Jaller faced Hahli, gathering his courage to say what he wanted before leaving on his quest.
Hahli cleared her throat. “Look, don’t get mushy, Jaller,” she said. “I have no time for long good-byes.”
“I was just going to say…” Jaller took a deep breath. “You owe me a rematch on the kolhii field.”
Hahli’s eyes softened.
“Well then, you’d better hurry back,” she said. “Cause I’ll be practicing.” She touched him on the arm, then turned and walked away.
Jaller watched her go. How long would it be until he saw her again? Would he see her again? Trying not to think about that, he joined Takua on Pewku’s back.
“The shadows of the Makuta are powerful,” Turaga Vakama warned before they could leave. “Do not take your journey lightly. It will tolerate none of your foolery.”
“How will we know where to start?” Takua asked Vakama.
“Trust in the mask,” he replied. “Let it be your guide.”
Jaller pulled the Mask of Light out of his bag, holding it up. As he turned it in one particular direction, it suddenly began to glow brightly.
“Hard to argue with that,” Jaller said.
Takua tapped Pewku’s shell and the Ussal galloped off.
Turaga Vakama’s voice floated after them. “Remember your duty!” he called. “And walk in the light!”
Gali was still meditating in the Amaja Circle, gazing outward toward the surface of the temple pond.
Suddenly the bright sunlight was cut by a dark shadow. Thick gray clouds were rolling across the sky, turning ordinary day to eerie twilight.
Gali stood and made her way to a plateau overlooking the entire temple. What was happening? As she gazed down at the suva dome, there was a sizzle of energy. An instant later, the suva exploded into a million shards.
A claw reached out of the smoky hole where the suva dome had stood. A moment later three horrifying figures climbed out of the hole and stood surveying the destruction.
Gali gasped. One of the figures swiveled his head in her direction. It banged its staff on the ground, sending sparks of dark energy arcing up. A zigzag lightning bolt shot into the air.
Gali somersaulted backward off the plateau. A split second later, the energy bolt struck the spot where she had stood.
The three Rahkshi climbed higher, seeking their target. But Gali was nowhere to be seen. Hissing with frustration, the trio gave up. The Rahkshi floated upward on the force of their dark energy, hovering over the ground. They flew away, disappearing from the temple area.
A moment later the still surface of the temple pond rippled, and Gali emerged. She had no idea what sort of creatures they were, but one thing was obvious – they did not come in peace.
She glanced down the mountain. Her eyes widened as she spotted the Rahkshi in the distance, hovering purposefully along.
“Ta-Koro!” Gali murmured in alarm.
Diving back beneath the water, she swam in the direction of Tahu’s village, determined to warn him in time.
As the river she was following flowed around the base of the Mangai volcano, she took to the land, her wet feet leaving steaming footprints in her wake.
“Why have I been summoned?” Tahu said impatiently as he leaped onto the village wall. He glanced down and spotted Gali.
Before she could answer his question, thunder rumbled in the distance. A huge dark cloud rolled over the village, obscuring the sun.
On the far side of the lake, the three Rahkshi appeared, seeming to shimmer through the heat rising off the lava. They hovered over the ground, moving smoothly toward the Lake of Fire.
Turaga Vakama had been summoned by the guards as well. He had brought along Turaga Nokama, who had lingered in the village after the kolhii tournament. The two of them squinted into the hazy heat.
“Rahkshi,” Nokama pronounced grimly. “The sons of Makuta!”
Vakama nodded. “Shadows that cower in the depths. Exactly as foretold.”
Tahu leaped off of the wall. “None have breached Ta-Koro’s gates before,” he proclaimed. “And none shall this day!”
The Rahkshi didn’t even pause at the edge the of the lava lake – but merely floated on, moving as easily over the fiery surface as they had over the solid ground.
Tahu blinked in surprise. Then he pulled out his magma swords, holding them at the ready.
As the Rahkshi reached the shore, the Fragmenter raised its staff. A lightning bolt of dark energy arced from its end, zigzagging toward Tahu.
The Fire Toa reacted quickly. A red shield appeared around him an instant before the bolt reached him. The bolt of dark energy hit the shield with awesome power, sending the Toa flying backward through the gates and into the village courtyard.
“Mata Nui protect us!” Vakama cried in horror.
Tahu slid to a stop, dazed. My shield, he thought blearily. What happened? Why didn’t it deflect that bolt? What sort of enemy is this?
His thoughts faded as he slipped into unconsciousness.