As much as I welcome Nuju‘s beeps, clicks, and whistles of trust in me, I have to admit to myself that I am not as confident. Still, I take the message and set out to fulfill the task.
Once clear of the Sanctum, I take out the flute from Le-Koro. If I am to travel to all the Turaga, I will need to do so quickly. I play the new flutesong, and look to the skies. Soon, as promised, a Kahu bird appears, ready to fly me anywhere on the island. I decide to start with Turaga Vakama in Ta-Koro. But first, I have to deliver some bad news to a friend.
“So,” says Jala. “It is as I feared. My North March scouts have been taken by the Makuta. There may still be hope for them. They will not be forgotten.”
I leave a somber Jala and take Nuju’s message to Vakama. “Thank you, adventurer, for showing this to me,” Vakama says after I show him the message. “You are as noble as your reputation, and as resourceful.”
The other Turaga convey similar sentiments to me when I present them with Nuju’s message. Soon, all have been alerted, and I head back to Ko-Koro to tell Nuju it is so.
Before I reach Nuju though, I come suddenly upon Kapura. I would have sworn he was not there a moment ago. He looks very out-of-place in the snowy white of Ko-Koro.
He greets me. “Hello. You are the Chronicler. I have been looking for you. Vakama wishes to speak with you.”
“Where is Vakama?” I ask.
“Vakama is in Ta-Koro,” Kapura replies.
Well, I was just in Ta-Koro delivering Nuju’s message. Why did he not tell me then? Perhaps he realized I needed to finish delivering Nuju’s message to the other Turaga first. “What does Vakama want?” I ask.
“I know only that it is a matter of great urgency,” says Kapura.
“How did you get here?” I query.
“It is as Vakama said. I practiced, and became skilled. I now know the secret art of traveling great distances by moving very slowly. It is a small matter for me to be wherever I am not. It is a useful skill.
“You should go to Vakama now,” he urges. “It is important.”
I agree to go.
“I am to accompany you,” says Kapura. “Let us go together.”
We ride the cablecar together down the mountain to Ta-Koro and then walk into Vakama’s hut.
Vakama greets us. “Chronicler, it is good of you to come. And thank you, Kapura, for fulfilling your mission so quickly. I see that you have indeed gained skill.
“The Toa have left for the Kini-Nui, to begin their final quest. We must help them, but our villages are beset by Rahi on all sides. I ask that you pursue a mission of grave importance.”
“What are the Toa doing?” I ask.
“The Toa have begun their quest to destroy the Makuta, and bring light and happiness back to Mata Nui. They have recovered all the Kanohi, and are en route to Kini-Nui. In the temple is a passage through which they will enter the Makuta’s dark realm.
“Once inside, the Makuta will attempt to destroy them, and they will be beset by Manas: unimaginable horrors that guard his domain. They will face these fearsome challenges as the Toa Kaita, and there will be great battle.”
“The Toa are much stronger than I!” I protest. “How can I be of help to them?”
“The Makuta is treacherous,” says Vakama. “I believe he knows the Toa are coming, and is massing Rahi to attack the Kini-Nui after the Toa have passed through.
“I fear he will attempt to seal the Toa in his underworld, imprisoning them there forever. Or, worse, should the Toa attempt to flee, he will set the Rahi to ambush them as they emerge through the passage. With the horrible Manas in front and the Rahi behind, the Toa are caught in a vice that will assuredly crush them.”
I ponder this for a moment, and then I ask reluctantly, “What is my mission?”
“You must defend the Kini-Nui against the Rahi while the Toa are underground,” replies Vakama. “I know you are brave and resourceful, but even you cannot do this alone.
“You must assemble a fellowship. Of my left and right hands, Jala should remain here to command his Guard and defend Ta-Koro. My left hand is Kapura, who is with you now.
“He will go. He may seem slow and strange to you, but his simple words often carry a hidden wisdom.
“Go first to the other villages. They are besieged, but I have talked with the Turaga. I’m certain that they can all spare at least one Matoran to aid in this task. Once your Company has been gathered, you must travel to the Kini-Nui. Its road begins where the river ends at Ga-Koro, and falls from a great height.
“This mission is vital. The Toa, and indeed all of Mata Nui, need you now.”
Although I am not eager to begin this task, I sense that our conversation here is over and I bid Vakama goodbye.
“May Mata Nui smile on you and your party, Chronicler,” Vakama says as we leave. “We shall face our own hardships here, but they will bear better knowing you have sped on your task.”
Kapura and I first ride the cablecar back to Ko-Koro to speak with Turaga Nuju. I only hope Matoro is still at his side.
“Nuju is pleased that you have delivered the messages, Chronicler,” Matoro translates, for he is indeed still here in the Sanctum with Nuju. “Now Fate is upon us; Rahi have come out of the Drifts like a storm, and press against our walls!
“He sees that you are seeking a hero to join your Company. The Ko-Koronans try to stay out of the affairs of others, but this time they have no choice but to act.
“Nuju says to find Kopeke, his left hand. He dwells in a cave near the cablecar. Kopeke will not offer great company, for he is hard and likes solitude; but you will find that what he lacks in cheer is made up for with strength and skill. He is our greatest sportsman, and also the most skilled in ice-craft.
“In his hands, a block of ice can become like anything in imagination, from a delicate crystal flower to a gleaming statue of Kopaka, perfect in every detail.”
I thank Nuju for his time, then Kapura and I head back toward the cablecar, for we passed Kopeke without stopping on the way here. This time, we stop.
“Will you join my party and come to Kini-Nui?” I ask Kopeke.
“I will come,” is his reply.
The three of us take the cablecar down to Ta-Koro and then head through the tunnel to Le-Koro. There, at the bottom of the tree, we meet one of the villagers. We hear him sniff, as if he were crying.
“Oh – hello,” he greets us. “Matau Singer and Kongu Pilot, uptree they are. Rama-swarm threatens and all good Le-Koronans fly defense. Highbranch home locked and protected. Downtree guard am I, set here because… I fly not.”
With no way up to the top of the tree, I appear to have no other choice than to seek help from this fellow. “Will you join our Company?” I ask.
“Join I will!” he replies eagerly. “Highbranch home safely guarded, no Rahi approach through brush, only from sky! I am Tamaru, highfly Vinesman and deepwood Wayfinder! Of great help to you can I be!”
I am not so certain of that, as I seem to recall that Tamaru is the villager who fell out of the tree and onto his head when I first came to Le-Koro. Be that as it may, the four of us head back to the tunnel and on to Onu-Koro to speak with Turaga Whenua.
“I have been expecting you, traveler,” Whenua greets us. “You are here to find Matoran that might join your quest. It is a hard choice, since the Rahi have been massing underground, and will attack us at any moment!
“Onepu is brave and strong, and would be the best choice. But he and his Ussalry regiments are needed to defend the caves. Taipu, instead, should go. He is not, perhaps, the brightest Lightstone in Onu-Koro, but his strength is equaled only by his heart.
“With all the work that goes on here, it is dangerous to let any go with you – let alone our strongest digger. But Taipu has spoken of nothing but you and adventure since his visit to Le-Koro, and so I feel it would be wrong to keep him here.
“You may take Taipu. He is in the Great Mine, hard at work, as usual.”
Taipu is indeed in the Great Mine, but I would not say that he is hard at work. His mind most certainly does seem to be elsewhere.
“It’s you!” exclaims Taipu when he sees us. “Are we to go on another adventure together?” he asks. “I would like that very much. Mata Nui is truly a wondrous place. I should like to see more of it!”
“Will you join our Company?” I ask.
“Yes, I will join you!” is his enthusiastic reply.
We all head back to Onu-Koro and then out toward Po-Koro to speak to Turaga Onewa.
“Hello again, Chronicler,” Onewa greets us. “It seems that dark times have fallen again across my village. Nui-Jaga, and worse, are secretly massing in the deserts outside town. I fear that even the great skill of our stone-workers cannot fashion walls high enough to defend us. But we must try.
“I have heard of your mission. You are seeking Matoran to join your Company. These are trying times, and it is hard to part with even my least able craftsmen, but nonetheless I know of the importance of your task.
“Huki I would send, but he is still recovering from his illness, and he is sorely needed here besides. So instead take my left-hand, Hafu. Hafu is very proud, and does not always listen to wise counsel, but his digging and stone-craft are matched by none in Po-Koro.
“Take him with you. Doubtless he is out in the desert, caring for the waysigns on the road, and seeing that no harm comes to his masterworks.”
Hafu is indeed caring for the waysigns. We passed him on our way into the village. We head back out to speak to him.
“I’m not giving any carving lessons today,” he says, misunderstanding our intent. “Don’t you know there are Rahi about?
“If you want to see my artwork, you should do so in Po-Koro. It is safer there, although I do not know for how long. Please don’t bother me. I have to finish my masterpiece before the Rahi attack.”
We explain what we are doing and ask him to join our Company.
“So, you have need of my great skills,” Hafu boasts. “Who am I to deny fame and glory, even if I do not last to see it? I will join your Company.”
The six of us set off for the beach of Po-Wahi. From there we take the boat to Ga-Koro to speak with Turaga Nokama.
“Hello again, adventurer,” says Nokama when she sees us. “It is nice to see you, even though trouble often walks alongside you. Even now, the waters are filled with horrible Rahi, bent on our destruction!
“I confess I have feared your arrival. Kotu and Maku are very dear to me, so I am sorry to send them with you on such a dangerous mission. It is harder even to choose which one I would rather see go.
“Kotu, I think, needs to stay here with me and maintain the village’s defense. So it is Maku, my right hand, which you should take. She has been told to stay in her hut until now, and her love of Huki and adventure has made it a hard punishment. I fear her cheer at being allowed to go outside will blind her to the dangers of your task. Yet, she is good with boats, and her agility and acrobatic training makes her a valuable warrior!
“The way to the Kini-Nui lies behind the waterfall near our village. It is likely that Maku can find a boat to get through the falls. You will find her in her hut.”
“Hello, Chronicler!” says Maku when we stop by her hut. “I heard Huki was sick, and that you helped him become better. Thank you! I mean… that is, I’m sure the Po-Koronans are glad to have him back.
“I wish Nokama would let me go visit Huki, but the Rahi are going to attack again, and everyone is building barricades around the village.”
“Will you join our party?” I ask.
“Yes, I will come with you!” is Maku’s eager reply. “It will be good to go out on adventures again!”
* * *
“It looks just as it did in my vision,” Kopaka murmured, sounding surprised.
The others were already exclaiming over the grand temple. But Onua’s mind turned immediately to more practical matters.
“Look,” he said, pointing to the life-size carvings of the six Toa cut out of the temple walls, complete except that the carvings wore no masks at all. “Are you thinking what I’m thinking?”
“I am, if you’re thinking our masks would fit perfectly over these carved faces,” Tahu said, ripping off his Kanohi Kaukau and holding it over the carved Tahu figure.
“Wait!” Kopaka said. “Let’s not throw away our powers foolishly.”
Tahu frowned at him. “Who says we’re throwing them away?” he challenged him. “It was your vision that led us here. Now you say we’re being foolish?”
“That’s not what I meant,” Kopaka said.
Gali placed a hand on Kopaka’s arm. “It’s okay, brother,” she said. “I think Tahu is on the right track – this time.”
“Thank you, sister Gali.” Tahu smiled at her. “I appreciate the support.”
Gali smiled back, and Kopaka scowled in irritation. Whatever had been bothering those two earlier seemed to be over. Kopaka opened his mouth to argue further, but something stopped him.
Maybe this isn’t the wrong thing to do just because it seems impulsive, he thought. Then he frowned. What am I doing? Am I turning into Lewa or Gali, trusting passing whims and feelings?
Tahu pushed the mask onto the stone Tahu’s face. As the mask melted into the stone he pulled off his Kanohi Miru, and then his other masks, placing each one onto the carving’s face.
Lewa and Pohatu followed Tahu’s lead. Even Gali stepped forward toward her sculpture, her Kanohi Kaukau in hand.
Onua glanced over at Kopaka. “Normally I, like you, would be against this rush to move,” he commented. “But I’m getting the strangest feeling that this is what we are meant to do.”
Kopaka nodded. “I – I, too, am beginning to get that feeling.”
That was enough for Onua. He had already observed enough to know that the Ice Toa wasn’t one to make rash decisions – not without good reason, anyway.
The two of them walked over to their own likenesses. Onua pulled off his Kanohi Kakama. Taking a deep breath, he set into place on the stone Toa’s face. The stone seemed to suck it in, swallowing it into itself. Onua fed it another mask, and another. Soon he was placing his last mask onto the carving. It melted into the carving like the others but remained visible, tinting the stone black. Without any mask at all, Onua’s face felt strange and vulnerable.
For a moment nothing happened. Onua felt his heart sink. Had they just given away their Masks of Power for no good reason? Had this all been a trick of Makuta?
Then there was a peak of sound, like great bells blended with laughter. Onua gasped in amazement as a new mask suddenly appeared on the face of each stone carving – a golden Kanohi, glowing with light and power.
Onua carefully lifted the golden Kanohi from the carving’s face and placed it on his own. He staggered back a step as waves of power blasted through him. Then he smiled. This new mask united all the powers of the other six – only it was even stronger!
“So this was what we were really seeking,” Gali said, sounding awed. “Now we truly have the power to take on the Makuta….”
Her last few words were nearly drowned out by a mighty rumble from somewhere deep within the earth. The Toa jumped back as a group, even as the ground began to shake and groan beneath their feet.
A chasm yawned open in front of them, right in the middle of the main temple area. It turned into a tunnel about two lengths wide.
Then everything stopped. The earth lay still again, as if nothing had happened.
The Toa stared at the hole in the ground. Then they stared at one another. There was a moment of silence.
Finally Onua spoke.
“Come on,” he said, stepping toward the tunnel. “I guess we’d better see where this goes.”