The path to Onu-Koro is uneventful. The sands of Po-Wahi slowly give way to the rocks of the mountain. Eventually, I reach the entrance to a tunnel. Two large crab-like creatures are here along with their attendant. He speaks to me.
“Howdy, Traveler. Need a Crab to Onu-Koro? Awful dark in there, but Puku knows the way. I heard there’s another Ussal race coming up. Make sure you catch it if you’re in town.”
“What race?” I ask.
“The Ussal Crabs are strong and loyal,” he begins. “They help us with many things here, from mining to transportation, but mostly racing. I’m usually at the track, but with all the problems these days, there isn’t much time for it.”
“Who is Puku?” I inquire.
“Puku’s a retired racing crab, used to belong to none other than Onepu himself. Took the title three times with him. She’s a bit long in the tooth now, but still fast!”
“What is Onu-Koro?” I wonder aloud.
“Onu-Koro is the great undercity of Onu-Wahi, where the mines sink as deep as Mount Ihu is tall! The wise Whenua rules here.”
Having promised to visit the villages, I resolve to press on to Onu-Koro. A fast companion who knows the way seems like a very good idea to me, even if it is an Ussal Crab, so I quickly befriend Puku and we are off down the long, dark tunnel.
We reach the city quickly. Puku is indeed still fast. There are many huts here in the darkness, lit only by the occasional torch or candle. A guard is posted here at the entrance. He has a large disk strapped to his back. I decide to seek out Whenua.
The first hut I encounter seems to house more Ussal Crabs. Someone is tending to them. “You there! Fetch those saddles!” he shouts to me. “And we need more Discs. Step to it!
“Try to stay out of the way, Traveler. We’re organizing a patrol. With all the lights out in Onu-Koro, the Rahi have stepped up their raids.
“Take care when traveling in the deep mines and tunnels – the Kofo-Jaga can appear at any time. Battling them takes special skill.”
“Who are you?” I ask.
“Onepu, at your service,” he replies. “I am the Captain of the famous Onu-Koronan Ussalry Regiment, Champion of Ussal Racing, and Special Aide of Whenua, our great Turaga.”
I ask him, “What are Kofo-Jaga?”
“They are small creatures,” he begins, “but incredibly fierce and cunning… they attack by surprise, and always in large numbers. They shun bright light and use darkness and fear as weapons.
“Their nests are scattered throughout the Underworld, and woe betide the miner who breaks through to one! Usually, Whenua uses his special drill to detect these nests before they are opened, but he has been busy and the miners have been desperate to find more protodermis veins.”
Worried, I inquire, “How do I battle the Kofo-Jaga?”
“The Regiment depends on its gallant steeds, and a healthy supply of Discs, when fighting the Kofo-Jaga,” Onepu replies. “The darkness gives the Makuta‘s minions strength. It’s good to have a Lightstone with you, if you can find one.”
I thank Onepu for his help and then I tell him goodbye.
“May your Crab ride swift and true!” he says as I exit.
I wander among the huts, wondering which one belongs to Whenua. Finally, I come across a large hut with a shrine in front of it that reminds me of the one I saw in Ta-Koro. Perhaps Whenua is here. I begin to enter the hut, but I discover that there is a meeting taking place within it.
“Turaga,” begins the purple fellow with the large disk strapped to his back, “the mining guilds have hit an underground rock layer that they cannot break through. We fear the protodermis will run out if we cannot continue our digging!”
“How far does it run?” asks the one with the staff that looks like a drill. This must be Whenua speaking.
“Shaft 3 and Shaft 8 have ceased protodermis mining because they cannot break through this rock layer.”
“That’s the entire mining area!” Whenua exclaims.
“Yes, Turaga,” the purple fellow replies. “For all we know, the strata extends beneath all of Mata Nui, except perhaps the Mangai volcano.”
“Are you certain there is no soft spot to dig through, Captain?” asks Whenua.
“We’ve been over every inch of the surface,” replies the Captain. “There are no fractures, no fault lines, nothing!”
Whenua inquires, “How much remains of the surface deposits?”
The Captain looks down at his feet. “They are running out. We may have to look elsewhere for more protodermis. Like Ta-Wahi, or Po-Wahi.”
“What is this layer made out of?” asks Whenua.
“Our prospectors believe it to be rock, but it has higher organic levels than any mineral composite we’ve seen.”
“Organic?” Whenua seems surprised.
“Yes,” the Captain affirms. “It seems to have more in common with an Ussal Crab shell than any normal stone strata.”
“Strange. I wonder what we will find if we break through?” wonders Whenua.
The Captain seems eager to press his point. “Turaga, I must have more men and more machines if we are to know. You must allocate more resources to the mining guilds!”
“Captain, I am doing everything I can,” replies Whenua. “No one wants to see the protodermis run out. But Onu-Koro has many problems right now.”
As if to support Whenua’s statement, one of the other attendees volunteers one of those many problems. “Without a fresh supply of Lightstones, we cannot light the digging site.”
“Have you been able to continue the tunneling at all?” Whenua asks.
“Yes, but we are working at about 25 percent capacity. It is too dark down there to work safely!” complains the miner.
“The Le-Koro Highway must be completed soon,” Whenua insists. “We need safe passage between the villages.”
“Turaga, we cannot ask our workers to continue under these conditions!” exclaims the worker.
“Taipu says he can dig by torchlight, without difficulty,” states Whenua.
“Taipu is very stubborn, and strong,” says the miner. “But he is slow even when he has a team of diggers to help him. One Matoran cannot dig a tunnel to Le-Koro!”
“Foreman,” says Whenua resignedly, “until we can repair the flood damage, there is little I can do.”
“You can give us more Matoran, and more equipment!” pleads the Foreman. “The Guilds and the Traders have extra. We can use those!”
“They do not have extra,” Whenua corrects. “And how would it help if they did?”
“The air is bad because of the torches, and the Rahi attack frequently because of the darkness,” states the Foreman. “If we had more workers, we could alternate teams before they get ill. We could put more guards on duty.”
“Foreman, I understand the problems you are facing,” Whenua commiserates. “I am doing everything in my power to get you the help you need. But you must be patient.”
But a lack of patience is on view everywhere. The third attendee facing Whenua speaks. “Turaga Whenua, I will not tolerate this kind of delay! The Trade Guilds have contracts with four of Po-Koro’s most influential artists.”
“I understand that,” says Whenua, “and I am doing everything I can.”
“Protodermis production is stopped,” complains the tradesman. “Stonemasons are slowed by the darkness. And half the shipments were lost to Rahi attacks!”
“Ta-Koronan torches are being used to light the stone quarries now,” Whenua explains. “Those deliveries will be made.”
“The Kofo-Jaga are not afraid of torchlight,” the tradesman insists. “And what of the protodermis? The Po-Koronans cannot trade stone for nothing!”
Whenua continues, “The Mine Captains are working to break through this rock layer. Until then there is little we can do.”
“They make goods from the protodermis. Without it they cannot trade for stone! We will lose that market.” The tradesman is clearly concerned.
Whenua is less so. “There are other markets,” he says.
The tradesman presses on. “And what of the Le-Koro highway? It was to be finished months ago. My caravans refuse to travel to the south until it is complete!”
“The Le-Koronans will have to come trade at our market until it is finished,” offers Whenua.
“They try, Turaga!” exclaims the tradesman. He is now quite agitated. “But they can no more come north than we can go south!”
“Perhaps the sea is a better route,” ponders Whenua.
“There are even more dangerous Rahi in the waters than on land!” the tradesman complains. “What of Onua? Is he doing nothing to help Onu-Koro?”
“Onua did not descend from the heavens to help your profits, Guildmaster.” It is Whenua who is agitated now. “He is pursuing a great quest that may yet save us all.”
The Guildmaster will not be dissuaded. “I demand that more attention be paid to the needs of the Trade Guilds! The Great Market is Onu-Koro’s most valuable asset!”
“Guildmaster,” begins Whenua wearily, “I will speak with Onepu. Perhaps he can spare an escort for your caravans until the Highway is complete.”
Whenua clearly has no time for me, and I have no more time to listen to the many complaints of the people of Onu-Koro. I decide that perhaps I had best be going.
Beyond Whenua’s hut is another tunnel. Outside the tunnel is a map with symbols upon it. Among the fire and wavy lines, I see what looks like a Lightstone. It is very dark here in Onu-Koro. I wonder if perhaps I might find a Lightstone brighter than my own. I head into the tunnel to do just that.
The tunnel is very dark, even with my Lightstone held out in front of me. I inch forward in the darkness cautiously. Finally, I see a light up ahead. It is a Lightstone marking the fork in the tunnel. Recalling the map, I decide to follow the left path.
Two flickering torches mark the entrance to the Lightstones mine. I wander in a ways until I meet up with some of the miners. There appears to have been some sort of disaster here. There is lava flowing everywhere out of the pipes and onto the floor.
The miner to my right, who is holding a large key, speaks to me. “Better steer clear of this area, traveler. There’s a runaway lava flow that burst from Ta-Koro. No way to get to the Lightstone mines until it’s rerouted.”
“We lost a bunch of drilling equipment when that flow burst,” says the miner to my left. “It’s all stuck on the other side of the firelake! If only we could get across!”
I can get across, I think to myself. But then I wonder why I think that. And then I remember: the Lava surfboard! I must know how to surf across the lava if I have a Lava surfboard, I tell myself. Right?
There is only one way to find out. Before I can change my mind, I take the surfboard out of my backpack, throw it down into the lava, and making a running jump for it.
It is an exhilarating ride as I glide across the top of the lava. Fortunately, just when I think all of the momentum has just about left my surfboard, I arrive at the other side of the lava pool.
There is a pump here, but it clearly is not working. I take a closer look. Only a few of the buttons are lit up. I need to somehow get all of the buttons to light. I begin pressing a few buttons to see what happens. After a few presses, I have it figured out. In no time at all, all of the buttons are lit and the pump springs to life.
the lava starts flowing through the pump, the valves on the leaking pipes begin to close until no more lava is flowing into the hallway. Soon, the lava has receded and the miner with the key has arrived and re-opened the Lightstone mine. I go in to take a look.
It is a room unlike any I have ever seen. A million stars light up the night sky, only the sky is made of rock and the stars are made of glowing stone. A prospector is surveying the room while the miners are hard at work.
“Great work, stranger!” says the prospector. “There’s a lot of folks in Onu-Koro who will be glad you found a way to the Lightstones. The Lightstone deposits in this cave will keep Onu-Koro lit for a long time. Pretty sure they’ll keep the Rahi back, too.”
Pleased with myself, I head back to a now much-brighter Onu-Koro. The miners have very quickly taken Lightstones from the mine and distributed them among the village and tunnels. I decide to head into the Great Mine, to see what troubles might persist there.
The tunnel is long and dark. I am amazed at the amount of work that has gone into making this mine. Where only a few idle Ussal Crabs and abandoned equipment had been before, all is now abuzz with activity, thanks to the Lightstones. At the end of the tunnel, I see someone surveying the mine near an elevator shaft. He notices me.
“Who are you?” I ask.
“I’m the Chief Prospector for Mine Shaft 8,” he replies. “We dig for protodermis and stone here.
“Have you brought word from Whenua?” asks the prospector. “Has he figured out how to get through this rock layer?”
“What rock layer?” I ask.
“At the bottom of Shaft B; the elevator goes down there,” he replies. “Onu-Koro’s had real problems since we hit this strata. Can’t dig through it or blast it. Not even Onua could claw through it; it’s just too strong.
“The Mining Captains have been trying to get Whenua to give us more workers and machines,” he continues. “If we don’t find a way through this rock, there won’t be any more protodermis.”
Not eager to relive the heated discussion in Whenua’s hut, I merely say that there is no word yet from Whenua. The prospector does not seem surprised.
“Look out for Rahi in the tunnels! It’s dark down here!” he warns me. “Take care when traveling in the deep mines and tunnels; the Kofo-Jagas can appear at any time. Battling them takes special skill.”
I thank him and say goodbye. I resolve to ride the elevator down to the bottom of Shaft B and take a look for myself at this mysteriously impenetrable rock layer.
The elevator has but one control. I grab the lever and pull it down. My descent begins. The ride is uneventful, but I did not realize just how deep this shaft goes. At the bottom, I step out of the elevator and see someone pondering the ground in the distance.
I move closer. This must be the layer everyone is talking about. All about it are broken and shattered tools.
“That strange disk on the ground is the only feature this rock layer has. I’m not sure what it is,” says the miner, half to himself and half to me. “They look like astrological symbols… if I knew an astrologer, I’d sure have a few questions for him! Hey, do you know any Astrologers by any chance?”
“Who are you?” I ask.
“I’m a prospector for the Mining Guild,” he says. “We’re trying to figure out how to get through this rock layer and mine more protodermis and stone.”
“This strange disk?” I ask.
“Yes, the one on the ground over there,” he replies. “It’s covered with strange symbols. We have no idea how it came to be here, buried so far underground, and sunk into this hard rock. It’s very mysterious.”
“I know an astrologer!” I finally admit.
“You do? Great!” the prospector exclaims. “Take this message and deliver it. I’ve sketched out this disk. Maybe your friend can figure out if it means anything important.”
With the prospector’s letter to the Astrologer in my backpack, I begin the elevator ride back up the shaft. I only realize just how far I have come when I make the long journey back to the Astrologer in Ga-Koro.
“Strange…” she says. “A prospector found this in Onu-Koro? Underground? Who would build a sundial underground? Perhaps there was an earthquake, and it fell beneath the earth…
“Yes, this is an ancient sundial, used many ages ago. I am certain that its purpose has been completely forgotten. The strange thing about it is that it has an indicator at 4 o’clock. No other sundials have this marking. I have always been curious as to why.
“Take this gnomon and see if it fits in the center of the sundial. You see, I found it in the foothills of Mount Ihu a long time ago, and since then have been looking for the sundial to which it belongs. You may have found it for me!
“If it is in a cave, then we may not ever find out what happened every day at four. Unless you have some way to fake sunlight underground!”
I take the gnomon and place it into my backpack. As I ride the boat, walk the paths, ride Puku the Ussal Crab, walk the dark tunnels, and ride the elevator down to the prospector, I can only hope that he and the Astrologer have no more items to exchange.
“So it’s a sundial after all,” says the prospector. “Very odd! Who would put a sundial underground!? Well, the astrologer said something’s supposed to happen at four o’clock each day. Maybe if you can fake sunlight somehow, we can find out what!
“We can’t dig it, we can’t drill it, we can’t blow it up… How do we get through?!”
I take a closer look at the sundial. After traveling all the way from Ga-Koro, I have almost forgotten why I have come back: the gnomon! I take it out of my backpack and place it on the sundial.
As I stare at the sundial, I suddenly have an idea. I take out my Lightstone and cast its light upon the gnomon such that its shadow falls upon what I believe to be the number four. At first, I don’t think it is going to work, but then the dial begins to glow. Soon, the sundial has disappeared and a spiral staircase further down into the depths appears in its place.
“Looks like we had the right idea, stranger,” says the prospector. “That disk was a passage through the rock after all!”
I head cautiously down the spiral stairs. At the bottom, I am amazed to see a gold mask floating in the air above a stone column. I am unable to touch it or do anything with it. As there is nothing else down here, I reluctantly head back up the stairs.
I decide to drop in on Whenua before I leave Onu-Koro to look for other villages. When I reach his hut, the others who were there previously have gone.
“Thank you, adventurer, for helping with so many of Onu-Koro’s problems!” says Whenua gratefully. “I thought the guild masters would never leave me alone! Now that I have some peace, is there anything you would ask of me?”
Just to make certain I know who I am talking to, I ask “Who are you?”
“I am Whenua, Turaga of Onu-Koro,” he replies. “It is my job to keep things running smoothly around here. A hard task in these difficult times.”
“What is Onu-Koro?” I ponder aloud, to see what Whenua thinks of his village.
“Onu-Koro is the wondrous under-city of Mata Nui,” Whenua beams. “Matoran come from near and far to trade at our great Market, and marvel at the work of our engineers. Stone dug from our quarries fuels the creations of Po-Koronan carvers. Protodermis, the stuff of life, is brought from deposits within the earth and traded amongst the Matoran. We also mine Lightstones, and many other precious resources.”
Not having anything else to ask, I say goodbye to Whenua.
“Good luck in your travels, adventurer,” says Whenua as I leave. “May Onua protect you.”
I remember the name from when Whenua was speaking with the guild masters. I ask him, “Who is Onua?”
“Onua is the Toa of our village. He is a great hero, engaged on a quest to find the Masks of Power, which he will need to defeat the Makuta…”
I thank Whenua and set off for the tunnel beyond his hut. I am determined to follow the path of the three wavy lines.