Po-Wahi is a dry, arid land of sand and stone. At first, I think there is no one at the dock to greet me. But as I look around, I notice a solitary merchant and his wares.
“Eh? What’s that?” he asks. “Sorry. Don’t get too many travelers around Po-Wahi these days. What can I do for you? Need a boat? Information? Or a souvenir, maybe?”
Hopeful to get some tips about the local culture, I ask “What is Po-Wahi?”
“Po-Wahi is… well, there’s not much to it, really, mostly sand… lots of sand. But there are the canyons, which are real pretty to look at, if the sun or the Rahi don’t get you first… and the Path of Prophecies, which the ancient carvers made.
“Po-Koro’s a decent place, too, and don’t miss the games. Most everyone around Mata Nui turns up to see a Koli match, when they’re on. Haven’t been too many visitors lately, though.”
I thank the merchant for his assistance and set out on foot, following the stone path laid before me. “Stay outta the sun!” he calls out to me as I leave.
I soon come to a fork in the road and must choose my path. The writing is becoming more familiar to me now. Is my memory returning? Yes or no, I choose the path to the left, certain that it will take me to Po-Koro.
The path is long and monotonous, but eventually I come to another fork in the road. A stone carver is here, hard at work. As I admire his work, he speaks to me.
“Hot enough for ya?” he asks. “Another Hafu original…” he says as he gestures toward his work. “Wow… Sometimes I impress myself! Can you guess what it is yet?”
I can’t, so I shake my head “No.”
He seems to sense that I am not here for idle chit-chat. “If you’re looking for Po-Koro, traveler, take the right road. My right. Or is it your right?”
I thank him for the help, such as it is, and head out along the path to the right. My right. And soon, I see it.
A marvelous stone gate stands before me. The path is overlooked by six magnificent, enormous stone faces. I wonder if these are also the work of Hafu, the stone carver with whom I just spoke?
I walk through the gate and into the middle of a thriving marketplace. The sounds of animals and bartering fill the air. I speak with a nearby merchant.
“Hello, stranger! Are you looking for a good Koli ball? Let me recommend the Comet, our most popular model.”
“What is a Koli ball?” I ask.
“Why, Koli balls are for playing Koli, of course,” he replies. “You’d want a Comet – our most popular model. Trading for two Husi Pecking Birds, or the equivalent.”
I ask him, “Where do you get your Koli balls?”
“Well, now, that’s privileged information, my friend. Let’s just say I have a secret source…” “How do I buy a Koli ball?” I wonder aloud
“We trade here, like in the rest of the bazaar,” he answers. “If you’ve got something worth trading, I’ll give you a Koli ball for it!”
I don’t have anything to trade, so I tell him goodbye.
“Come back anytime… Our Comet balls are the best in Mata Nui. Everyone wants one! Don’t be the only Matoran in Po-Koro without a Comet!”
I see a hut with an open door to my left. I hear someone carving stone within it. I decide to enter the hut. The tall figure within greets me.
“Hail, adventurer! You have come at an unhappy time in Po-Koro, I fear. I am about to announce to my people the news that the next Koli match will have to be cancelled. I do not think even great Pohatu could play Koli at a time like this.”
“Who are you?” I ask.
“I am Onewa, Turaga of the village of Po-Koro,” he replies. “The Matoran here are master carvers, and their work is the envy of all Mata Nui. But today I am not carving works of art. Instead, I am fashioning beds.
“I am struggling to bring comfort to the sick people of this village, but it is a fleeting solace. We know nothing of this illness, how long it might last, or where it comes from. Left unattended, I fear the Madness…”
He does not finish his sentence. Curious, I ask why he is canceling the Koli match.
“A dark plague has corrupted my people and my village. Though many still stay at their work, and visit the bazaar, and play Koli, they have blinded themselves to the truth, and put strength and duty before fear.
“Huki, our greatest Koli champion, was one of the first to fall ill. He has become weakened, and cannot move from his bed. I fear that soon we will see in him the beginnings of the Madness, the same diabolical force that grips the wild Rahi when their masks become infected.”
If Huki is their greatest Koli champion, I wonder, who then is Pohatu? I decide to ask.
“Pohatu is the Toa of the Po-Koro Matoran,” Onewa tells me. “His great strength can fell mountains, and the Kanohi Kakama gives him speed greater than any creature on Mata Nui.
“The irony is that Pohatu’s strength and speed cannot help us. An enemy that can neither be seen, nor felt plagues us.
“Vakama, of Ta-Koro, has sent some of his Guard to assist us, but they will not enter the village for fear of falling prey to this disease. Instead, they are combing the hills in search of Pohatu, who is on a grave quest for the Masks of Power. But without knowing even where this illness comes from, there is little anyone can do… even the great Pohatu.
“I am distracted by many of Po-Koro’s problems, adventurer, and I can give you little of my time. Do you think you can give me some clue about how to cure this illness?”
I cannot, so I tell Onewa goodbye.
“I wish you the speed of Pohatu, adventurer,” he says as I depart. He then returns to his sorrowful task of carving beds for the ill.
Curious, I head down to look at the Koli field. There I meet someone playing with a Koli ball. He greets me with a vigorous “Hup! Hup! Hup!
“Are you here for a Koli match?” he asks. “I sure could use some more teammates to play with. All the others have gone home. They’re not feeling well. Not even Huki can play anymore. And I just got a new Comet! Traded two Husi for it.”
I would like to learn more about the game, so I ask, “What is Koli?”
“What is Koli?” he repeats incredulously. “You must not be from around here! Koli is the greatest sport on Mata Nui. It’s incredibly simple, but takes much more skill than the sports they play in other villages!
“Koli is played in a Koli field. You’re standing in the biggest one in Po-Wahi, but they don’t have to be as fancy as this. All you need is four goals, set up on each side of a square. There are four players.
“Each of the goals has a Matoran to guard it. To win, you have to kick Koli balls – like this one – into any of the other three goals, while at the same time stopping other players from getting their balls into your goal. That’s it!”
Remembering he has a new one, I ask, “What is a Comet?”
“A Comet is the best kind of Koli ball you can get,” he says. “Everyone is getting one of these now. They’re perfectly balanced, so it’s very hard to miss, and when you kick them, they fly as fast as a comet! They only started trading them recently at the bazaar. I don’t know where they get them, but whoever carved them is truly a master.”
Eager to learn more about him, I ask, “Who is Huki?”
“Who is Huki! Why, only the greatest Koli player, ever. At least… he was. He fell ill a little while ago, and I haven’t seen him around much. He lives just on the other side of the Koli field.”
Now that I know where Huki lives, I feel the pressing need to deliver the message that Maku is all right. Perhaps it will make him feel better somewhat. I say my goodbye to the stranger at the Koli field, but as I leave, I hear him:
“Hup! Hup! *cough*”
Is he too coming down with this mysterious illness? I see what must be Huki’s hut as I leave the Koli field. It is marked with an ‘X’ so all may know that the inhabitant within is sick. As I move toward the hut, I pass a lone spectator in the stands, still hopeful that the Koli match will go on.
I enter the hut and find Huki within. He is very ill, but shouts at me with great force: “Stay away from me!” And then he continues, much weaker now, “I just want to be left alone.” Perhaps this is not Huki after all, I think.
I decide that it is better to ask and be certain. “Who are you?”
“I am… Huki…” he replies. The words come with much difficulty.
“Why are you sick?” I ask.
“I don’t know…” he says with difficulty. “I have been here for – how many days? I’m not sure anymore… I used to know.
“You must go. I feel… strange. No one must come here, especially Maku. Do not tell her I am ill, it will worry her… she must not see me like this, she must not…”
Unable to take any more of this conversation, Huki yells “Get out!” I can do nothing more than oblige him.
I decide to check once more on the stranger on the Koli field, but I notice that he is gone. He has left behind his Comet! I resolve to find him and take it to him, but as I go to pick it up, a mysterious substance seems to ooze out from within it and coat the ball.
What can this mean? I decide to take the ball to Onewa to see if he knows. At first, he is puzzled.
“What? But this is just a Koli ball…
“Hm. But not just any Koli ball; this is the special kind that is being traded at the bazaar, and which has become very popular. Thank you, adventurer, for showing this to me. You are as noble as your reputation, and resourceful.
“This opens my eyes to many things. If these balls are the cause of the illness, then we must take them away from the village, and throw them in the sea. But they are very popular and the Po-Koro Matoran value Koli above many things. I cannot take these away from my people unless I have proof that they are the cause.
“However, this is a vital clue. I know that a merchant in the bazaar sells these balls – you must find out from him where these balls come from. But take care. If he is somehow involved in this plot, then he will not want you to find out.
“The evil that visited Ga-Koro across the waves has come, it seems, to our ocean of sand. I fear the shadow of the Makuta has been cast across Po-Koro. I know that the source of this evil must be found or all may be lost.
“If Vakama’s Guard can find the Toa, I will suggest to Pohatu that he seek you out, and together I hope you can do what is necessary. Would that the sick did not need me, or I would come to assist you on your quest.
“Perhaps there is some information that I can provide you with that will help you unravel this great mystery!” he asks me.
I can think of nothing more to ask Onewa, so I return to the Comet merchant in the marketplace. He is no more willing to tell me where he gets his Koli balls this time than when I asked before. But while he is busy with another customer, I notice a strange object among the Koli balls. I slip it into my bag without his noticing.
Not certain where I am going or what I am looking for, I decide to head back the way I came. I soon see Hafu, still hard at work on his latest masterpiece. I keep to the left and head toward what I think is a quarry.
The quarry is filled with enormous mask carvings. Below each mask is a small hole. Do I hold within my backpack the key to solving this mystery? There is only one way to find out. I place the object I “borrowed” from the Comet merchant into each hole, one by one, until I finally find the one for which it opens a door.
Inside the cave, I discover a pile of Comet Koli balls. They are all infected like the one I gave to Onewa. But I am not alone in the cave. A large, blue scorpion-like Rahi beast has spotted me.
Just then, a tall stranger appears in the cave with me. The scorpion takes aim and strikes him a blinding blow. He appears to be OK, except that he cannot see. He speaks to me.
“Adventurer, the scorpion has blinded me for the moment. It will be some time before my sight returns! Tell me where to kick the ball, and together we can destroy the Nui Jaga’s nest!” The stranger moves with astonishing speed. Although the Nui Jaga knocks away several of our shots, we quickly begin breaking the green columns which constitute the Nui Jaga’s nest. After the last strands have been snapped, the Nui Jaga quickly retreats as the ceiling threatens to collapse upon us.
“Let’s get out of here,” says the stranger. We both turn to flee. I am running as fast as I can, but I can sense that I am not going to make it. The stranger begins to accelerate, and then suddenly we are far outside the cave, looking down upon it as a cloud of dust and stone comes shooting out of its mouth.
“Excellent my friend!” the stranger exclaims. “We make a good team! My sight has returned to me. This was an evil plan, indeed. Onewa was right to call upon me. That was an infected mask set beside the Koli balls… But who left it there, and placed the balls beside it?
“Though Po-Koro will be safe now, we have uncovered an even greater mystery. I fear the Makuta’s influence may extend beyond the Rahi, now…
“I will take this news back to Po-Koro, and help them carry the infected Koli balls into the sea. My Mask of Power will let me to get to the village quick enough, I think, to save even Huki.
“You are a cunning ally, friend, and brave. I hope that we shall meet again, someday.”
And with that, he is gone. I can only conclude that I have encountered the Toa known as Pohatu. I return to Po-Koro as fast as my legs will carry me. I seek out Onewa to tell him what has happened.
“Hail, hero!” cries Onewa. “Pohatu has already been here, and gone. The infected Koli balls have been taken to the sea, and they will bother us no more. The Matoran of my village are recovering from their illness. I’m not certain what became of the merchant who sold those Koli balls, however. He disappeared before Pohatu returned.
“Pohatu has told me of all your adventures. We, like the Ga-Koro Matoran, will long honor your deeds! Nokama was right when she said you would be witness to many important things transpiring throughout our land. She asked me to watch you, and tell her if I also feel this.
“I know now that you are the one her Astrologer has spoken of. Take this Carving Tool, which is the proud symbol of our greatest Carvers. Show it to Nokama and she will give you the Book of Chronicles.
“I trust your travels are going well. I wish you the speed of Pohatu, adventurer.” Before heading back to Ga-Koro, I decide to check on Huki’s progress. The Koli field is now full of Koli players, and fans are crowded round shouting cheers of support.
At Huki’s hut, Huki is now up and about, seemingly bursting with energy.
“I will soon be fit enough to return to Koli, and to Maku,” he tells me. “If you see her in your travels, tell her I am well!”
I agree to do so and immediately head out to do just that.
“Hello again,” Nokama greets me. I show her the Po-Koro chisel.
She gets straight to the point. “Take this book, and attend to it, and travel to the villages. It will store all that you see. If the Toa fail, and Mata Nui is destroyed… this, at least, will remain. And the ocean will keep it safe for us.”
Honored by this task, I say goodbye and turn to leave when she says it: “Good luck, Chronicler.” Chronicler. I now have some identity and purpose to cling to at last.
Not exactly knowing how I am to travel to the villages, nor how many villages there may be, I decide to head back to Po-Wahi by boat. Once there, I plan to head toward the mountain along the stone path I have not yet taken.