The Rahkshi hovered through the wrecked gates and into the village. Suddenly Gali dropped into view from atop the village wall, her aqua axes at the ready.
She looked up at the Rahkshi as the Disintegrator-Rahkshi swung its staff toward her.
She blocked the blow with her axes, then grabbed for the staff, trying to yank it out of its owner’s hand. But the Disintegrator was too strong. Gali went flying, tumbling to the ground.
The Disintegrator-Rahkshi touched its staff to the courtyard wall. A shimmer of dark energy poured into the wall, and cracks spread outward like a spiderweb, moving through the structure with awesome speed. The village guards barely had time to leap off before a huge portion of the wall collapsed into a heap of stone debris.
The Disintegrator stepped closer, scanning the wreckage. Meanwhile the Poison-Rahkshi twirled its staff, then poked the stinger end into the ground. Poison flowed out of it, turning the earth a sickly yellow-green.
Tahu was finally regaining his senses. He sat up just in time to see the Fragmenter-Rahkshi walk by, scanning left and right as it went. As Tahu watched, the creature pointed its staff toward a lavastone hut, blasting it into pieces. Approaching the wreckage, the Fragmenter poked at it with the staff, shifting through it.
The creature turned at Tahu’s bold shout. The Toa’s swords burned with flames as he spun them and then planted them in the ground at his feet. Twin streaks of fire shot out of them, racing along the ground toward the Rahkshi. Splitting apart when they reached the creature, they formed a wall of flame around it.
Tahu approached warily. He jumped in surprise as the Rahkshi suddenly stepped out through the flames, unharmed.
The Toa and Rahkshi fought furiously. Tahu was matching the creature blow for blow – for now. But he could feel its fearsome power. How long could he stand against it?
The Disintegrator-Rahkshi slammed its staff into the wall near what had once been the village gate. Dark energy spidered through the columns and stones. The Rahkshi turned away, preparing to retreat. But Gali blocked the way.
The Water Toa held her axes crossed in front of her. A geyser of water erupted from the earth, beneath the Rahkshi’s feet. The creature raised its staff in defense, but it was too late. The hard ground dissolved into sticky mud, and the Rahkshi’s weight made it sink quickly until its feet were trapped.
The Disintegrator hissed angrily, fighting to free itself. Suddenly there was a rumble from behind it. The Rahkshi looked up in alarm – just as the gate wall tumbled onto it, burying it beneath a shower of rubble.
Satisfied that the Rahkshi was trapped – for the moment, at least – Gali turned away. She saw Tahu across the courtyard, locked in battle with the Fragmenter-Rahkshi.
Tahu was fighting hard. He managed to trick the Rahkshi with a false move, then flipped it onto the ground. Then he planted his magma swords in the ground. The earth beneath the Rahkshi split open and lava bubbled up. Tahu leaped away as the Fragmenter sank out of sight.
Hearing someone approach, Tahu glanced over to see Gali hurrying toward him. When he turned his gaze back to the lava pit, he was shocked to see the Fragmenter pulling its way out, dripping with lava but undamaged.
Gali saw the terrible sight, too. “We must get the Matoran to safety – now.”
Tahu frowned. “Retreat? Surrender?”
“This battle is lost, Tahu!” Gali insisted as the Fragmenter stepped free of the lava. “We need to regroup!”
Tahu growled. But he realized that Gali was right. “So be it.”
Suddenly a familiar voice rang out. “Back, you foul creature!” Vakama cried.
Tahu and Gali exchanged a glance, then raced toward the sound of the Turaga’s voice. They arrived to find Vakama weakly waving his firestaff, trying to hold off the Poison-Rahkshi.
“Well done, wise one!” Tahu called to him, leaping forward. “I’ll take it from here.”
Gali jumped forward to join him. She sent a blast of water toward the Poison-Rahkshi. But the creature dodged at the last moment, and the blast hit Tahu, knocking him off of his feet.
“Brother!” Gali cried out. She watched in horror as the creature loomed over the fallen Tahu, striking at him with its staff. But Tahu somersaulted away, then knocked the Rahkshi’s legs out from under it. The creature crashed to the ground and tumbled down to the base of the wall.
Tahu landed on his feet, then dropped to his knees. A faint greenish-brown scratch glowed on the surface of his mask, then faded and disappeared as if it had never been.
Gali rushed up to the Fire Toa. “Tahu, I’m sorr –” she began.
“It’s nothing,” Tahu cut her off.
He grabbed Vakama as the Poison-Rahkshi planted its staff into the wall beside him. The Toa leaped away just ahead of the poison that was already spreading outward from the wall.
Gali, Tahu, Vakama, and Hahli stood together on the shore, watching as the entire village sank into the lava. The Rahkshi hovered away, disappearing into the steam on the far side.
Tahu took a deep breath. Ta-Koro was no more. But as he glanced around at the crowds of Matoran huddled nearby, he realized that the entire population of the village had escaped.
“They could have destroyed us,” he said. “Why didn’t they?”
Turaga Vakama shook his head. “They are seekers,” he said. “Whatever they came for they did not find.”
“So what were they after?” Gali asked.
“Makuta fears for his spell of shadows,” Vakama replied.
Gali and Tahu exchanged a glance. “The Mask of Light!” Gali said, suddenly understanding.
“Then they seek the Seventh Toa,” Tahu said. Suddenly realizing what that meant, he gasped. “Jaller and Takua!”
“We’ll summon the Toa to find them,” Gali said.
Tahu stopped her. “Don’t trouble the others, sister,” he said. “I will see to their safety myself.”
Gali was surprised. “No, Tahu,” she said. “We must remain united.”
Tahu turned away from her. For an instant, a sickly yellowish-brown glow flashed through his eyes. Then it was gone. He sighed and turned back to Gali.
“If you insist,” he said.