladder as the Turaga tapped his foot and wished for privacy. In a few minutes only Takua, Jaka, and Alani remained, standing awkwardly, unsure of what to do as Matau became a whirlwind once more.


“Oran! Bring him to my chambers, will you? And find your second — tell him that I want those new recruits trained. And Tui? Your apprentice, the good one — what was her name? Yes, meet me in my study this evening and bring her with you. And talk to that Alani, make sure she’s alright. Someone her age stumbling on a scene such as this….” He trailed away as Oran’s strong arms lifted the Storyteller, as Tui moved for the ladder, motioning for Alani to follow. He then swiveled to the Ko-Matoran, his voice hurried and hushed. “What is this Kokani; what do you know? Is this some kind of Madness — ”


“…Turaga?” Takua let out.


“ — We don’t know about? I have been having this feeling, you know. A feeling in my gut that we’re getting — ”


“Turaga!” Takua exclaimed, unable to keep quiet anymore. His voice cut through Matau’s conversation, and the leader of Le-Koro turned to look at him.


“Ah, my apologies, Takua, Jaka…” he trailed off, blinking as he readjusted, his mind running far beyond the present. “What… what are you two still doing here?”


Takua had to take a breath, calming himself before he spoke. He clenched his fists, respectfully, yet forcefully, asking for answers. “He’s saying my name, Turaga. Why… why is he saying my name?”


The one called Kokani stood his ground, his stoic Akaku keeping its secrets as Matau paused. But the Turaga’s aged mask let out a reassuring smile, and for whatever reason, Takua couldn’t help but notice the lines on his Mahiki. He stared, noticing for the first time in his life, the marks that time had made on the Turaga. The scars of a lifetime, longer than anyone truly knew. And a sudden, strange revelation came to Takua. One that told him Turaga Matau… he was getting very old.


“I don’t know what to tell you, Takua. I’m not quite sure what’s going on myself.” Matau rubbed his mask, steadying himself with his staff. “But I promise, if it’s something you should know about… I’ll find you.”


Takua looked at him, troubled, but not knowing what else to say. He nodded, trusting the Turaga’s words as he avoided Kokani’s gaze. “Okay,” he breathed, trying to push away his anxiety. “If you say so.”


Another nod. Another reassurance Takua wanted to believe. “Go about your day, Takua. I’ll handle this from here.”


And so it was time to leave. The two friends bowed, bidding the Turaga farewell, and within a minute Takua found himself back on street level, moving through the marketplace. He walked through the crowded square, passing vendors and livestock and carts and wagons, lost in thought as his feet took him where they may. The dusty bustle of inner Le-Koro was nothing compared to the turmoil of his mind, and it took Jaka three times to call his name before he perked up. 


“Hey!” A quick tap on his shoulder as Jaka caught up with him. “You okay?”


“I guess,” Takua shrugged. “I don’t know.”


“Where are you going?”


“I don’t know.”


Jaka frowned, keeping up with Takua’s absent amble as they moved through the streets. The crowd thinned as they approached Lake Kanae. “…Do you need to talk?”


“I need…” Takua kicked a rock to the side of the road. “I don’t know what I need.”


“Alright Brakas,” Jaka sighed. “Do you know anything at all?”


“Mata Nui,” Takua rolled his eyes. “I need to think.”


And Jaka knew what that meant, even if Takua didn’t say it. They set a path for the docks, crossing the wide bridge as they left Le-Koro proper, following the dusty road that snaked around Lake Kanae’s southern edge. Through the outskirts, past the farms and gardens of their neighbors, around a bend and into a secluded valley where the sounds of the city no longer reached them. Here, nestled in a small inlet stood the docks: a cluster of buildings that only saw traffic in the early morning, and their favorite place to go for peace and quiet.


Their boots clomped as they turned onto a long pier, passing canoes and dinghies and sailboats, all tied up and waiting for the next day’s dawn. The fishermen of Le-Koro had already put in their hours, and save for a handful of Matoran sorting supplies ashore, the two had the place to themselves. Reaching the end of the dock they sat down, staring out at the shining water. It was calm, and still.


Takua sighed, leaning back as he stared out, eyes drawn to the large rock rising from the water a few dozen feet out. Words were scrawled onto it, etched by some prankster or a bored artist or a maddened sailor years ago, but Takua read them all the same, as he always did when he sat here.


Suva Kaita, Kini-Nui

Turaga, Toa, Prophesy

Light and Dark both know their duty

Blood and fire, both shall be.

Unity upon the shore

Yet doubt lingers, evermore

To the tower beyond the sea

A choice of broken destiny.


No one knew what it meant, if anything, but Takua always found some comfort in the words. There was a simple joy in trying to make sense of the inscription, despite never having an answer. He liked to imagine it was a prophesy, inscribed by one of the wandering Chroniclers of old, its mystery only growing as the years ticked by. But that probably wasn’t the case.


“You okay?”


Jaka’s voice pierced his thoughts and Takua rubbed his temples, letting out a sigh. “Yeah. I just don’t know what to think.”


Jaka nodded. “It is kind of creepy.”


The two stared out at the water, watching as a pair of Kahu swooped over its surface.


Jaka started up again, a thought seemingly brimming in his head. “Do you know that Ko-Matoran Matau was with?” 


“No, why?”


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


Takua thought about it for a second. “And?”


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


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






“How did he find us?”


Matau’s eyes moved quickly, his fingers drumming with anxiety as Kokani leaned against the far wall, perfectly still. The curtains were drawn, shielding them from the outside world, and the low ceilings of Matau’s study loomed. The furniture, normally cozy and warm, now cast long, ominous shadows, spurred from the dim lightstones Matau had mounted on his walls. The air itself was thick and heavy, the same as Kokani’s slow reply.


“…I don’t know.”


“Who knew? You and I? The other Turaga? The commoners at the Twisted Nail? They wouldn’t have known what it meant but though,” Matau frowned. “It looks like any trinket off the street!”


“They knew it was important to you. The right person might have recognized it, put two and two together.” Kokani rolled his staff between his fingers, the long blade on its end glimmering. “You’ve had it for years. It’s not that far-fetched that someone might have been keeping tabs.”


“Every day since you brought it here, I’ve worn it around my neck. If someone knew about it before yesterday, why wait? Why strike only now? Le-Koro is no different today than it has been for years prior.”


“It is different though,” Kokani’s eyes flashed icy blue. “Because you gave it to the boy.”


There was silence as the air grew heavier, and Matau took a deep breath before leaning over his table, a finger pointing to Kokani. “Don’t start that,” he let out, already exasperated. “Don’t do this to me.”


“I’m just saying — ”


“You don’t know what it’s like!” Matau raised his voice just enough to overpower the Ko-Matoran, who fell silent and looked away. “After so long… so many years… I had no choice.”


Kokani spared a few seconds to collect his words, stringing them together before he dared to reply. He was quiet and cautious. “Nuju and Nokama are still in good health… it could have been them. It could have been me. It could have been anyone…” he trailed off as he looked back to the Turaga, not accusing him, but simply trying to understand. “But you chose the boy. Over everyone else.”


Matau only nodded. “You don’t know him like I do.”


“Then you’re sure? That it was the right thing to do? Not only for you, but for all of us?”


“More than anything.”


The silence seemed to echo as the room waited for Kokani’s response. But the warrior only met Matau’s gaze, seeing the resolve in his mask, the confidence he had in his decision. And if Kokani challenged it, Matau gave no ground. And so, the Ko-Matoran nodded.


“So be it,” he let out, suddenly moving from his post, walking about the room as he locked the door and began to check the windows. He changed subjects. “This has happened before, mostly up north where the Kryll are massing. Physically, the victim is fine, but their mind — their spirit, is severed from the body. Shattered, or maybe stolen away. The Storyteller will live, so long as he’s fed and taken care of. But it will be a life devoid of thought or emotion — similar to infection by way of the Madness. It’s the work of shadow powers, that much is certain.”


“Shadow powers? You don’t mean — ?”


“I do,” Kokani paused to grip his staff, feeling its comfortable weight. “It means he’s here.”


“Mata Nui…”


“I can fight him if I must, but we need a plan. If the boy doesn’t know about the stone, then we can use that to our advantage. He’s probably already being watched.”


“Is that why Takua’s name is muttered? Because he holds the stone?”


“That…” Kokani paused, looking over his shoulder as he shut a window and moved to the next room. “…I do not know.”


Matau frowned, following him through the doorway to as to keep their voices low. “I must speak with the other Turaga. This is something that can’t — ”


Kokani’s hand went up, open and stiff at the side of his mask. It was a gesture Matau knew him to use, one that froze all words and actions in the room. The Turaga bit his tongue, now on edge even more than he already was. Something had caught the Ko-Matoran’s attention, something out of the ordinary — something potentially dangerous. Matau waited as Kokani’s eyes locked onto a nearby window, and it took him only a second to realize what that meant: someone was spying on them.


Slowly, Kokani moved. His feet were silent, almost floating across the floor as he approached, the window looming ahead. Steel flashed as he released a dagger from its sheath, and all the while Matau kept quiet, clenching his fists with bated breath.


Then — a flurry of movement. Kokani shoved the window open and lurched halfway out, his dagger leading the way before he froze, the muscles in his back tensing, then relaxing. And he spoke.


“Well. Look what we have here.”


There was a yelp as he reached down, yanking someone into the view — and it was Takua.


“Come here, boy,” Kokani growled, pulling him through the small space, unceremoniously letting him tumble into the study. Takua thumped to the floor, groaning with guilt, wincing at Kokani’s words. “We have things to talk about.”


Matau looked down, shocked to see him before the disappointment made its way to his mask. “…Spying? On me, of all people?”


Takua looked down, grimacing as he scratched the back of his mask. He managed to pull an apology from his mouth. “…Sorry.”


“What did you hear?” Kokani demanded. “Speak. Or I’ll beat it out of you.” 


“Now now, there won’t be any need for violence, Kokani,” Matau interrupted, crossing his arms as he knelt to Takua’s level. His eyes met the young Matoran’s with patience.  “Tell us Takua… what did you hear?”






Takua bit his lip, eyes flicking from Matau to Kokani, and back again. “Yeah.”


Matau sighed. “…Kokani’s not going to beat you up, I promise.”


“Okay fine!” Takua let out, still unsure as he confessed. “I heard… something about the Madness? And shadow powers? I don’t know, I could only get every other word, and none of it made any sense to me anyway!” He trailed off, fidgeting under the pressure of their eyes. “I just… I just wanted to find out why he was saying my name.”


The Turaga looked back at Kokani, but the warrior was already staring at him, as if waiting to hear what he would say. There was a moment in which Takua's words lingered in the air, like a bubble waiting to pop, before Matau replied.


“What did I say earlier, Takua?”


Takua grumbled under his breath.




“You said you’d find me if it was something I should know about,” he repeated, obviously unsatisfied.


“And do you trust me?”


Takua exhaled. “…Yeah.”


And the Turaga offered his hand, pulling Takua to his feet before brushing him off and making him presentable again. “I can understand that you're worried, but I simply can't help you yet. There are…" Matau straightened the boy’s shoulder armor, his fingers catching the silver chain around his neck. Inadvertently, his gaze went to the black stone hanging from it, and he trailed off, remembering the words he’d said the day prior.


He’d said it represented eternity. The stone represented destiny. Matau looked back to Takua’s sharp lime eyes, allowing only a tinge of sadness to reach his mask before he patted him on the shoulder.


“…There are things Kokani and I need to discuss," he finished. Then, a second later, “in private.”


And Takua took that well enough. He nodded, agreed to respect their wishes, and promised he wouldn’t get into any more trouble. Matau shuffled him to the door, opening it and revealing Le-Koro’s square, now bathed in the pink-orange glow of the nearly-set sun. The bustling crowds were finally dwindling.


They bade goodbye and Matau watched him go through the pane of his window, furrowing his brow as Takua climbed down the ladder, making his way to the ground. Takua wasn’t a fool. He knew something was wrong, and Matau had done a poor job at hiding it from him. But there was nothing to say. Not yet, at least — though it pained to him to admit it.


Matau felt a great deal of things as Takua disappeared from view, swallowed by the trees and buildings and people. But as he had said only minutes ago; there was much to discuss, and so he suppressed his emotions and turned around, meeting Kokani’s steely blue gaze with fortitude.


“Well…” he clasped his hands together. “Where to begin?”

Edited by ZOMBI3S







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Chapter 6 - Visions


Everywhere around him was the stench of death. He moved, gliding through through the blackened, burning city, smoke arising from the earth as his feet met the soil. He stood in a square, the buildings vaguely familiar before he realized where he was — this was his home. It was Le-Koro.


Into the hollow shell of the Twisted nail, into the smoke and ash and toxic air. A figure was standing within, upright yet lifeless, mumbling as he approached. The flat, red light that dominated everything soon illuminated the Storyteller, whose pale Ruru masked empty eyes. His parched lips mumbled a name, over and over.


“Takua… Takua… Takua…”


“Wake up!” Takua shook him by the shoulders, daring to ask for answers. “Why are you saying that? Why do you say my name?”


“Oh no…” came a voice behind him, and he whirled around to see Alani, standing terrified in the doorway. “Oh no!”


“What happened?” Takua called out. “Did you see anything, Alani?”


But then she was gone, whisked away by Matau, Oran, and Tui — along with any answers she might have had. The smoke billowed, tearing at his lungs and eyes, but there was a whirl of air and shadow, and another figure now stood before him.


Takua blinked, surprised at how quickly it had appeared. Taller than a Matoran and wearing black armor, a mask like a serpent's head rested upon the being’s face. And then, with an aggressive step forward, the being grabbed Takua by the arm and looked into his eyes.


“Can you feel his return?”


The deep voice reverberated in Takua’s head, chilling him to the bone. But he chose not to back away, instead meeting the orange eyes with confidence, and determination.


“Who are you? What do you want from me?”


“Don’t you remember? It’s me — Saku.” 


And the alarm went off, blaringly loud in Takua’s ear.


“Aah!” he screamed as he jolted up, smacking his head on the notorious shelf. "Mata Nui!" he cried out, once again beginning his daily spout of curses.


He swung his legs over the side of the mattress and planted them on the floor, smacking the top of his alarm clock, and the horrible noise stopped. Sitting there, he gingerly caressed his forehead and wiped the sleep from his eyes. Why he had set that alarm?


Oh yes, he remembered. Work.


Upon arriving home the previous night, Takua had remembered Raipu had him on the schedule, and maybe that wasn’t so bad. It might take his mind off the Storyteller, and besides — he was in deep need of a paycheck.


It was a horrible thing to do, waking up before six in the morning, but with the nightmare still in the back of his mind, Takua decided that maybe it was for the best. Performing the ritual of washing his Pakari in the sink, Takua soon grabbed his necklace, the black stone thumping against his chest, and in less than ten minutes he was out the door.


Though the sun had yet to rise, Takua could already tell it was going to be a cool and cloudy. Making his way through southern Le-Koro, he saw the very beginnings of the day's business, something he rarely witnessed. All of Le-Koro's early birds were up and about, brewing tea, making breakfast, and opening their shops. They all seemed so happy to be up before the sun, ready to get ahead of the day.


It was a horrible sight.


Takes grumbled,  turning onto a rural street that was, much to his delight, still fully asleep. A single lightstone mounted on a nearby tree was the only source of light on the dusty corridor, and as he approached it he found another reason to gripe. Why should anyone be up while streetlights were still needed? That hardly seemed fair. Still a few dozen feet from the small yellow glow, he looked up —


There a figure. Standing underneath it, watching him.


Takua blinked. It was tall, dark, and its mask — like the head of a serpent. 


“…You!” Takua cried out, instantly recognizing it, the figure from yesterday, and his dream. “Hey!”


But there was no response. The being only stared at him, not saying a word. 


Taking matters into his own hands, Takua ran toward the light, but as he drew closer the shadowy being backed away, disappearing out of sight entirely. Takua slid to a halt next to the streetlight, peering into the darkness, scouring his surroundings.


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


Suddenly, there were hands on his shoulders. Strong, thin fingers gripped his armor from behind, their jarring touch freezing him with fear.


“Do you remember, Takua?” he heard the deep voice, quiet yet intimidating, inches from his ear. 


Slowly, Takua turned his head glimpse the being. The orange eyes bored into him, the angular mask menacing and powerful. “Who… who are you?” he stammered.


“It’s me — Saku.”  


Takua’s spine rippled, not daring to breathe, but then as quietly as he’d come, the figure once again retreated, fading impossibly fast into the night.


In an instant he was gone.


And Takua could only stand there, paralyzed, unsure of what to do. Did he run? Dare he? One thing was for sure, he didn’t want to leave the comfort of the streetlight. But he knew he couldn’t stay here. Mentally bracing himself, he willed up his strength, planted his feet, and tore off down the darkened road.


He sprinted, as fast as he could through the trees, through his forest he’d thought he knew. But now everything was different. The once-familiar trees towered ominously above, the dwellings of his neighbors dark and untrustworthy. There was someone out there, someone powerful and dangerous, stalking him around every corner. Fear flashed through his head. Was this being — this Saku — following him?


He ran until his lungs felt they would burst, but he willed his body to keep going. He kept up his mad dash, exhausting himself, until finally he broke out of the sleepy, spooky alleyways and into the lightstones of the construction site. Slowing his arms, his legs wobbling like jelly, he collapsed on the ground by a pile of planks and bricks. And he sat there, wheezing, catching his breath, until someone approached him.


“Takua… are you okay?”


Takua opened his eyes, seeing Raipu’s broad shoulders standing over him. The Po-Matoran offered his hand.


“…Yeah,” he said between breaths, relieved to see a familiar face. “I am now.”


Raipu was reasonably skeptical. “Um… is something going on?”


It was then that Takua realized how crazy it would sound. An armored stalker? One who could appear and disappear at will? He shook his head and gritted his teeth. “…Nope! Everything’s fine.”


“Come on, Takua. Don’t be weird about this.”


“I’m not being weird.”


“Yes…” Raipu folded his arms and tapped his foot. “Yes, you definitely are.”


Takua groaned and rolled his eyes, but spilled the story to Raipu anyway. It didn’t make any sense, and the Po-Matoran didn’t seem to believe it, but at the end of Takua’s tale he seemed a little amused, at least. A hint of a smirk arose on his Hau.


“I didn’t take you for one to get intimidated so easily.”


“I’m not,” Takua grunted, narrowing his eyes. “There was just something about him. Something about his mask that was… I don’t know. It was threatening.”


Raipu pondered it. “Like a serpent’s head, huh? I’ve never heard of a mask like that.”


“Yeah… me neither.”


Raipu turned away from him. “Sounds like you’ve been daydreaming too much,” he concluded, motioning now to the half-finished structure before them. “Now enough talk. You want to get paid or not?”


“I mean, I guess.”


Takua shook his head as he walked away. Was it just a dream? It certainly could have been. Dark shadows, mysterious appearances, things that don’t make sense — it was perfect dream material. Maybe he did just need a good day’s work.


The sun finally poked its head through the clouds, illuminating the worksite in a soft glow. Takua climbed the tower of scaffolding per Raipu’s instructions, dodging other workers and stepping over tools until he made it to the top level. There, he found a pail of mortar and started to add stones to the unfinished wall in front of him.


It was to be a temple, once it was finished, a temple devoted to the principle of faith. When he was little, Matau and his other teachers had engrained that school of thought well enough. Faith was at the heart of being a Le-Matoran. It was the wind beneath your feet, the trust you have in your allies, the idea that all will end well. It gave Unity, Duty, and Accuracy to one’s life, and as for Takua — well, he supposed it was important enough.


He worked in silence for a few minutes, numbing his thoughts with honest labor. Faith was… something he didn’t have to think about. It was just there. Well, now he was thinking about it of course, but that was besides the point.


“I haven’t seen you here before,” came a voice from behind him. “Are you new?”


“Huh?” Takua turned around. “Oh. Not really, I just… don’t like working.”


The Matoran laughed. “I understand. Usually I like this job; I get to listen to the calls of the Rahi out here. There’s a lot more wildlife to listen to in the outskirts.”


Takua listened. All he heard were a couple of Kewa, chirping away from somewhere nearby.


“I’m Brok, by the way.”


“Takua,” he responded politely.


“Although,” Brok went on. “It seems like I’ve been hearing less over the past few days. It’s almost… as if all the animals are leaving.”


Takua frowned, thinking nothing of it as he got back to work. “Another mystery. In a land that’s filled with them.”


“Yeah,” Brok turned to his side of the wall, but then seemingly decided it was impossible to work in silence. “When it’s not cloudy, I also like to watch the morning stars. Did you know that the stars can tell you the future? When the Red Star moves in the right place of a constellation, the event the constellation represents will happen.”


Takua humored him. “And you believe that, Brok?”


“I guess,” Brok shrugged. “It’s fun to believe in things!”


Takua smirked to himself. “I guess it is,” he replied, and then remembered the old Matoran, who had stopped him as as he’d returned Talim’s house.


The stars will guide you… he mulled the words over in his head. Maybe that’s what he had meant.




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


Thump thp! 


A sudden pain in his chest, and Takua’s ears cracked and rang, blotting out all other noise. He clutched his armor and cried out, the burning sensation spreading, pain radiating through his entire being. He tried to stand, only to find the whole world spinning around him. The blur he thought was Brok got up and tried to say something, but Takua couldn't hear. He couldn’t see! All he knew was the burning, singeing, electrifying pain. His vision flickered, his feet stepping back, stumbling! And somehow he knew he was falling. The agony grew, writhing through his limbs as he plummeted off the scaffolding and into open air.


He approaches.


The world reverberated, pulsating around him as the voice whispered in Takua's screaming ears. The pain was unbearable, and nothing would make it stop.


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


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


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


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


Your time of choosing rapidly approaches.


He had to...! He had to....


Your destiny, rapidly approaches.


Takua shut his eyes — and saw no more.

Edited by ZOMBI3S







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  • 2 weeks later...

Chapter 7 - Just In Case



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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


“Why not?” Takua spouted out.


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


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


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


“What is it?” Matau answered.


“You are needed. We have a situation.”


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


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


“Later, my friend.”




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


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


“Well, now what?” Jaka asked.


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


Turaga Matau paused. “I know.”






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


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


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


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


"I'll take it."


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


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


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


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




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


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


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


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




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


"Takua?" Talim asked.


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


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


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

Edited by ZOMBI3S







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Chapter 8 - Blood on the Leaves



"What did you see?"




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


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


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


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


“It’s not that easy.”


“Why not?”


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


“…you should! I think he’s cute.”


Talim smiled. “Have you been eyeing him?”


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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




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


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


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


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


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


“You know, it’s kind of funny.”


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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




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


“Hello, Takua.”

Edited by ZOMBI3S







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Chapter 9 - The Burning Tree



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


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


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


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


"Ow! What are you doing!?"


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


"Does it look like it!?"


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




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


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


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


"I know!"


"What are we going to do?!"


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


Takua looked up. “Others?”


“The guards I sent to protect you!”


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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

Edited by ZOMBI3S







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  • 1 month later...

Chapter 10 - Air and Shadow



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


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


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


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


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


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


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


Takua’s mind flickered. A Toa?


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


"Sorry it had to be this way."


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


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


And he tumbled off the edge of the platform.

Edited by ZOMBI3S







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  • 4 weeks later...

Chapter 11 - Tears



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


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


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


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


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




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


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


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


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


"How do you know my name!?"


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


"Matoran have no place to speak among gods.”


Jaka stood up. “Let him go!”


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


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


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


“...Talim,” she stuttered.


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


She hesitated, but eventually swallowed, and nodded.


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


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


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


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


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


“Is it pain? Death?”


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


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


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


“Do you fear the darkness, Takua?”


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




“No,” he replied.


And the Hau smiled. “Oh, so unwise.”


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


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


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


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


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




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


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


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


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


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


You reside with light, but you must be careful.


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


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


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


But don't be afraid.


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


The stars will guide you on your journey.


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


For you hold the greatest power of all.


His mind shut down, and finally, he rested.


You are the one who will bring back the balance.



~End of Part I~

Edited by ZOMBI3S







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  • 3 weeks later...



Chapter 1 - The Cold, Hard World



Takua opened his eyes.


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


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


He was in a bed. With fur blankets.


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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




"What happened back there?"


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


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


"It was Kokani who saved us."


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


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


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


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


"Raipu's here?"


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


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


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


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


"I'm really sorry about Talim."


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


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




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

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Chapter 2 - A New Beginning



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


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


Takua…help me.



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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


“Can you see the jungle from here?”


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


“I was just wondering.”


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


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


Jaka sighed. “I wish I knew.”






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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


The three nodded.


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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




"What's he doing?"


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


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


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


"Beautiful, isn't it?"


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


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


“We're really leaving, aren't we?"


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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

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  • 2 weeks later...

Chapter 3 - Brutality and Guilt



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


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


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


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


"Hide!" Kokani hissed.




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




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


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


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




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


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


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


"Who sent you?" he demanded.


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


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


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


“Who?” Kokani asked.


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


“What beast? Tell me.”


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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

Edited by ZOMBI3S







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Chapter 4 - The Wastes



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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


"Kokani, who wrote the Prophecies?"


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


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


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


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


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


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


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

Edited by ZOMBI3S







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Chapter 5 - Into the Abyss



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




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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


"Look out!"


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


"Mata Nui."


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


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


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


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


“Get out of the way!” he yelled.


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


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


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


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


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


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


“Oh, that’s not good," he winced.


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


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


“What’s going on?” Jaka asked.


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


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


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


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


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


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


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




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


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


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


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




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

Edited by ZOMBI3S







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Chapter 6 - Lost



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


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


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


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


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


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




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


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


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


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


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


Where are the others?


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


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


Ko-Wahi sucks.






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


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


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


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


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


Mata Nui, please be alright…


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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

Edited by ZOMBI3S







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Chapter 7 - Hope From Shadow



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


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


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


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


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


"Who are you?"


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


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


"Wait! Come back!"


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


"Go ahead. Take it.”


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


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


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


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


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


The Rahi Nui.


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


"You are in my realm now, Takua."


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


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


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


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


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


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


Takua looked at him, his eyes narrowing. The Toa was actually offering to make a deal with him. At first he was simply confused, but the more he thought about it he was insulted. After everything Saku had done to him? Anger flared up in Takua’s eyes, and he clenched his jaw. “You have nothing I could ever want.”


“Are you still sour about everything that happened in Le-Koro?” Saku asked. “I am terribly sorry about all of that by the way, but...” he trailed off, stopping to inspect his blade for a moment. “Business is business, you know.”


Takua couldn’t take the Toa’s taunts. “You killed her!” he spat out, his rage getting the best of him. “She did nothing to you, and you killed her in cold blood!”


And Saku’s eyes twinkled behind the Kraahkan. “So that’s what you want, is it?”


The Toa’s response caught him off guard. “...what?”


Saku leaned in closer as the great beast breathed beneath him. “Talim, wasn’t it? What if I told you that I could bring her back?”


Stunned, Takua didn’t know what to say. He clutched the Atouri against his chest and stared at the Mask of Shadows. Was Saku telling the truth? A rush of hope and excitement flickered through his brain before he forced himself back to reality. He had to be lying. “Talim’s dead. No one can bring her back.”


The Toa laughed. "Dead? No, she's not dead. Makuta thrives on destruction. It is his essence; it is his being. He is the Void, and anything that enters it becomes a part of him.”


Takua stared at him, not entirely sure he understood. “…what do you mean?”


“It is easy to kill someone, but that doesn’t destroy their spirit. The hearts and minds of the beings in this world give him much greater strength. As an agent of Makuta, I didn’t kill your friend, Takua. I simply…” he paused, thinking of the right word. “…took her from you. Her body sleeps, lost without its spirit, but I assure you she is very much alive”


Takua’s heart pounded in his chest. He didn’t know what to think. He was astounded, amazed even, but the thought scared him all the same. “Where is she?” he demanded.


“Not in a place either of us can go.”


Takua looked down at the Atouri, flitting his gaze between it and the Toa of Shadow. “You could bring her back?”


Saku smirked. “Just give me the stone and say the word.”


He could barely wrap his mind around the fact. If his time in the mountains had done anything, it had helped him come to terms with everything that had happened. Talim and Matau were gone, never to come back. He’d been forced to accept that, but now Saku had shattered everything. He could see her face now, lighting up just as it did when they were standing in the tall grass, watching the fireworks on the Spring Solstice. Everything he had felt then, all his emotions, it all came rushing back to him, even though he'd thought it had been buried with the snows of Ko-Wahi. The heat of the jungle was melting through the cold he'd grown accustomed to. He felt the Atouri beating against his chest.




“You could really bring her back?” he said, still stunned.


Saku smiled. "Only if that's what you want."


Takua was silent for a moment, lost in his own thoughts and memories. “How do I know you’re not lying?”


“You’ll just have to trust me,” Saku said calmly, his voice smooth, like silk. “You won’t have another chance quite like this, that I can guarantee.” He held out his hand, palm up, offering it to the Le-Matoran. “What do you say, Takua?”


Takua thought for a moment, and then slowly unhooked the Atouri from his neck. He had no reason to trust Saku, but somehow he knew the Toa was telling the truth. He held the stone in his palm, looked Saku in the eye, and smiled. He knew what he had to do.

Edited by ZOMBI3S







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Chapter 8 - Duty



Talim wasn't gone after all. She was waiting for him, somewhere, and this was his chance to save her. Clutching the Atouri with white knuckles he took a deep breath and raised his hand. He wanted to see her so bad. Conflicting emotions ran through him, but he had already made his decision. He knew what he had to do.


I’m sorry Talim.


Takua plunged the Atouri into the Rahi Nui’s claw. The pointed end of the stone cut through the beast’s flesh like a dagger, and it let out a roar as it dropped him instinctively. Takua pulled the stone out as he fell to the ground, and drops of the Rahi’s blood splattered his mask. He landed on his back with a thud, and sprinted for the forest as Saku yelled after him.


“Takua don’t be a fool!”


The giant claws crashed into the ground in front of him, blocking his escape. He whipped around to see Saku approaching, holding his bladed staff. The giant head of the Rahi Nui bared its teeth behind him, growling. Without thinking, he ran at the Rahi Nui's claws and jumped, a desperate attempt to hurdle them, but they moved upward and he was swatted to the ground like a fly. He found Saku's blade at his throat, but quickly he slammed it away with his dagger and sprang to his feet, ready to fight.


“I tried to reason with you, know that,” Saku glared.


He lunged with his staff, giving Takua barely enough time to step aside and parry the attack. Adrenaline pumped through the Matoran’s body as he ran to get in range with his dagger. He swiped at the Toa his blade whistling through the air as Saku sidestepped and elbowed him in the side of the mask. Takua stumbled back, took a kick to the stomach, and fell back down to the ground. Saku’s blade once again froze above his throat.


"I’ll give you one more chance," the Toa said. “Drop your weapon.”


Takua's dagger clattered to the ground.


"Give me the Atouri."


Takua stared up, unyielding. “No.”


Saku leaned in close and fire erupted in his eyes. His calm, deep voice was gone now, replaced by one that spoke quick with anger. "Or how about I crush your little friend's spirit so she can never come back? How about I kill your friends and give their mutilated worthless bodies to the Kryll?" he threatened. "That's all they are: worthless. All of your kind are worthless.” He kicked Takua in the side, opening up the wounds he had received from the Muaka. The Matoran cried out in pain. “A pathetic race of cowards and hypocrites who run to Toa every time something goes wrong. You don't deserve the right to live—"


There was a sudden whish as something flew through the air, and Saku's weapon was jerked away from Takua’s throat as the Toa stumbled back. The Matoran looked up to see an arrow sticking out of Saku’s shoulder, and a small amount of blood oozing from underneath his armor.


Many footsteps thudded as a group of about three dozen Matoran ran out of the forest behind them, firing their bows at Saku and the Rahi Nui. The beast roared and lashed out at the soldiers, flicking the bodies it hit across the ground as if they were toothpicks. One Matoran offered her hand to Takua.


"Are you all right?"


Takua took the hand, noticing it belonged to a Ga-Matoran, the only one in the group. The claw marks on his side were bleeding now, and he winced at the sight of it. "For now. Who are you?"


"Friends," the female Matoran ran off to aid in the battle.


Bolts of shadow whipped through the air as Saku retaliated, and the massive beast behind him pounded the ground at the tiny Matoran. Arrows whizzed past Takua, who stood in the middle of it all, wondering what had just happened. Snapping out of his stupor, he grabbed his dagger off the ground, and took cover behind a large boulder.


It was only then that he could reflect on the decision he had made. Talim was alive, somehow, and he had chosen not to save her. But he had a duty: Matau had entrusted him to keep the stone safe. The Turaga had died protecting him, and as much as he wanted to see Talim, he knew deep down that she wouldn’t have had it any other way.


He clutched the stone to his chest. I’ll find another way Talim, I promise.


"Retreat!" One of the Matoran called. "Fall back!"


Almost instantly the Matoran stopped firing their arrows and ran for the forest. Takua followed their lead. Clutching his side as it split with pain, he stumbled through the foliage as other Matoran flew past him. He could hear the great beast roaring behind him as the ground shook with its footsteps, and he knew that Saku wasn’t going to give up easily.


He winced as a pine branch smacked into his wound, and he paused for a moment to catch his breath. He could hear trees crashing to the ground as the beast chased after him and the other Matoran, and the sounds were only getting closer. He willed himself to go faster, but his side split with every step, and it was the best he could do to travel at a slow limp.


“Le-Matoran, what are you doing!? We have to get out of here, fast!” a figure said behind him as it burst through a bramble patch.


Takua turned around to see the Ga-Matoran who had helped him up. "Where are we going!?" He asked as he pushed a branch out of face.


"Mata Nui, you’re not looking so good!" she said as she put her arm around Takua’s waist, helping him to stand up straight. “Come, this way! Hurry!”


The beast roared behind them, and although it wasn’t visible through the thick branches, it was obvious it was close. Takua welcomed the help from the Ga-Matoran, and together they ran through the forest. As they climbed over a large boulder he made the mistake of looking at his wound: blood oozed down his side, covering his hand and the Ga-Matoran’s arm in a red hue. It was worse than he thought.


Soon the forest was squeezed into a small passage through the canyon, and the trees gave way to a clearing of snow. A pile of round shields lay there, and the Matoran accompanying them each grabbed one and jumped onto it, making their getaway as they sledded down the steep decline of the passage.The Ga-Matoran grabbed one and hopped onto it.


“Get on!”


A tree crashed down behind them, and they could hear the roar of the Rahi Nui, even closer now. Takua limped over to the shield, clutching his side. The world seemed to spin around him as he stumbled, and he knew he was losing too much blood.


Thump! Thump! The great beast’s footsteps sounded as a Ko-Matoran burst into the clearing. Seeing Takua stumbling, the Matoran picked him up and placed him on the shield behind the Ga-Matoran. He heard him say something about how everyone else had already escaped, but for some reason he couldn’t quite make sense of it. His head was growing foggy.


“Hey!” Takua felt a gentle smack his cheeks. “Stay with us, Le-Matoran! You’re going to be alright!”


Another tree fell behind them, followed by a great roar.


“Go! Go! Go!” someone said as Takua felt the shield start to move. A sudden rush of dizziness hit him and his head slumped against the Ga-Matoran’s shoulder. His vision grew foggy.


They moved down the slope and the icy wind picked up. It blew against Takua’s face, and he tried his best to stay awake. He clutched the warm blood on his side as the rest of his body froze. He noticed the Ko-Matoran fly past them on his own shield, and the Ga-Matoran grabbed his arms and swung them around her waist.


“Stay with me, Le-Matoran!”


There was a crash of falling trees followed by a huge roar. Their shield wobbled and spun around, and the last thing Takua saw before his eyes closed was the Rahi Nui towering over them, roaring into the night sky.

Edited by ZOMBI3S







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  • 1 month later...

Chapter 9 - Reunion



The world collapsed around Takua as he slipped in and out of consciousness. Chunks of rock and dust crashed into the snow as the Rahi Nui roared, shaking the very earth beneath him. The Ga-Matoran lay in the snow next to him, and with his blurry vision he saw her shield sliding down the slope without them. His eyes went black, and he entered the world of his dreams.


There was a temple. It sat at the center of a blackened crater, as a king would sit, overlooking an empty throne room. Silhouetted against the red sky, its grand exterior served as a beacon of hope for him as he walked the charred earth. His footsteps echoed as they hit the hard soil, but he knew he wasn't alone. Something was following him. He could feel it in the back of his mind. The beast was silent and dangerous, but Takua knew that if he could only make it to the top of the temple, he would find peace. Glancing over his shoulder, he saw a dark shape flit out of sight. The elaborately carved doors of the tower rose up before him, glinting of polished ivory and oak. He grasped one handle and pulled it open, straining to move the heavy door. Slowly, steadily, the dark insides of the temple opened up to him, and he quietly slipped inside.


Takua was wrenched back into the real world as he felt giant claws envelop him, lifting him into the air. He heard the Ga-Matoran screaming, followed by the solid thunk of an arrow piercing flesh. Blood splattered him, and the claws dropped him back into the cold snow. The shock of the fall sent his mind back into the dream.


He was running. It was coming after him, but what it was, he couldn’t tell. His lightstone only illuminated a few feet around him and the beast, no, the monster, could be hiding anywhere. He had to stay focused. He had to make it to the top of the tallest tower. It called him, and he yearned for whatever he would find there. A growl echoed around him, and he froze. Turning, he found the monster standing but a few feet in front of him, and he held his breath in fear. Slowly, it lurched toward him, its shoulders hunched over and its clawed feet thumping on the floor. Its arms hung carelessly at its sides as drool and blood dripped from its twisted fangs.


Excruciating pain awoke him, and he cried out into the night sky. Matoran were yelling now, and there was a loud explosion in the cliffs above him. The earth rumbled with the sound of an avalanche and he felt the light tap of the Ga-Matoran hitting his cheeks, telling him to stay with her. She was at his side, desperately trying to hold his wound together. Giant boulders thudded into the earth, sending great white plumes of snow into the air. He watched as a huge cascade of rock and snow smashed into the Rahi Nui. It stumbled and fell, pressed against the side of the cliff as the avalanche engulfed it. Hurried voices surrounded Takua and he felt someone pick him up. He was carried away from the chaos, away from the howling beast. Staring listlessly into the stars, he once again closed his eyes.


Unable to move, Takua could do nothing as he watched his nightmare advance towards him. Its long teeth widened in a horrible smile, and its bloodshot eyes bored into his soul. Petrified with fear, Takua stared back at it, and he came to a realization: he knew this beast. He had seen it before. Looking past the twisted fangs, he recognized its angular face. It was the Mask of Shadows.




With a jolt he awoke, and everything was quiet now. Whoever held him trudged through the snow with purpose, traversing a wide plain as the sun just barely rose above the eastern mountains. The Ga-Matoran came into view, and she smiled at him. As his vision started to fade for the last time, he managed to look up. The off-white of Kokani’s Akaku met his gaze.


The Ko-Matoran nodded, and Takua closed his eyes. He didn’t wake as Kokani carried him through the snow and toward the great bridge of ice. He didn’t see the huge glaciers that surrounded Ko-Koro up ahead, and he didn’t notice when they passed through its gate. What he did know was that Kokani held him, and that he was safe.






Takua awoke to find himself laying in a wooden bed with fur blankets, not much different from the one at Kokani’s burrow. The black, stone walls of the small room were lit with a lightstone cluster, imbedded into the far corner of the ceiling. It cast a faint, yellow glow, but as he turned his head to take in more of his surroundings, he noticed sunlight poking out from under the curtains of the room's only window. It seemed to be mid-afternoon.


As he struggled to move, he secretly hoped that his tendency for blacking out and waking up in strange places didn’t become a habit.


He sat up and clutched his side as it split with pain. Looking down, he realized his wound had been stitched up and bandaged. Wondering where he was, what had happened, and who had helped him, he lay back down in the bed. Minutes passed, and soon he heard footsteps coming from an open doorway behind him. They briskly clunked on the wood floor, as if the being that made them was on an important mission. A stern atmosphere enveloped the room as the sounds crept closer, and as they entered the doorway, Takua felt it was necessary to pretend to be asleep.


The sounds stopped at the foot of his bed. Nothing happened for a moment, but then he heard a familiar voice.




Takua opened an eye.


“I’m going to kill you Takua!”




Suddenly the Le-Matoran was on the bed, hugging him. “You scared the karzahni out of me! I thought you were dead!”


Takua smiled as his friend embraced him and then helped him to sit up. “What happened? How did you get here?”


And Jaka told him the whole story. After the Muaka attack, he, Raipu, and Kokani searched for him, but to no avail. By the time they had made camp for the night at the bottom of the canyon, a patrol of the Sanctum Guard had surrounded them, mistaking them for bandits, or spies of Makuta. It was a Ga-Matoran who recognized Kokani, and offered them help.


“I remember a Ga-Matoran,” Takua said. “She helped me escape from the Rahi Nui.”


Jaka nodded. “We told her we were looking for you, and she said she’d seen you earlier walking toward the ‘The Lair of the Beast,’ and we knew we had to find you.”


“So that was you who sent them?”


Jaka grinned. “It was awesome! We had this whole plan figured out. Some of them went to get you, and when the Rahi Nui came after you, Kokani, Raipu and I triggered an avalanche and we crushed it! Aw, Mata Nui, I wish you would’ve been there!”


Takua shook his head. “I was there, Jaka.”


“Oh…right,” his Kakama twitched. “But I meant like, to make the avalanche and stuff. Not, you know, bleeding and getting chased by a monster.”


Takua smiled. “You’re a loser, you know that?”


Jaka rolled his eyes. “At least I don’t black out all the time.”


“I have a serious wound!”


“It’s good to see you awake.” The two friends turned around as Kokani, Raipu, and the Ga-Matoran entered the room.


Takua’s eyes were drawn to the newcomer, as we was curious to find out more about her. She was a full royal blue in color, with black feet and a black Komau, and was tall, almost as tall as Kokani. She seemed a little bit older than Takua, but not by much. With one corner of her mouth turning up, she walked up to Takua and stuck her hand out, oozing an easy-going, confident atmosphere.


“The name's Aya," she smirked. "Good to see you not dead, Takua.”


“Yeah,” Takua shook it and looked at Kokani and Raipu. They met his gaze, and it felt good to know that they were there for him. If it hadn’t been for them, he would have never met this Matoran, and he  may have never escaped from that dark crevice. “Thanks for helping me out back there.”


Aya grinned, and Takua liked her already. Their conversation went on, mostly spurred by Jaka's need to tell him everything he had missed during their separation. Takua smiled, taking it all in. He learned all about their travels down the canyon, how they'd waited through the night for him to show up, how they'd almost gotten killed over a misunderstanding. He even learned how Kokani and Aya knew each other: the Ko-Matoran had been her mentor, a long time ago. He'd taught her how to fight, shown her how to live in the frozen wastes, back when she had first came to live in the mountains. Takua's interest peaked at the thought: Kokani willingly taking someone under his wing? It didn't seem like him, but then again, there was definitely more than met the eye when it came to Ko-Matoran.


Eventually, they helped him out of bed, and showed him small square of Ko-Koro, situated just below Takua’s room at the inn. It was a pretty sight, with the fresh snow sparkling in the late afternoon sun. The city was calm and quiet, and Takua liked it. It was soothing, and helped him to forget the pain of his injury, and the decisions of the past.


Soon enough the sun was lowering in the sky, casting its orange glow upon the pine trees and the snowy buildings. Kokani led the way in the direction of the Sanctum, a large domed structure at the end of the square, and Takua remembered that the day was not yet over: Turaga Nuju was waiting for them. Council was still to be had, and he looked down at the Atouri, his nerves suddenly getting the best of him. The rest of his party had started to walk up the Sanctum's wide, stone steps, but he hesitated. He stared at the black stone, brushing his fingers against it, his mind wondering what he was about to get himself into.


He wasn't ready. Not yet.


"Kokani?" he called out. A question burned in the back of his mind.


The Ko-Matoran gave him an inquisitive look. Takua stood at the base of the steps, fidgeting ever so slightly, and after a moment Kokani responded by turning around and walking over to him. He looked down at Takua, just out of earshot from the others, his eyes asking what it was the Le-Matoran needed.


Takua looked at the ground and hesitated, suddenly struggling to form his words. With a sigh, he forced himself to continue. "Remember back in Le-Koro, when people found the storyteller who was trying to warn me?”


Kokani nodded.


"He’s not really dead, is he?"


"No, Takua."


Takua almost didn’t ask it, because he was afraid of what the answer might be. But he had to know. "Can you ever heal someone who's like that?"




Takua paused. Somehow he’d expected Kokani's answer, but he couldn’t shake Saku’s words. He had more reason to trust Kokani than the Toa of Shadow...but now that the idea was in his head, he couldn't just give up on her. “I don’t know if you know this, but the Rahi Nui and I weren't alone in that crevice. Saku was there.”


To the untrained eye, Kokani would have shown no emotion, but Takua knew better. His mask seemed to tighten up, and the Ko-Matoran clenched his jaw. His thoughts seemed to churn for a second before he responded. “He offered to trade the stone for Talim, didn’t he?”


A bit surprised, Takua nodded.


Kokani put his hands on Takua’s shoulders. “I know you don’t want to hear this, but there is no way to heal someone in that state. She'll sleep, forever. Until her body rejoins the earth.” He paused, looking into Takua’s eyes. His voice was stern. “Talim isn't coming back, Takua.”


They stared at each other for a moment more, then Kokani let go of him, following the others toward the Sanctum.


“I told him I wouldn't!” Takua blurted out, feeling as though he had to explain himself.


Kokani stopped walking. He turned around to look at the young Le-Matoran.


“Come on,” he said, beckoning, and Takua quickly caught up to him. “You did the right thing, Takua.” He patted him on the shoulder, and let out a half-smile to show his approval. “You did the right thing.”

Edited by ZOMBI3S







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  • 4 weeks later...

Chapter 10 - Council and Uncertainty



The deep blue walls loomed above Takua as he stared up at the domed ceiling of the Sanctum. Thousands upon thousands of words and symbols were etched into the rock, explaining events passed and foretelling of ones yet to come. Ko-Matoran milled about, quietly studying the walls as a low chant seemed to fill the air. Kokani led them to the back of the dome, and Takua’s eyes were drawn to a statue of a tall figure brandishing a sword and a shield. Its stone Akaku stared out towards the far wall, proud and strong. Orange flowers were draped around its shoulders, and incense and lightstones were placed around its feet.


“That’s Toa Kopaka,” Aya told him quietly. “Some say he was the most powerful of all the Toa.”


Takua stared up at the figure, dreaming about what it might have been like to stand in the legendary hero’s presence. He brushed his finger against the tip of the statue’s blade, and could almost feel the power of a snowstorm swirling within it. “What do you think happened to them?” he asked.


Aya looked up at the statue for a moment before answering. “They fulfilled their destiny, and Mata Nui called them back to him.”


Takua studied the statue for a moment or two longer, taking in the sweet scent of the incense and flowers, when something caught his eye: a few lines of script, engraved into the base. “Under the gaze of red, two will dance,” he read. “Light and Dark will meet, and the dance shall turn to dust…wait a minute, I’ve seen this before back in Le-Koro!”


Aya looked down at the inscription. “The dust shall dance, and spirits shall fall., and only one will remain….huh. I’ve never noticed that before.”


“Do you know what it means?”


She shook her head just as Kokani called out Takua’s name from the end of the dome, where he and the rest of their party now stood. Quickly, they walked over to meet up. A small wooden door was embedded into the wall, guarded by two Ko-Matoran.


“Kokani I just saw an inscription and I was wondering if—“


“Now is not the time,” Kokani commanded, and Takua shut his mouth. “Nuju is ready to see you. He will not speak with you directly, as you will not understand his wisdom, but his translator will answer any questions you have.”


Takua nodded. He’d heard about Nuju before, and had always pictured him as a little strange. Takua swallowed and turned to face the guards, who opened the door for him. His hand resting on his dagger to settle his nerves, he walked through the doorway and into a circular room, followed by Kokani and the rest of his friends.The room was the same deep blue color, but no symbols were etched into the walls here. Six elaborately carved chairs were arranged in a circle, facing the center of the chamber, but only one was occupied. The figure sat silently, staring at Takua from across the room, holding a decorative pick axe in its right hand: Turaga Nuju.


“Ah, Takua!” A voice sounded from his left, and Takua looked to find an Onu-Matoran approaching him. The being was about his height, and wore a beautifully polished purple Rau. A sash inlaid with gold thread hung around his shoulders, and as he stuck out his arm for a handshake, Takua noticed emerald and diamond rings on his fingers. “It’s such a pleasure to finally meet you!”


“Thanks...” Takua said, shaking the Matoran’s hand, feeling strange that the Onu-Matoran knew his name. “And you are?”


“Oh, of course! My apologies,” he paused to adjust his sash. “My name is Illum, representative of Onu-Koro, translator for Turaga Nuju, and humble Matoran under the wisdom of the Sanctum.”


Kokani coughed from behind Takua, and Illum looked up. Instantly the Onu-Matoran’s wide smile turned into a look of astonishment. “K-Kokani,” he stuttered, “I admit I wasn’t expecting to see you here.”


Kokani nodded. “The feeling is mutual.”


Takua looked at the two Matoran as he felt the tension in the room rising. Nuju sat in his chair, looking at them silently with his ice blue eyes. Illum opened his mouth to speak once again, but Kokani immediately cut him off.


“I expected a Ko-Matoran to act as Nuju’s translator.” Kokani said, staring at Illum. His words weren't offensive, but they were cold, and spoken with disgust.


Illum’s response was immediate, as if he had said it a hundred times. “I can assure you and your friends, Kokani, that I am perfectly capable of performing this role. I have acted as ambassador for Onu-Koro for many years and much of my time has been spent here. I have learned much about the Sanctum and Nuju’s teachings. If for any reason you feel uncomfortable with my presence, perhaps we could reschedule this meeting when another translator is available—”


“That won’t be necessary,” Kokani said loudly, and Illum cringed for a moment, as a Mahi would when its master clutched a whip. “Besides,” he continued, “I’m sure Turaga Nuju is very busy. I mean no disrespect.” He bowed to the Turaga, and Nuju nodded his head in return, as if he understood Kokani’s feelings.


“Of course,” Illum stood back up to his full height and straightened the sash around his shoulders again. “If you would all take a seat, we may begin.”


Each of them sat in a chair, with Takua directly across from Nuju. Only Illum was left standing as the Turaga started moving his hands in strange motions, and the Onu-Matoran began to speak.


“There is a prophesy,” he said, pausing as the Turaga signed for a bit, “that seven beings will come to this island. Six will come first, and when the time is right they will unite their powers and summon the Seventh, who will rise up from the waters of Naho bay. It is said that this seventh will wield the power to destroy the Atouri.”


Takua looked at the black stone, hanging around his neck. It still seemed strange to him that such a small trinket was the source of so much conflict.


Illum continued. "It is not yet clear who these beings are, but the stars all point to one conclusion. A new age is on its way, an age that hearkens back to the elder days, when Mata Nui and Makuta were at peace. However, this age will be born out of blood and fire, and the beings that will bring about its coming will be of great power. It is written that history shall repeat itself, and so we can only assume one thing: this is the prophesy we have been waiting for; the prophesy that will deliver us from Makuta's shadow. This is the prophesy that tells of the return of the Toa."


Takua looked up, suddenly very interested. The Toa had been gone for ages, and the only the Turaga remembered a time when they walked the earth. Countless childhood stories and legends coursed through his head at the thought of them, and instantly he wanted to know more.


“Nuju says that your coming here is of great importance,” Illum said as he began to walk around the perimeter of the room. The fearful demeanor of his talk with Kokani was dwindling away, replaced by the charming and charismatic one that had first greeted Takua. It seemed that Illum was most comfortable when he was talking. “He believes that you are the one who will ready the island for the coming of these beings, and he asks that you take the Atouri to Ga-Koro in preparation for their coming. But before you accept this task, Nuju understands that you must have many questions. He remembers that your namesake, the one who became the Toa of Light, had many questions about his duty, and so Nuju will answer any that you may have now.”


Takua looked back down at the Atouri and thought for a moment. What questions did he have? He wasn't really sure. His mind churned for a bit, but only one thought seemed to form above all others.


“Why me?”


Nuju started signing again, and Illum began to talk. “Every day that passes, darkness invades Mata Nui. The Kryll grow ever stronger, throwing aside their nomadic ways for fortresses and strongholds. Ships from the Eastern Continent continuously land on our northern shores, and their numbers grow as well as their hostility. They are rallied together by one very specific Kryll, known to have a deep seeded hatred for Matoran. He is known by many names, but mostly commonly he is Krosis, the King of the Kryll. It is said that he has pledged himself to Makuta, and is commonly seen with Saku, the Toa of Shadow, who also plagues our lands.” Illum paused as Nuju signed for a moment more. “It is Nuju’s understanding that you have met this being before, the night of the attack on Le-Koro.”


Takua remembered the Kryll with the golden armor and red warpaint, and felt a tingling of anger inside of him. Krosis… he thought. Now at least he had a name.


“Along with these two, there are rumors of another servant of Makuta living among us. A Matoran, obviously well-connected, has been feeding Saku and Krosis information about the Turaga’s plans, but his identity has escaped us. That is how they have escaped detection for so long, how Saku knew about Matau’s trap in Le-Koro, and how they were able to take the city so easily. All three of these beings know about the prophesy, and they know about the Atouri. They will be searching for it, and that is why Turaga Nuju believes that you should carry out this task.”


Takua looked at Illum quizzically, leading him to continue.


“We need someone who is able to travel across the island unnoticed. An armed caravan will attract too much attention, and you have experience with these beings. You know better than anyone how they think, and with Kokani as your guide, Nuju trusts that you will not fail.”


Takua didn’t believe that he knew how Saku and Krosis thought, but he did trust that as long as Kokani was with him, he would be safe. The choice Nuju offered him now wasn't even a choice to Takua. It was just something that he accepted, as he didn't know what else he would do.


“I’ve come this far,” Takua said, looking into Nuju’s eyes. “Why stop now?”


The Turaga’s Matatu smiled, and Illum spoke his words. “Nuju is pleased with your decision, and he gives you his blessing. Turaga Nokama will be expecting you, for the red star tells us that the coming of the six will soon be upon us. He trusts that you will do well in your task, Herald of the Atouri.”


"Hold on," Jaka stood up from his chair and faced Takua. "You don’t suppose I’m going to let you go without me, do you? I know you can't take care of yourself."


Nuju looked at the duo and nodded. “Your party has done well so far, I see no reason why some should stay while the others leave, should you two choose to accept as well.” Illum said as Nuju motioned to Aya and Raipu.


“Oh no, I only helped them to get to Ko-Koro, I haven’t been…” Aya trailed off, looking at everyone around her. After a moment she stood up and bowed. “I would be honored to accept,” she said formally, but Takua could see the excitement under her mask, and he knew she had been waiting for this opportunity.


But Raipu was silent. He sat in his chair, looking at the ground, obviously deep in thought. Takua remembered how apprehensive he had been back when they decided to leave Kokani’s burrow. Raipu had never wanted this. If it were up to him, he would be in Le-Koro right now, trying to rebuild what he’d lost. Takua remembered how quiet he had been in their journey through Ko-Wahi, and realized that Raipu probably wouldn’t be traveling with them any longer.


“I’ll do it,” the Po-Matoran said.


Takua looked at him, a bit suprised, but he was glad. Perhaps there was more to the Po-Matoran than he thought.


“It is settled. Friendship is your ally, and it will make all hardships easier to bear. Nuju wishes Mata Nui to watch over us all, and that we may have Pohatu’s speed, Onua’s strength, Tahu’s courage, Gali’s wisdom, Kopaka’s power, and perhaps most importantly, Lewa’s humor. This council is hereby adjourned."


Nuju dipped his head, and they all bowed in return, including Illum. As everyone filed out of the council chamber, he turned around to look at the wise Turaga one last time. His Matatu was aged, and he leaned heavily on his pick axe, but through his icy blue eyes Takua could tell his mind was very much alive. He paused, letting everyone else leave the room, until he and the Turaga were alone.


Slowly, Nuju walked up to him, his footsteps echoing in the empty room as his pick axe thumped on the stone floor. He stopped about a foot away from Takua, his eyes curiously asking what it was that the Matoran wanted.


Takua was excited about what was to come of his adventure, but still he wasn’t sure. A part of him was still in Le-Koro, watching Matau and Talim as they were ripped away from him.


“What if things don’t work out?” he asked, realizing that it was a stupid question, but he still needed some kind of answer.


Nuju smiled and placed one hand on his shoulder. Then, in a raspy, old, deep voice that hadn’t been used in a very long time, he spoke.


"If you ever find yourself lost, follow the red star, for it shall guide you toward your destiny."


Takua didn’t know how to take that, or even what it meant, but the Turaga’s eyes held something inside of them that reassured him. Something told him that if it was worth saying by the Turaga, it was worth listening to. Something told him that Nuju spoke the truth.






The early morning sun streamed through the mountains, casting its glow upon Ko-Koro’s gate. Takua and Jaka stood in the square, waiting for Kokani, Raipu and Aya to finish packing up their belongings. They had resupplied the night before and Kokani had bought Takua a new, emerald green pack to replace the one he had lost. A quarter inch of fresh snow covered the black rock of the square, and the sky was a bright, inviting blue.


"Did you ever think we'd be sent on a mission by a Turaga?" Takua asked, speaking his thoughts. “It’s kind of weird.”


Jaka looked up. "Weird?"


"Yeah. I never thought it'd be me doing this."


Jaka adjusted his pack so it sat better on his shoulders. "Life is crazy, I guess."


Silence dominated the square for a few moments as they stared off through the opening of the gate, wondering about the future.


"We could be heroes, Jaka."


Jaka snorted, laughing a bit to himself, but he smiled at Takua. "Maybe."


They heard the footsteps of the other three, and soon enough they were walking toward the gate, leaving Ko-Koro behind them. The Atouri thumped against Takua’s chest, reminding him of his duty, but overall, he felt pretty good. After all, one could never have too much adventure.




He turned around at the sound of his name to see Illum running towards him across the square, bundled in a luxurious fur coat. He stopped to let the Onu-Matoran catch up.


“I wanted to have a word with you before you left,” Illum said, “if that’s alright.”


Takua nodded his head. “Sure, what's up?”


“I know I don’t know you very well,” Illum said as his mask gleamed in the morning light, “but I thought I’d just say good luck out there.” He stuck out his hand, and Takua shook it.




Illum leaned in close so that only he could hear. “Be careful. Mata Nui is a dangerous place: trust no one, not even those closest to you.”


Takua looked at him, suddenly on edge. “What are you saying?”


“Nuju trusts him, but I’d still watch my back if I were you,” he said, nodding towards Kokani. “There are rumors about him, you know. Dark rumors.” Illum paused, letting the thought sink in. “One of Makuta’s servants is living among us, and although I try not to judge, well…” he trailed off for a second. “...it could be anyone.”


Takua glanced over at Kokani, who had started to walk towards him and Illum. He really didn’t know anything about the Ko-Matoran. He was friends with Matau and he had saved his life many times, but what if there was something darker to Kokani? Takua remembered the fire he’d seen in his eyes when they were ambushed by Kryll, and how much it had unnerved him. There was definitely something Kokani wasn’t telling them.


“Just saying,” Illum said as Kokani came into earshot. He patted Takua on the shoulder and let go of his hand. “Good luck out there, friend.”


And just like that, Illum was gone, and they had left Ko-Koro. Suddenly, the world wasn’t full of adventure and stories. It was full of unknown dangers, and darkness crept around every corner. After all, they were still being hunted. They still had to cross the entire island of Mata Nui, and while the dangers of Rahi, Saku, and Krosis were intimidating, Takua couldn’t help but wonder: what if their most dangerous enemy was within their midst all along?


The Atouri thumped against his chest as he looked at Kokani, walking along the mountain road ahead of him. Clutching the straps of his pack, he tried to settle his nerves as his heart beat loud in his chest.




Takua sighed. Only time would tell.





~End of Part II~

Edited by ZOMBI3S







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  • 1 month later...



Chapter 1 - Misfits



Lightning flashed as Takua gripped the rock, pressing his back against the mountain as the thunderstorm pelted him with rain. Mud and water rushed off a ledge above his head, forming a wall of brown liquid that cascaded just inches from his face. The tame, wide, mountain road they'd departed Ko-Koro on had morphed into a narrow shelf, cutting into the near vertical cliffs, forcing the company to shimmy along its edge in single file. One false step on the slippery rocks could send them plummeting down the near-vertical mountainside.


Eventually there was a break in the cascade of water, and Takua looked around, making sure everyone was still present. He wiped the mud from his mask and yelled over the torrential rain. “Everyone alright?”


Jaka nodded, standing right behind him, and Aya responded with a thumbs-up, a couple feet in front. He saw the white outline of Kokani even farther ahead, easily thirty feet away. He was barely visible through the downpour, but Takua wasn’t worried about Kokani.


“Where’s Raipu?” he asked. Minutes ago the Po-Matoran had stood between him and Aya. He looked around, searching for a second before repeating himself. “Where’s Raipu!?”


“Help!” Raipu’s voice rang out, and Takua glanced over the edge of the shelf. The Po-Matoran was dangling by his fingers over the vast drop-off, nothing but air beneath him.


Takua got down to his knees as fast as he could without throwing himself off-balance. “Raipu grab my hand!” he yelled, and the Po-Matoran took it, pulling himself up toward the ledge.




A section of the rock shelf gave way, and Takua let out a yell as he fell into the open air. Desperate, he reached to grab onto something, and just barely managed to connect with Aya’s hand. The Ga-Matoran strained under their combined weight, and she was forced to lie on her stomach to prevent herself from being pulled over.


"Pull!" Takua yelled. Aya tried her best, but it wasn’t enough. Even as Jaka’s scrambled to help, Takua could feel his fingers slipping away from them, and he looked down at Raipu, desperately clinging to his other arm. The rain obscured his vision, and all he could see below him was a grey void.


“Takua don’t you dare let go!” Jaka yelled at him.


“I’m slipping!”


Inch by inch, Takua felt his arm slip out of Aya’s grip, and he closed his eyes. Then, another hand gripped onto his arm, and he looked up to find Kokani staring down at him. With the Ko-Matoran’s help, Jaka and Aya managed to pull them back onto the ledge, and the five Matoran sat for a moment and rested. Thunder rumbled above them as they sat, until Aya finally spoke up.


“We need to find shelter, Kokani,” she turned her head to look at the Ko-Matoran. “We’re going to get ourselves killed out here.”


Kokani nodded. “There’s a small cave up ahead. We can rest there for the night.”






Takua sat down, sighing as he leaned back against the wall of the cave. His pack crumpled to the floor beside him, and he wedged his lightstone into a crack in the wall, providing just enough light to get a good look around. The space was just large enough for the five of them, and provided much needed shelter from the raging storm outside. He eyed Kokani as he rummaged through his pack, finally having a moment to collect his thoughts.


He had every reason to trust the Ko-Matoran, but he couldn’t seem to shake Illum’s words. Since they had left Ko-Koro, Takua had tried to find out more about their guide, but to no avail. Kokani never gave up anything about his past. It wasn't that his brief conversation with Illum had completely shaken his trust in the Ko-Matoran, but rather, it had made him realize just how little he knew about him. It was, now that he'd been thinking about it, a little unnerving. He stared, watching Kokani's muddied armor move in the yellow light, until finally he decided to speak


“How do you know Illum, Kokani?”


Kokani glanced at the Le-Matoran, the light twinkling in his eyes. “Why do you ask?”


He shrugged. “I was just wondering.”


Kokani sighed as he pulled an extra lightstone and a map from his pack. “Illum is Onu-Koro’s ambassador. He travels to other villages and cities, discussing relations and politics. I have met him many times over my years with the Sanctum.”


Takua nodded. “You two don’t seem to get along very well.”


Kokani huffed, making it obvious what his thoughts were before opening his mouth. “He is a politician. He debates and argues about what is best for the Matoran, but only so long as it will keep his coffers full of widgets. He dresses himself in precious jewels while there are people in his city that remain poor and starving. Never once has he been out in the real world, and never once has he truly meant the words he speaks.”


Takua looked down at the ground, feeling a little guilty as Kokani placed his lightstone on the floor of the cave, spreading out his map. He motioned for the others to gather around, and Takua knew he shouldn’t have taken Illum’s words to heart when Kokani’s actions should have spoken louder.


“We’re about here,” Kokani changed the subject as he pointed to the northern border of Ko-Wahi, just beneath a small green strip of vegetation at the edge of the mountains. To the north was the vast expanse of the Motara desert, and to the east the small green strip expanded into the mangrove forests of Ga-Wahi and Naho bay. “We should be able to descend out of the mountains by tomorrow afternoon, and from there we can travel east under the cover of the forest to Ga-Koro.”


“We won’t be going through Po-Koro?” Raipu asked.


Kokani looked up. “Why would we?”


“I don’t know…” he trailed off. “I just figured we would stop for supplies or something.”


Jaka cocked his head, studying Raipu for a second. “Feeling homesick?” he asked.


“What? No...” Raipu looked at him, trailing off. “…well, maybe a little." He paused, looking at the cavern floor before shrugging his shoulders. "I’ll be alright though.”


Kokani's ice blue eyes looked at the Po-Matoran, clearly not caring about anyone's homesickness. He pointed to the map again. "We travel directly to Ga-Koro. The trees provide cover if we run into any trouble, and there numerous small villages along the way if we are in desperate need of supplies. But I'd prefer if we kept that to a minimum." He took a moment to look at everyone in the room. "Any questions?"


Takua shook his head, along with everyone else. Occasionally Aya was able to get away with challenging Kokani, but other than that, everything was pretty much his call. That wasn't necessarily a bad thing, however; he was definitely the most seasoned traveler among them.


Satisfied, Kokani rolled up his map and packed it away. He pulled his pack to the corner of the cave, pulling out a small cloth, content to polish his blade in silence. With all of his business taken care of, the group was quiet, and Takua listened to the pitter-patter of rain as it hit the rock outside. He gazed out the cave's entrance, the sky a blurry, grey canvas, only interrupted by the occasional flash of lightning, or the delayed rumble of thunder.


“You have someone special there, don’t you?”


Takua's attention was pulled back to the group as Aya's voice broke the silence. The Ga-Matoran smirked, leaning forward as she pointed at Raipu. Kokani may have been her mentor at some point, but she was nothing like him when it came to personality. Where Kokani was quiet and stoic, Aya was loud and...well, very forward.


"Someone you really want to see, yeah?" Aya grinned.


Raipu looked surprised as she changed the subject back to him, but slowly, he let out a small chuckle. “I guess you could say that.”


“Well come on, tell us!” she demanded, folding her arms and leaning back. “We have nowhere to be.”


Raipu sighed and fiddled with a string on his pack before speaking up. “Her name’s Nika. We grew up together. When I first left for Le-Koro I asked her to come with me, but…” he stopped for a moment, thinking of what to say. “...I guess she liked home more than I did.”


"You left her for Le-Koro?" Aya raised her eyebrows, curious. "Why?"


“I...I’m not really sure,” Raipu shook his head, “I’m not like a lot of Po-Matoran, I guess. I never really fit in there. I wasn’t a good carver, I didn’t value Kolhii the way everyone else did, and...well, I guess I just needed a change of scenery," he paused twirling his string around his fingers. "We still write each other, but...I'd still like to see her if I could."


"Well, that's..." Aya's eyes looked up as she trailed off, thinking of the right word. Her mask contorted, as if everything that came to her wasn't satisfying enough. She sighed, finally finishing her thought, albeit a bit uncomfortably. "...cute."


Takua snorted a little bit, looking from her to Raipu. Aya had a way with sarcasm, in that you could never really tell when she was using it.


"If that's what you want to call it, I guess." Raipu squinted, not really sure what she meant by that. He flicked his string out of his hands,  “What about you? A Ga-Matoran in Ko-Wahi? I bet that has a story.”


"Yeah..." There was silence for a few moments before the Ga-Matoran spoke up. “Ga-Koro's nice and all, but it was always too quiet for me. Everyone would look at you funny if you said anything about adventure, and once you get a reputation as being different…well....” She drew her short sword as she paused, inspecting its blade in the dim light. “Eh...Ga-Koro bored me," she summed up. "When I met Kokani I decided I’d had enough of it, and I left.” She sent a glance over to the Ko-Matoran, who looked up for only a second, but then went back to polishing his staff.


Jaka chimed in as he bit into a strip of jerky, adding his own two cents. “I wouldn’t say we were the most popular Matoran either.”


Takua let out a half-smile from where he sat, holding the Atouri in his palm, tracing its edges with his index finger. It shimmered in the light, reflecting small spots of light on the cave walls. Eventually, he looked up at the others and shrugged.


“I guess we’re all misfits here, huh?”


A long roll of thunder boomed outside, and the gentle tapping of rain echoed throughout the cave. Takua rolled out his sleeping pad and stared at the rocky ceiling, letting his mind drift where it pleased until sleep took him.






Kokani knelt down and sifted through the ashes of the old fire pit. A few Rahi bones and a broken scimitar lay around it. "It’s old, probably a few days," he concluded. "A band of kryll camped here; four, maybe five of them. We need to be on our guard: there are many more of them on this side of the mountains."


They were entering the green strip Kokani had pointed out the previous night, and as they traveled down the mountain, the more apparent that became. More plants grew, and eventually they found themselves surrounded not only by tall grasses and shrubs, but lush, green trees and forests of bamboo. The crisp air warmed, growing increasingly humid, and the snow that capped the mountain formed streams that gurgled and crisscrossed over the small trail they walked on.


Takua took a deep breath and savored the humid air. It deeply reminded him of Le-Koro. His time in Ko-Wahi had made him miss the cover of the leaves and the small spaces it provided. The scents and sounds of the forest all came rushing back to him, and he loved every second of it. Even the bugs that buzzed around made him smile as they hovered by his ears and darted off before he could smack at them.


As evening came that day they found themselves out on the farms of a small trading village, gently nestled at the base of the mountain. Terraced crops were cut into the rock, and they saw farmers and livestock returning to their homes after a hard day’s work. The Matoran living here were rather diverse: most of them were a mix of Po and Onu-Matoran, but one could also pick out the occasional Ga-matoran walking the streets. Herds of Mahi wandered the fields, while trained Hapaka barked at anyone passing by. As they walked, they even saw one farmer trying to coax a Husi bird to come down from where it was perched atop a roof. Takua chuckled at the sight.


Kokani led the way to the village’s inn, where they stopped to have a decent meal and the chance to sleep in a real bed. A bell above the door rang as he opened it, and the voices of many Matoran flooded their ears as they did. The luxurious two-story building was decorated with hand carved wood along the walls and ceiling. There was a spot of wooden floor near the entrance to wash one's feet, as the rest of the structure's floor was covered in dark blue carpet. The main lobby served as a restaurant and bar, and a small ornate fountain was placed directly in the room's center, displaying a scene of a Takea shark leaping out of the water. The fountain's base read 'The Great Takea,' presumably the name of the place. There was a second floor balcony that stretched around the perimeter of the lobby, which led into a long hallway filled with rooms.


Following Kokani’s lead, all five of them sat down at an empty table. A Po-Matoran waitress soon greeted them, and passed out menus.


“Welcome to The Great Takea, restaurant and luxury resort. What can I do for you this—” She stopped talking immediately as looked up from her notepad, making eye contact with Takua, then Jaka and Kokani. “You’re Le-Matoran…” she trailed off.


Takua and Jaka exchanged a confused glance before looking back at her.


“Is something wrong?” Jaka asked.


The waitress’ mask drained of color as she looked at the setting sunlight that streamed through the windows. “You have to leave. All of you.”


Aya spoke up. “Hey, we've traveled a long way to get here, and you have no reason to kick us out! We’re paying customers!”


“You don’t understand,” the waitress said, looking around nervously. “Every night about this time Kryll come in. They're looking for a group of—”


The door swung open forcefully, and everyone turned their heads. A group of Kryll stood in the doorway, led by one Turaga Nuju himself had warned them about: Krosis, the King of the Kryll.

Edited by ZOMBI3S







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  • 2 weeks later...

Chapter 2 - The Great Takea



“I told you before, Noruk! Your kind aren’t welcome here!” a Matoran behind the bar yelled at the group of Kryll. The restaurant grew quiet at the sound of commotion, and Matoran around the room turned their heads to watch the scene. “You can’t just barge into my restaurant anytime you want! If you’re looking for someone that’s your business, but don’t come bringing it here!”


A Kryll with bronze armor and emerald green eyes strolled up to the bartender. Takua gasped, realizing that it was the same one from their encounter in Ko-Wahi, only now he seemed to wear a belt with metal cylinders attached to it. But the Kryll hadn’t spotted them yet, and so Takua sank low in his seat.


“I'd suggest you watch your tongue, old man,” the Kryll called Noruk said in a raspy voice. “You wouldn’t want to offend my dear friend Krosis, would you?”


The bartender’s mask went white at the sound of the name, and he looked at the Kryll with golden armor. He swallowed, trying to regain his nerve, and sternly turned back to Noruk. “I can tolerate you and a couple others as long you don’t cause any damage, but not him. This is too far.”


Still standing next to Kokani, the Po-Matoran waitress subtly pulled a key out of her pocket and placed it on the table. “Go and hide, before they spot you,” she whispered. “Room nineteen, second floor. Stairs are over there.” She nodded to a staircase on the far wall.


Kokani grabbed the key and bent over, hiding behind tables of Matoran as he made his way toward the stairs. Before Takua knew what was going on, the others had followed his lead and had made it halfway across the room. Cursing himself for not paying attention, he ducked behind a booth and lost track of the bartender’s conversation. Focusing solely on the blue carpet in front of him, he quietly made his way across the large dining room.


His friends were at the bottom of the stairs now, and Jaka turned around for a moment to make eye contact with him. Hiding underneath a round table filled with Po-Matoran, he mouthed at his friend to go on; he’d catch up. Quietly, Jaka nodded and ran up the stairs.




Takua looked up at the sound of shattering dishes. Noruk held the bartender by his throat. The Matoran’s feet dangled a foot above the ground as the bronze-armored Kryll screamed at him.


“We saw them enter a few minutes ago; we know you’re hiding them! Where are they!?”


Other workers of The Great Takea had been standing behind the bartender, and at Noruk’s actions every one of them drew weapons. The Kryll snarled, unmoved by the butchering knives, daggers, and broken bottles pointed at his throat. The three Kryll behind him drew their scimitars and pointed them at the workers. With both sides having drawn blades, no one dared to move except the bartender, struggling desperately for air.


“Put the Matoran down, Noruk.”


Krosis’ deep, powerful voice sounded as his eyes surveyed the dining room. For a moment Noruk stared at his prey, but then he released his grip, the metal cylinders around his waist clinking as he did so. The bartender fell to the ground, gasping for air. One of the workers helped him to his feet while the others stared at the Kryll, not moving their blades. Takua watched silently from underneath his table, as he dared not move while Krosis stared in his direction.


Silently, the golden Kryll unsheathed his blade. The curved protosteel glimmered in the soft light that streamed through the windows, and he weighed it in his hand as if he were feeling it for the first time.


With a flash of his armor the Kryll threw his sword, and it slammed into the wooden top of Takua’s table, knocking it over and shattering dishes as Po-Matoran screamed and jumped away. Takua found himself sitting on the floor, entirely exposed as the restaurant was silent for a second. Krosis met his startled gaze with a cold smile.


“Noruk,” he addressed his companion. “Kill them.”


Takua sprang to his feet as pandemonium ensued. The Kryll lunged at the workers, cutting them down swiftly as Matoran screamed and ran for the exits. Takua sprinted for the staircase as Krosis barreled after him, retrieving his sword from the table as he passed it.


Skipping two steps at a time, Takua climbed the stairs and soon found himself facing a long hallway. He ran down it, passing numbered rooms as he went. Ten, eleven, twelve... he could hear Krosis’ heavy steps, climbing the stairs behind him, but he didn’t dare stop and turn around. Finally he reached room nineteen and banged on the door with his fists. Aya opened it and pulled him in, locking it behind him.


“What happened? It sounds like chaos down there!” Kokani said as Takua bent over to catch his breath. The room was small, only built for one or two Matoran to sleep in.


“Krosis found me hiding under a table. I don’t think he saw me come in here though.”


Kokani got up off the bed and started assembling his bladed staff from the pieces he pulled out of his pack. "Ready your weapons,” he ordered. “We’re going to need them.”


A loud crack sounded from down the hallway, followed by Matoran screams and snarls from Kryll. Kokani halted at the door, and a few seconds later, as the sounds repeated, only closer. "They're searching every room for us," he concluded. "We have to go while there's still time!"




Something smashed against their door from the outside; the Kryll had found them. Digging his heels, Kokani braced himself against the door, just a second before another crack sounded. The wood around the lock started to splinter, and Aya rushed forward, throwing her weight against the wood, doing her best to help Kokani hold it.


“What are we going to do!?” Raipu yelled, a hint of panic in his voice. “There's no other way out!”


Crack! The door strained as Kokani and Aya were pushed back.


"I told you to ready your weapons!"


Another body slammed against the door from the outside, and fissures spread form the door's hinges. "We know you're in there, Matoran!" The Kryll yelled, muffled from behind the heavy oak. "Come out and everything will be easier!"


"Not unless you plan on buying us drinks!" Aya yelled back.


Crash! The door burst off its hinges and the Kryll forced their way into the room. Aya and Kokani fell to the floor, trampled under the fallen door. Takua hugged the far wall and drew his dagger, readying himself for the King of the Kryll, but instead it was Noruk and two others that entered.


Noruk paused for a moment to smirk. “Hiding like a rat, just as I figured!”


The other two Kryll lunged at Takua, but Kokani grabbed their ankles, and they tumbled face first into the floor. The Ko-Matoran sprung up in front of Noruk, who struck out with his clawed fists. Kokani took both blows to the chest, knocking him back into the wall, but giving Aya enough time to get to her feet and launch her own assault. The bronze Kryll whirled around just in time to parry her blade, but wasn’t fast enough to avoid Kokani as he lunged from behind, grabbing the Kryll’s arms and locking his hands behind its neck. With a grunt he slammed Noruk into the wall, bloodying his mandibles and stunning him for a few precious moments.


“Go!” Kokani pushed Takua over the two Kryll on the ground and out the door. Raipu and Jaka quickly followed.


As he stumbled into the long hallway, Takua swiveled around to see another warrior standing above him. It wielded a club, and it was all he could do to put up his arms in defense as the weapon smashed into his arms and head. He fell to the ground, seeing spots as everything went dark and fuzzy. His forearms throbbed, but he could still move them. He groped the top of his head, hoping for only a large bump, but soon a trickle of blood made its way into his vision.


Trying to right himself, he heard a few thumps and then a crash, and blurry figures moved all around him. In a second it was over, and he felt hands on him.


“Come on, Takua!”


Jaka and Raipu were pulling him up now, and the hallway seemed to spin. He turned around to see the Kryll who had clubbed him lying on the ground unconscious, and he was thankful for his friends. His vision starting to clear again, they ran down the hallway and found themselves on the balcony that wrapped around the main dining room. They turned the corner, making their way to a set of stairs on the other side of the room, when Takua stopped suddenly.


Krosis and two other Kryll stood at the top of the stairs, blocking their escape, all of them almost twice Takua’s size. He met Krosis' gaze, the Kryll just barely smirking at him.


“I’m going to have to ask you to come with me, Takua.” Krosis' voice was calm, almost polite, but Takua knew that nothing civil was about to happen.


“You’re going to have to go through me first!” Jaka said, stepping in front of Takua and pointing his dagger at the Kryll.


Krosis chuckled. It was a deep, intimidating sound “Well...that can be arranged, if you wish.”


The two Kryll behind him advanced, and Jaka swallowed hard as their heavy footsteps came towards him. Slowly, he, Takua and Raipu backed up. There was no way they could win this fight.


“Jaka, don’t hurt yourself,” Aya said quietly as she and Kokani pushed past the Le-Matoran. His eyes lit up at their arrival. They both had suffered cuts and bruises, but they seemed to be in good shape.


Kokani cracked his neck as he gripped his staff. His blade pointed toward the Kryll, dripping with blood. “Let’s get this over with.”


Wasting no time, the Kryll ran at them, and Aya drew her short, one-handed sword and slashed at the first Kryll. It blocked the attack with a spiked greave it wore around its forearm and wrenched its arm back, locking Aya's blade as it sent her crashing into the far wall with a kick to the stomach. At the same time Kokani slid to the side as he dodged the other warrior’s blade, and moved again as the Kryll struck out with its fist. Its claw ripped through the wall behind him, and the kryll struggled to move its arm, suddenly finding its arm stuck. Angered, it lashed out with its blade. Kokani parried and promptly freed the kryll from the wall with a kick. The Kryll fell back on top of Aya, who whirled around just in time to catch it with the tip of her blade. There was a nauseating crunch as her steel pierced the Kryll’s armor and poked out the other side. She pulled her sword free, and the Kryll sank to the ground, dead.


The other one roared in anger, slashing at her from behind, but the Ga-matoran quickly locked blades with it. She pushed, trying to overpower it, but it was obviously stronger, and began to gain the upper hand. Steadily it pushed her to the ground, and as Kokani rushed to her aid, Krosis joined the fight and slammed the Ko-Matoran into the wall.


Takua wiped the blood from his eyes as he gripped his dagger. He wanted to help, but his head was still a bit fuzzy, and he feared he would only get in the way.


“We have to find another way out,” he told Jaka as he started to turn around. “There’s another staircase over—”


Strong arms clamped around him and he was lifted into the air by his throat. Noruk stood in front of him, his mandibles still bleeding as he spoke. “Surprise.”


Startled, Jaka and Raipu yelled out, ready to run at the kryll, but Noruk squeezed Takua tighter.


“You come any closer and your friend dies.”


More blood dripped into Takua’s eyes as he struggled to breathe. Noruk stared at him, made even more menacing from his wounds. Takua groped at the Kryll’s wrist, trying to free himself, but he wasn’t strong enough, and Noruk only squeezed him tighter.


“You and your friends killed my brother, Takua,” Noruk’s emerald eyes stared into Takua's as he gasped for air. The Kryll smiled, clicking his mandibles excitedly at Takua's pain. “I will have my revenge.”


His vision started to wane, Takua caught a glimpse of the Kryll's belt. Acting as fast as he could, he clamped his fingers around one of the metal cylinder at Noruk's waist, and slammed it against the Kryll’s head. Noruk dropped him as he stumbled, and the cylinder clattered to the floor between Takua and Raipu. A small red light its top flashed, and the object let out a small, high-pitched beep every second or so. Takua stared at it as he caught his breath, and Noruk’s eyes widened as he regained his footing. Without any warning, the Kryll turned, and ran.


A bit taken aback, Takua looked after him. “Where’s he going?”




Kokani slammed into him just as the cylinder exploded. The balcony was shattered, and everyone upon it was thrown into the air. Wood and plaster rained down as smoke and some sort of grey-green gas filled the area. Takua hit the blue carpet of the dining room with a thud and almost blacked out. 


He coughed, wiping blood from his eyes as he struggled to get up. Shaking off dust and debris, he looked around, confused. His sight was blurry and his ears were ringing. All around him he could hear people yelling through the smoke, but he couldn't make anything out. His head throbbed.


"Takua!" His hearing came back to him and he turned to see Jaka leaning over him. "Takua! Can you hear me?"


"Yeah," he sat up and covered his mouth with his palm to cough. He glanced at his hand, and looked at Jaka.




Takua showed him his palm, and it was covered in blood. Turning over, he faced the ground as he went into a coughing fit, and more blood splattered the floor.


“Mata Nui,” Jaka said, looking at the gas that was quickly filling up the room. “It’s poison!”


Takua nodded as he coughed again. Through the gas he could make out Aya leaning over Raipu, who was still on the ground. He checked himself for the Atouri and his dagger, then grabbed Jaka's hand and pulled himself up.


"Raipu," Aya said as Takua and Jaka came into earshot. "Raipu, come on, you're all right. Come on, wake up!"


Takua looked at the Po-Matoran and remembered that after Kokani pushed him out of the way, Raipu had been closest to the metal cylinder. Raipu had taken the full force of the blast.


“Raipu, please!” Aya yelled.  


An overwhelming sense of guilt came upon Takua. If it wasn’t for Kokani, this would have been him. This should have been him.




The Po-Matoran didn’t open his eyes.



Edited by ZOMBI3S







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Chapter 3 - Decisions and Distrust



“Search the forest!” Noruk yelled, “I want them alive!”

The bronze armored Kryll gazed out into the dark trees, his back to The Great Takea. The explosive had blown a hole in the building’s back wall, and Matoran scurried about, trying to put out fires before the entire structure was engulfed in flames. But Noruk didn’t care. Two of his warriors were dead, cut down by Kokani and Aya, and so far he had nothing to show for it. He clicked his mandibles in frustration. In the confusion after the blast, the Matoran had managed to escape.


He heard Krosis’ footsteps approaching behind him, but he didn't turn around to greet his superior. it was silent for a second before Krosis' deep voice sounded.


“Let them run, Noruk,” the King of the Kryll said. “There will be another time."


“You would let them get away!?” Noruk whirled around, fire in his eyes. “They killed my brother, Krosis! They killed Nilum!”


“Both you and Nilum were eager for blood. I warned you about Kokani. He’s no ordinary Matoran.” He turned to look at The Great Takea. “The gas is dispersing. Come, help me find the bodies of our fallen comrades.”


Noruk fumed, disagreeing with his orders. “You’re afraid of him!” He spat. “That’s why you won’t chase them down!”


Krosis was still for only a second, but then there was a whirl of golden armor, and in the blink of an eye Noruk was on the ground, with Krosis’ blade at his throat. Instantly, he froze.


Krosis stared into Noruk's eyes, letting his steel make its point before speaking. “I fear no being of this earth. Not Rahi, not Matoran, not Toa, and especially not you.” He paused, letting his words sink in. “I have done things that would make you shudder; I have seen the Void and returned. You would do well to never again question my power, or strength of will.”


Noruk twitched, still in a bit of shock, and everything seemed to stand still for a moment. His superior was much faster and much stronger than he expected. “I understand.”


“Good.” Krosis sheathed his blade, letting go of the Kryll. “You are a brave warrior, Noruk, and I like you. But you never think before you act."


Humbled, Noruk pushed himself back to his feet. He bowed his head, showing respect without responding.


Krosis seemed to accept the gesture, as he turned around and walked back toward the burning inn. "And besides," he spoke up again. "We have more important matters to attend to.”


Noruk nodded. It was true; finding the Atouri would have to wait. Drumming his claws on one of the explosives still attached to his belt, he thought about what was to come. A couple dozen feet away, a Matoran staggered to the ground, clutching his throat as he choked on blood. A victim of the poison; he wouldn’t last long. Calmly, he turned around to follow Krosis. This was only the beginning.





Takua splashed the cool water on his mask, cleaning the blood and dirt from it. The small pool was surrounded by trees and bamboo, and provided enough cover for them to rest for the night. Everyone sat on its banks, nursing their wounds as the full moon shone above them, reflecting off the water.


Cupping his hands, he drank some, trying to sooth his throat. It tingled going down, and he was thankful that the fiery pain he’d felt at first was finally subsiding. He didn’t know what the poison was that Noruk had worn around his belt, but it worried him. If they could poison the very air, what else were the Kryll capable of?


He stared at his reflection in the pool and sighed. It’d been a while since he’d seen himself, and to be honest, he didn’t look very good. His Pakari was covered in scratches and dings, and his light green eyes had bags under them. He looked down to his side, where the Muaka in Ko-Wahi had left him with three long scars that wrapped from his hip to his bottom rib.


It will make for a good story though…


He leaned over to get a better look at his mask, and something caught his attention. There, in the corner of his Pakari was a tiny spot of discoloring. He poked at it with his finger.




As fast as he could he scraped it away and washed his mask thoroughly. How could he have been so careless? How embarrassing would it be if someone saw that? Quietly, he swore to take better care of his Kanohi from now on. That should never happen.


“Hey,” he heard Aya call out. “I think he’s waking up!”


Takua hurried over to where Raipu lay on the ground. The Po-Matoran was alive, but barely. The armor on his left side had been shattered, starting at his ankle and ending just below his chest. His wounds had been cleaned and wrapped. Aya had taken good care of him.


Raipu opened his eyes and clutched his throat. “Water….” His voice was hoarse and quiet.


“Here, drink this.” Aya handed him a cup of sludge that Kokani had made from various herbs. “It’ll make you feel better.”


“Hey Raipu, how are you doing?” Takua asked.


Raipu sipped from the cup hesitantly and looked at Takua. “I feel…strange.”


“You’ll be alright.” Aya said. “You just need to rest.”


He looked down at his body and his eyes widened. His Hau, normally proud and strong, was struck with fear as it paled. “What happened? I can’t move my leg!” The bandages around his thigh and stomach began to stain red.


Aya shushed him and pushed the cup to his lips. “Just drink it Raipu, you’ll feel better.”


His fingers shaking, Raipu gulped down the brew. Aya took it away from him and he looked at Takua, his eyes wide and twitching. “I…I’m scared.”


“We’re here for you.” Takua managed to smile as he put his hand on the Po-Matoran’s shoulder.


Raipu’s eyes rolled back in his head, and his body went limp as he fell asleep. Aya looked at Takua and forced a smile. “Kokani sure knows how to make a drink, doesn’t he?”


Takua nodded at her attempt to lighten the mood, and the two of them made their way around the pool to where Kokani and Jaka sat in silence.


“How is he?” Kokani asked, not looking up from where he sat against a tree trunk.


Aya sighed. “Not good. He needs a healer. I can only do so much.”


“What’re we going to do?” Jaka asked.


There was silence for a few moments, until Kokani finally answered. “We continue to Ga-Koro.”


“That’s way too far!” Aya let out. “There’s no way he’ll last that long.”


Kokani paused before he answered. “I know.”


“You would leave him here?”


“None of the Koro are close enough; no matter what we do he’s going to die.”


“What about Po-Koro?” Jaka pulled out a map and pointed at it, just north of where they were now. “If we travel fast we can get there in a few days. Raipu’s strong, he’ll make it!”


“He can’t walk,” Kokani retorted. “We’d have to carry him through the Motara desert. We’d be lucky if we didn’t all perish.”


“But there’s a chance!”


“That desert is huge. Matoran only cross it in caravans with Rahi. Assuming we don’t get lost in those dunes, we still don’t have the supplies to make the journey. We’d be marching to our graves.”


“And we’ll be sending Raipu to his if we leave him!” Jaka retorted.


“I don’t like it any more than you do. But we have no choice.”


Takua looked at Kokani with disgust. He’d stayed quiet until now, but he couldn’t believe he was going to give up on Raipu so easily. Illum’s words flooded into Takua’s head, and once again he questioned the Ko-Matoran’s intentions. Leaving Raipu was a cold-hearted thing to do, and he wouldn’t stand for it.


“We’re going to Po-Koro.” Takua said, standing up. “I’ll carry Raipu myself if I have to, but I’m not going to give up on him.” He looked at Kokani, his face stern. “Go to Ga-Koro if you want, but I’m taking the Atouri with me.”


Kokani’s mask was emotionless, but his eyes locked with Takua’s, and the Le-Matoran saw a hint of a raging fire within them. His jaw clenched and his hands balled into fists, but through his subtle, threatening body language, Takua stared right back, unmoving.


Not this time, Takua thought.


No one spoke for a moment, and eventually Kokani looked back at the pool. His body relaxed.


“So be it,” he said.


Without a word, Takua turned around and walked to the other side of the pool, where he laid out his sleeping pad a couple feet away from Raipu. He looked up at the sky and saw the red star, shining in the east above the tall stalks of bamboo. Crickets chirped quietly as he gazed at the red ball of light, lost in his own thoughts. He knew he shouldn’t get on Kokani’s bad side, but this was something he had to do. The Atouri and the prophesy could wait. The return of the Toa could wait, and so could the coming of The Seventh. His friend was dying, and he knew if he ever found that wasn’t his first priority, he’d lost his way.


At least, that’s what Talim would have told him in this situation.


He looked down at the Atouri, glimmering in the moonlight. He traced its edges with his finger and sighed. Even Talim would have to wait.

Edited by ZOMBI3S







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Chapter 4 - A Terrible Discovery



Broad leaves whipped past Takua’s mask as he ran through the field. The Hapaka barked and howled behind him as he ran after Jaka and Aya, trying not to lose them in the dense filage. Kokani ran a couple steps behind, carrying Raipu on his shoulders. With a grunt, Takua jumped down a terrace, landing onto a patch of hard dirt before taking off again.


They had stumbled into the farmer’s field earlier that morning, and hadn’t thought much of it until the farmer set his Hapaka on them for trespassing. Takua wasn’t sure how many of the dog-Rahi were after them, but judging by the sounds there were at least five, and he knew that they couldn’t risk any injuries from the beasts.


Pushing past a large tree, he followed Aya and Jaka into the sparse forest at the edge of the field. Kokani’s feet crunched on the sandy soil behind him, and he chanced a look backward. The Hapaka were still barking, invisible within the cover of the field, and Kokani’s white armor glistened with sweat. The air here was hotter and drier than it was back near the village, and it seemed to be taking its toll on the Ko-Matoran. Raipu dangled unconscious around his shoulders, as Kokani had given him another dose of his herbal sludge, to save him from pain.


Takua slowed to a stop next to Jaka and Aya, listening as he caught his breath. The Hapaka’s barks were farther away now; it seemed they had stopped chasing them at the edge of the field. Kokani trotted up, gently placing Raipu on the ground as he groped for his canteen. Takua took a swig from his gourd, letting the cool water sooth his throat.


“Everybody alright?” he asked, wiping the sweat from his brow.


They nodded, and he took a moment to look at their surroundings. The  watery bamboo forest had dwindled away, leaving only palms, hardy reeds, and scrub grasses. The earth and the air were dry, and the leaves of the trees rustled with warm breezes. Such was the very edge of Po-Wahi.


“Hey, do you hear that?” Jaka asked no one in particular. He gazed toward a patch of palms to their left, curiously.


Takua closed his eyes and put a hand to his ear. Sure enough, he heard noises. A wide variety of chatter, metal clangs, and scrapes made their way to his ears, and he opened his eyes to look at Kokani. The Ko-Matoran hadn’t spoken a word to him since he had forced the decision to travel to Po-Koro, but that didn’t necessarily mean that Kokani was bitter. He had come with them, after all.


Kokani furrowed his brow, listening for a minute more before he looked back at Takua. “Come with me,” he said. Then, pointing to Jaka and Aya, “You two, stay with Raipu.”


Takua did as Kokani asked, and the two pushed their way into the thicket of palms and scrub grass. Stepping on dead leaves, Kokani held up his hand, and Takua made sure to tread as quietly as he could. They continued through the foliage until it began to thin out again, and Kokani sniffed the air.


Smoke… Takua thought as he did the same. Not the smoke of a campfire, though. This was...a heavy kind of smoke. The smoke of a forge, the smoke of smelting metal. Silently, Kokani parted the tall grass in front of them. Takua craned his neck, looking through the opening, and gasped.


There, carved out of the barren earth was the entrance to a giant cavern. The smoke of a hundred forges spilled out of it, and hundreds of Kryll pounded away at anvils, pouring molten metal into the shape of swords, axes, arrows, and pikes. Giant logs lay at the cave entrance, waiting to be cut and added to siege machines, and other instruments of war. Takua swallowed hard as he looked closer. Sure enough, just inside the cave entrance were thousands of little metal cylinders, and he knew that each one of them contained a grey-green gas with the capacity to poison the very air.




Takua grabbed the Atouri as he felt the heartbeat in the back of his mind. The Kryll were preparing for war.


“We have to get out of here.” Kokani was backing up, a stern look on his face. “We have to leave, right now.”


Takua hesitated for a second, trying to take in more details of the scene, but the Ko-Matoran pulled him away, shoving him in the direction they had come from. They ran back to Jaka and Aya as fast as they could.


“What’s going on?” Jaka asked as they burst through the palm leaves.


“Hide!” Kokani hissed.


Without question they picked up their supplies and headed for a small ditch, surrounded by scrub grass. Takua and Jaka picked up Raipu, carefully laying him deep within the foliage. They only took only a second to crouch as low as they could, concealing themselves from the outside world. Then, they were silent.


Minutes passed by, and nothing happened. Takua started to doubt that anything was coming, but a moment later he heard footsteps. They clanked with the sound of heavy armor, drawing nearer and nearer. A cool breeze flew over him, and Takua felt his skin prickle with goose bumps. He dared to part the weeds, just enough to catch a glimpse of the figure that approached.


Even in this arid place, the sight of the being chilled him. It wore a cloak with a hood that shrouded its face, but he could see two black armored feet below the swaying fringe of the fabric. Takua’s spine tingled as the being turned his way, and he caught a glimpse of a black mask, one that he knew all too well.


Saku. He slid deeper into the ditch as he clutched the Atouri. It was the first time he’d laid eyes on the Toa since their encounter in Ko-Wahi, and conflicting emotions ran through him. He hated the Toa. It was him that had taken Talim away in the first place, but then he had offered to trade her, peacefully, for the stone. Takua knew Saku could’ve overpowered him and taken the Atouri at any time, so why had he done that? Why had he stretched out his hand, in what had seemed to be an offer of peace?


Takua closed his eyes and forced himself to breathe lightly, and slowly. Even as he tried to sort out the feelings of anger, confusion, and longing that flew through his head, he was certain of one thing: he feared the Toa of Shadow. In his mind, this being still haunted his dreams.


There was the sound of scraping armor as Saku looked around, scanning the area with his orange eyes. His gaze slowly passed over the hiding Matoran, only stopping when the Toa turned around at the sound of rustling leaves behind him. Quietly, the broad shape of a Kryll appeared. Takua slid even farther into the ditch as he recognized its gold armor, and red war paint.


“What did you see, Saku?” Krosis spoke, addressing the Toa as an equal.


“...Perhaps nothing." Saku took one last look at the grasses before continuing. "But I felt Makuta. He...called out to me.”


Krosis let out a small chuckle. “Your shadows seem to have fooled your own senses.” Saku did not reply, and instead continued to  scan the area. Krosis shrugged and spoke again. “Come, let us rest. We will need our strength. Tomorrow at dawn, we march.”


“Are your warriors ready?” Saku asked.


“The Matoran have oppressed my people for far too long.” Krosis smiled and his mandibles twitched. “They are more than ready.”


“And the gas?”


“Enough to poison all of Po-Koro.”


“Good.” Saku walked past the Kryll, and back into the forest. “The desert awaits us.”


Krosis turned to follow him, but paused and looked over his shoulder for a second. His beady eyes glanced over to Takua's patch of grass, hovering for only a second. Takua froze, a quick shiver pulsing down his body. He held his breath, afraid he'd been spotted...but Krosis turned again, and disappeared into the foliage.


He looked over at Jaka and Aya, and then to Kokani, processing what they had heard. They waited in silence until it was safe to come out of the grass, but even then no one spoke. Everyone knew what they had to do; they had to leave. They had to put as much distance between them and the Kryll as possible, and get to Po-Koro before they did. No one knew if the City of Stone had any knowledge of the incoming attack, but if they didn't, someone had to warn them.


And so it was that the five Matoran entered the Motara desert. The palms and grasses dwindled away, and the soil was overcome with sand. Dunes rose up around them like waves on the ocean, shifting ever so slowly with the hot desert winds. The mountains gradually shrank behind them, and not a cloud was to be seen in the sky. Always, the sun beat its rays upon them, and there was nothing but the curves of the dunes to offer them shade.


Walking grew increasingly difficult, for every step Takua took, he sank a few inches into the sand. They moved as fast as they could, but even with everyone taking turns carrying Raipu, their progress was mind-numbingly slow. With no plant life around, Kokani couldn’t replenish his herbs, and Raipu eventually awoke from his sleep. But he was still powerless to move himself, and he stared at the sand over the shoulders of whoever carried him, lost in his own thoughts as he dealt quietly with his pain.


As evening fell, the sun began to cast its colors all over the sky. Soon, the moon rose, the stars came out, and the desert grew cold, but Kokani made no move to stop. Takua was almost sure he planned on walking through the night, and as exhausted as he was, he knew they didn't have the luxury of rest. As it was his turn, Takua adjusted Raipu on his back and forced himself to carry on.


The moon made its way across the sky, and Takua noticed that the stars were slightly different here than in back in Le-Koro. Here, he didn't recognize some of the constellations. Only the red star remained constant, burning bright in the east.


Takua continued to trudge through the sand, growing wearier with every step, until they reached the bottom of a rather large dune, when suddenly he couldn’t move anymore. His legs buckled and he sank to his knees. Laying Raipu on the ground beside him. He took a swig from his gourd and sat there, breathing heavily as his legs burned.


Kokani stopped walking and looked around. Ahead of them they could see a few canyons and cliffs, and behind them they could see the mountains, just barely poking above horizon. Everything else was sand. The Ko-Matoran gazed forward, as if searching for something, but eventually he dropped his pack and sighed.


“We probably could use some rest.”


Aya and Jaka instantly sat down, throwing off their packs as they did. After a few moments of glorious rest, they turned their attention to Raipu, who hadn't moved from where Takua had lain him. The Po-Matoran was silent, staring at the ground through clouded eyes. His bandages were stained red, and he seemed to be mumbling to himself.


Takua offered to help Aya change his wrappings, and she graciously accepted. She unwrapped the Po-Matoran’s leg and handed the dark red bandages to Takua to bury. As he was doing so, a slight breeze came upon them, showering the group with sand from the top of a dune.


Raipu’s cloudy eyes suddenly became alert as he cried out. “Mata Nui…” he mumbled to himself. “Mata Nui…”


Aya cursed. “Takua give me your water. We need to get the sand out of his wound.”


Takua handed her his gourd and watched as Aya carefully trickled water over Raipu's mutilated side. The Po-Matoran clenched his teeth and winced, as if he were fighting off the urge to scream. When she was finished, she once again wrapped his leg with the last of the bandages from her pack.


“Raipu, don’t worry.” Takua said to him. “We’re going to get you to Po-Koro, and everything’s going to be alright.”


Raipu turned his head, reflecting the moonlight off his Hau, and Takua noticed something. He leaned in closer, examining his mask. The edges of Raipu’s Hau were rusted, forming pits in the worst places, and Takua remembered the small patch of rust he had found on his own Kanohi the other night. Suddenly, it clicked, and he had to stop himself from shuddering. The grey-green gas the Kryll’s explosives were laced with...it wasn’t just any poison.


Takua stared at Raipu as he quietly murmured to himself and coughed. He’d never seen it before, he knew enough to recognize it. It was something one heard about around campfires, something that the elders of Le-Koro would use to scare the youth and keep them in line. It was something that no one had seen in an age, but something that everyone secretly feared.


Raipu was infected with the Madness.

Edited by ZOMBI3S







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