Dig, pull, scrape, push. Dig, pull, scrape, push.
Onua fell into comfortable rhythm as he scooped out a new tunnel. He was happy to be underground.
But he still felt uneasy. Aside from his name, he didn’t know anything about who or where he was. And he couldn’t shake the feeling that he was somehow missing something – missing a piece of himself.
But he pushed that worry aside. There was no sense in wasting energy fretting over what he couldn’t control. All he could do was control what he could – like the digging.
Onua powered his huge hand forward through a rocky section of the tunnel wall. It met empty air instead of earth and rock. Interesting.
Pushing through with a shower of stones and clay, Onua found himself in a large cavern. In the center, a tower of rock ended in a flat stone platform. Atop it, a lightstone glowed.
So there are others underground, Onua thought. Perhaps they will have some answers for me.
He spotted a tunnel in the far wall of the cavern and followed it.
Turning a corner, he was startled to see a familiar-looking figure at the center of a large mural.
“Is that – me?” he whispered, reaching out to touch the image. It portrayed a powerful-looking figure with a wedge-shaped mask and large clawed hands. The figure was standing among five other, similar figures.
As Onua touched the lines of the carving, he felt a strange vibration in the wall. Stepping forward, he put his head to it, listening intently.
Thunka, thunka, thunka, thunka, thunka…
It was a steady rhythm. Onua had no idea what it meant. But he planned to find out. With one last glance at the picture of himself, he turned and continued down the tunnel, keeping one hand on the wall to follow the vibrations.
The pulsing grew stronger and stronger – and with the next twist of the tunnel, Onua found what he was looking for. Another enormous cavern lay before him, lit by more lightstone platforms. Dozens of stone columns stretched up to the high ceiling. Between these columns were paths made of cobblestones set into the earthen floor. Stone benches stood beside the paths, and a small, clear stream trickled through the cavern.
It must be a – a park of some sort, Onua realized. But – down here? Why – and how?
Stepping forward, he saw that the little stream emptied out into a still, round pool lined with pebbles. In the center, reddish-brown gemstones spelled out a word:
Onu-Koro – what did that mean? What kind of connection did it have with his name?
Before he had time to ponder this, Onua saw a small figure hurrying across the park.
Onua leaped forward. “You there!” he called. “Hey, hello!”
The figure glanced over his shoulder, then stopped short. “Oh!” he exclaimed. “Oh, oh.”
Onua frowned. Perhaps this being didn’t speak the same language as he did. He cleared his throat. “Hel-lo,” he said as slowly and clearly as he could. “Me – Onua.” He put a hand to his chest, then pointed toward the other. “Who – you? Do – you – understand – me?”
“Oh, yes!” the small figure cried, bending into a sort of hurried bow. “Oh, Toa Onua – we have been waiting for you such a long time! Come, please – Turaga Whenua will want to see you right away.”
Confused, Onua followed him. “You know my name,” he said. “But I don’t know yours.”
“Oh! Forgive my rudeness, Toa. My name is Onepu. I am a Matoran of this village of Onu-Koro.”
Onepu led the way through a series of tunnels and caverns. Soon they reached another large cavern. On each wall, a series of carved-out dwellings climbed nearly to the ceiling.
“Wait here, please, Toa,” Onepu said, gesturing toward a large stone bench near the fountain. “I will fetch the Turaga.”
Onua nodded, and the Matoran rushed off. Onua took the opportunity to look around. At the center of the cavern was a fountain filled with crystal-clear water. A sculpture arose from the pool, spouting water out of several spots.
Onua blinked. Was he going crazy, or did that sculpture look an awful lot like – him?
He was still staring at the fountain when he heard someone behind him. Turning, he saw a figure much like Onepu, but a bit taller and with a different mask. The eyes behind that mask held patience, caution, and great wisdom.
“I am Whenua, Turaga of this village,” the stranger said, bowing. “Welcome, Toa Onua. We have been waiting for you.”
“Yes, so I’ve heard,” Onua replied. “And I’ve been awaiting some clue about who I am and what I’m doing here.”
“The legends said that would be the case,” Whenua said. “It was said that the Toa, when they arrived, would remember very little.”
“You said ‘they’ arrived,” Onua said. “Are there – are there others like me?”
Whenua nodded. “There are five others,” he said. “Each of you draws his power from a different element – yours is the earth itself. Your purpose is to use that power to face and fight a mighty evil – Makuta.”
Though Onua wasn’t sure why, the name sent a chill through him. An image floated into his mind – dark, empty eyes in an even darker face shrouded with gray smoke.
“Makuta?” Onua repeated as the image floated away. “Who or what is this Makuta?”
“He is the darkness, the essence of chaos and emptiness and fear, the spirit of destruction,” Whenua replied in a trembling voice. “It is said that only the Toa have the power to stand against him.”
“It is said?” Onua asked. “You don’t sound too certain about our success.”
Whenua shook his head sadly. “It serves no purpose to be false, for the earth cannot be deceived,” he said. “Nothing about your quest is certain, except that it is your duty to try. That is all that any of us can do in this life.”
“I will do what I can,” he promised solemnly. “But first, you must tell me all you know of these powers you say I have.”
“Of course, Toa,” Whenua said. “For that is my duty. First, you should know that the power itself comes from within you, but it is focused through your mask – the Pakari, the Great Mask of Strength.”
“My – my mask?” Onua touched his hand to his face, remembering the surge of strength and power when he’d first put it on.
Whenua nodded somberly. “The Pakari gives you power – great power,” he said. “But one mask will not be enough…”