Our party of misfits is complete. We walk to the beach and head toward the waterfall. I have seen it before, but others of my Company have not.
“This land is a place of beauty, and also of sadness. There is no greater craftsman than Mata Nui!” says Hafu.
“The waterfall is so beautiful! Like a million Lightstones tossed in the air!” adds Taipu.
“Vakama says the road to the Kini-Nui lies on the other side of those falls,” says Kapura.
“I can swim, if we need to cross the falls,” says Tamaru. “But I’m not sure about the others.”
“By Pohatu!” exclaims Hafu. “Horrid stuff, water. I wouldn’t swim in it if the Makuta himself were at my back, and don’t know how besides!”
“I can help us cross!” says Maku. “I used to go boating here, in safer times. If it’s weathered the storms, my canoe is still hidden in the bushes along the bank.”
We travel the underground waterway inland until we emerge from the tunnel and reach green, forested hills. This is clearly an ancient path. We come upon a bridge that appears to have given way. I don’t know how we can continue.
“That’s odd,” says Maku. “There used to be a bridge here… what can have happened to it?”
“Whether by storm or some darker force, the bridge that stood here is gone for good. Not even I can craft a new one!” proclaims Hafu.
“When I stand at the edge and look down, it makes me dizzy,” adds Taipu unhelpfully.
“Perhaps a flying Le-Koronan can figure a way across,” hints Maku.
Tamaru thinks quickly. In no time at all, he has fashioned a rope of vine and tied it to a nearby tree. He then hurls himself out over the chasm and swings up to the other side. He lands in a bush, but he signals that he is OK. He secures the rope, and one by one we work our way to the other side. When all are safely across, we continue down the pathway through the dense forest.
The chatter among our Company is cheerful and upbeat.
“With such Company, Makuta-beasts have much to fear!” says Tamaru.
“It is good to be on an adventure with you again!” says Maku. “I thought Nokama would keep me locked up in the village forever.”
“Are we there yet?” asks Taipu.
“If you practice, you can move quickly,” replies Kapura.
As the trees begin to clear, it becomes apparent that another obstacle has been strewn across our path. Where there was once a passage through these rocky hills, we now reach a wall of fallen rocks and stone.
“I came this way once,” says Maku, “and this rockslide was not here. Something calls forth the very earth to block our path! This is a fell sign.”
“My stonecraft is great indeed, Chronicler! I can cut through these stones,” says Hafu. “But I should also need great skill at digging, such as Taipu possesses.”
“Digging in rock is what the Onu-Koronans do best,” says Taipu proudly. “I will clear a route with your help.”
“Another Hafu original,” proclaims Hafu as the dust settles. We are surprised to see an enormous statue of Hafu standing next to the newly opened pass. We admire it for but a moment, and are once again on our way.
Our trip takes us higher up into the snow-capped mountains. We come upon a large, stone carving of a face.
“This is the portal to the Kini-Nui,” says Maku. “On the other side lies our destination! But I fear our long journey is for nothing, for our astrologer has spoken of these gates.”
“These gates are ancient, and fashioned by a hand whose skill rivals even my own,” says Hafu. “I have not much hope for any who try trespass without the key. Perhaps Kopeke can wield some ice-lore to get us past this place?”
Kopeke, who has had little to say on our journey, does not speak now either, but instead sets to work. He carefully examines the lock in the mouth of the face. He travels a short way to an icy drift. The sun has melted large icicles onto its lip. He breaks one off and begins crafting a key.
The key fits perfectly into the lock and the door opens swiftly. We are free to pass through the portal. On the other side, deep in a protected green valley, is Kini-Nui. We climb down to the valley and cross the woods to the temple.
Here are assembled all six Toa. They are deep in discussion among themselves. “This is where we begin our final task,” says Tahu. “If any of you question our choice, or doubt our chances if we work together, speak now!”
“I have doubted you in the past, Tahu,” replies Kopaka, “but no more. I think I speak for all of us when I say that our only hope is to work together. So I cast my sword with yours, if you will have it.”
“I will have it gladly, Kopaka,” affirms Tahu. “You are all in assent?”
All of the Toa nod their heads in agreement.
“Then it is decided!” proclaims Tahu. “Together, the Makuta cannot resist us!”
“Wait, Tahu!” Lewa interjects. “Have you given no thought to our return? If the Rahi attack the Temple while we are below, how can we escape?”
“I do not know the answer to that question, Lewa,” replies Tahu, and he hangs his head. “So grim is this task, that I have not thought it much use to consider anything beyond our meeting with the Makuta.”
“Hold!” shouts Onua. “There is an intruder among us!” Onua turns and looks upon us. “But… what is this?”
“Stay your claws, Onua!” Gali urges. “It is the Chronicler, and his Company!
“Little one, you are brave indeed, to have come all this way,” Gali says as she turns to us. “And I see you have gathered help from all the villages around!
“Tahu, it is as I hoped,” continues Gali. “These Matoran can guard the Kini-Nui while we descend, and see that no Rahi attacks us from behind.”
“The Rahi are fearsome,” says Lewa. “May their hearts prove greater than their size would suggest!”
“In truth it is said that great power can be found in small packages…” says Pohatu, “and that aid can come from places least expected. And besides, we have few options.”
“So be it,” says Tahu. “Chronicler, it is your doom to remain here, and guard the Kini-Nui at all costs. This deed will be remembered as long as any remain to sing of it!
“Friends,” Tahu says to the other Toa, “we have much to do and little time. Let’s go!”
Tahu and the other Toa move away toward the temple. Gali stays behind for a moment to address me.
“Before I go, Chronicler,” says Gali, “know that there is a bond between us. Your struggles and those of your friends will be much to bear. I shall be with you in heart.
“Look for me in your dreams. I will come to you then, and speak to you of the things we see underground. Remember them.
“Goodbye! And do not let the Temple fall!”
With that, Gali and the other Toa ascend the steps of the Temple, and descend into its gaping maw.