A beach. He was standing on a sweeping expanse of sand sloping gently down to the sea.
As he gazed out at the ocean, he saw waves breaking over a coral reef. Beyond that, there was nothing but water stretching to an unbroken horizon.
Where am I? he thought, his mind a haze of memories and dreams. WHO am I?
The word – a name? – floated through his mind. It seemed to fit, to make sense somehow. But little else did.
Tahu shook his head in frustration. Why couldn’t he remember more? How had he come to this place – and why?
He glanced toward the polished canister that had brought him here. Near it he saw several red components lying on the sand. Two turned out to be blades, shaped into the form of leaping red flames. They fitted together into a sword, the handle sitting comfortably in his clawed hand. But when he swung the sword, it felt heavy and awkward.
He scowled. “Useless hunk of metal,” he muttered, jabbing the blade into the sand.
Then he noticed the mask. It stared up at him with gaping eyeholes, its surface catching the sunlight so that it appeared to come alive in his hands. Taking a deep breath, Tahu lifted the mask to his face.
A surge of power coursed through him. Yes! This was more like it!
Tahu grabbed the flame sword and lifted it. This time, to his surprise, the blade was glowing with crimson fire. When he swung the sword, it sizzled through the air, trailing sparks in its wake.
“Yes!” Tahu said with grim satisfaction. “Now we’re getting somewhere.”
But was he? He let the sword fall to his side, overwhelmed by despair. Why was he here? What was he supposed to do now?
“Why – can’t – I – REMEMBER?” he howled, swinging his sword over his head.
A bolt of fiery energy shot forth, erupting into the sky like a volcano. Sparks showered down onto the beach, but Tahu didn’t feel their heat.
Power… I have such power, he thought with wonder. The power of fire. Of heat and flame. But where does it come from? What is it for?
More questions – and still he had no answers. Not knowing made him shake with frustration and rage. It made him want to turn his sword against the earth, the sky, the beach – the very world itself. It was tempting – so tempting. To lose himself in chaos, to strike out with no thought for past, future, or anything else.
Tahu took a deep breath. No. He couldn’t allow himself to give in. Somehow he knew that, just as he’d known his name.
Okay, okay, he told himself. The knowing will come. At least… I hope it will.
The white-sand beach was free of any life save for some curious seabirds. To the south jagged rocks made a crude wall against the ocean, and beyond that, Tahu could sense the heat of lava beds. Drawn to the heat and flame, he turned and walked in that direction.
Only once did he turn around, at the sound of movement behind him. But the being he saw was too small to pose any threat. He kept moving toward what appeared to be a great walled city, sitting in the middle of a lake of molten lava.