Deep in the jungle of Toa Lewa’s home region of Le-Wahi, a trio of figures wandered slowly, dwarfed by the ancient trees.
Takua glanced around from his vantage point on Pewku’s back. “I hate the jungle,” he said. “It’s all sticky and” – he paused to slap at something on his neck – “full of bugs.”
“How can you say that?” Jaller exclaimed. “It’s incredible! Geez, is there any place on Mata Nui where you do feel at home?”
“I don’t complain about Ta-Koro.”
“But you wander off every chance you get, looking for stories,” Jaller reminded his friend. “What about your story?”
“I don’t have a story,” Takua insisted with a shrug.
“Only ‘cause you won’t stand still long enough to make one,” Jaller said. “We all have a destiny, you know.”
“You know me,” Takua said lightly. “Always different.”
Suddenly a fierce roar blasted through the jungle. Pewku stopped short, trembling.
Takua gulped. “Yet another reason to hate the jungle,” he whispered. “Go that way, Pewku!”
Pewku changed direction. The Mask of Light, which Jaller was still holding, began to fade.
“No,” Jaller said. “The mask says this way. Back on track, Pewku.” He waited, but the Ussal continued in the new direction. “Pewku!”
Pewku whined nervously. Slowly, she turned back to the original track.
The Ussal stepped forward. She blinked as something – a large shape, blurred with speed – passed in front of them.
Takua didn’t notice. “Will you stop with the duty thing and use your head?” he said to Jaller. “Or do you want to be jungle snacks?”
“Guess I should listen to the real Herald,” Jaller retorted sarcastically. He smacked himself in the forehead. “No, wait! You weaseled out. So I’m in charge.”
Pewku stopped short as a fierce-looking creature stepped out in front of them. It was an ash bear, all teeth and claws.
Takua noticed it. “Fine,” he told Jaller, his voice shaking slightly as he pointed to the ash bear. “You’re doing great so far.”
The ash bear let out a mighty roar. Takua, Jaller, and Pewku shrieked in response. Takua and Jaller ducked as the ash bear’s claws swatted at them. Pewku turned and fled, scampering behind a large tree.
The ash bear lunged around the tree in pursuit. Pewku changed direction, heading back the other way around the tree’s trunk. But the ash bear was too quick, blocking their way once more. It swiped at them again, missing by the merest fraction. Its claws met the tree trunk instead, leaving deep gashes in the bark.
“Keep him busy!” Jaller said, grabbing the trunk and starting to climb. “I’m…”
“Running away and leaving me!” Takua finished for him.
The ash bear made another lunge, backing Takua and Pewku against the tree. Jaller swung up onto a branch directly overhead.
“Just watch!” he called down to his friends. “Toa Tahu does this!”
He jumped out of the tree – right onto the ash bear’s broad back. But he’d misjudged his leap and wound up facing the creature’s hind-quarters. The ash bear turned away from Takua and Pewku. It grunted and roared angrily as it leaped and twisted, trying to dislodge Jaller.
Takua and Pewku raced out of range. “Toa Tahu does that?” Takua muttered, turning to watch as Jaller hung on for dear life.
“Whoa!” Jaller cried, feeling his grasp slip. He had to hold on! If he fell off now…
Before he could finish the thought, a sudden gust of wind swirled through the leaves. At the same time, a vine snaked out of the brush, coiling around the ash bear’s front foot.
The ash bear growled in surprise as another vine followed the first, wrapping around the creature’s back feet and looping them together. The vines tightened, and the ash bear was hoisted off the jungle floor. Jaller finally lost his grip and crashed to the ground, landing face-first.
“Oof!” he grunted.
A tall green figure dropped down out of the foliage above.
“Toa Lewa!” Takua cried.
He bowed to the Toa, while Jaller rolled painfully to a sitting position. Lewa grinned.
“Mata Nui!” he exclaimed to Jaller. “Where’d you learn to bearfight like that, little man?”
Jaller rubbed his sore back. “Right here,” he said with a groan.
Lewa playfully grabbed Jaller, setting him gently on his feet. “Well, I’d say you’re a natural, brave firespitter,” the Toa said.
He released the vines, lowering the ash bear to the ground. The ash bear immediately leaped up and growled.
Takua and Jaller stepped back, leaving Lewa alone to face the ash bear. The Toa spoke soothingly to the creature. “Go on now, sisterbear.”
The ash bear hesitated. Then she turned and lumbered off into the jungle.
Jaller and Takua were amazed. But now that the ash bear was gone, Lewa had other things on his mind. “Word is deepwood that you seek the Seventh Toa,” he said.
Takua gestured toward Jaller. “He seeks, I follow. He’s the Herald. I’m just his biographer.”
Jaller scowled at Takua, but Lewa didn’t notice. “If Toa Lewa helped on your search, might he be a spiritlift?”
Takua and Jaller glanced at each other in amazement. The mighty Toa wanted to travel with them?
“You?” Takua said. “With us?”
“We’d be honored to have you walk with us!” Jaller added eagerly.
Lewa glanced upward. “Walk?” he said. “Not never! If you ride with me, there’ll be no footwalkin’…”
There was a whoosh from overhead. A giant, hawklike Gukko bird swooped out of the trees and hovered above them. Lewa grinned at the two Matoran.
“Just airflyin’,” he finished. “Ever windfly a Gukko bird?”
Jaller shook his head, his eyes wide. But Takua shrugged. “I’ve been a second,” he said. “But I’ve never flown one myself.”
Lewa grabbed Takua and Jaller and tossed them up onto the Gukko. They landed sitting right behind the bird’s head, with Takua in the front.
“Then today’s for quicklearnin’,” Lewa declared as the Matoran yelped in surprise. “Stay sharp, and follow-well!” He spread his arms, the air katana blades he carried locking into his shoulders. Then he leaped into the air.
As the Gukko wheeled to follow the Toa, Takua glanced down and noticed Pewku watching anxiously from the ground. “Sorry, Pewku,” he called to her gently. “No room. Go on home.”
Pewku’s head drooped sadly. She let out a soft whine as the Gukko bird flapped through the treetops and disappeared.
Takua and Jaller soon got the hang of following the Gukko’s movements as it swooped and glided through the air after Lewa. “Hey, I’m good at this!” Takua cried out as the bird dove through a grove of trees. Takua ducked just in time, but Jaller ended up with a mouthful of leaves.
He spit them out. “As compared to what?” he asked Takua.
The Gukko veered again. Nearby, Lewa did an amazing loop-the-loop in midair, then swooped over to glide along beside the bird and its passengers. “Ha!” the Toa exclaimed. “I was so eager to join your search, I forgot I’m not the wayfinder. Herald, do the honors!”
Jaller raised the mask. It glowed brightly, leading them up through the jungle canopy and over the treetops toward the steep, snow-covered peaks of the Ko-Wahi region, where Kopaka’s people made their home.
Soon they reached a snowy plateau. In the background, sheer cliffs rose into ice-covered peaks. The Gukko glided to a landing, stopping abruptly as its feet touched down. Taken by surprise, Takua and Jaller flipped forward over its head, landing face-first in the snow.
Jaller sat up and glared at Takua. Takua shrugged. “What?” he said. “We’re here.”
Jaller raised the Mask of Light and spun slowly in place. The mask brightened as he faced a ravine between two snowcapped peaks.
“Hey!” Jaller said to Takua in surprise as the Gukko flew off. “You even kept us on the right path. Not bad for a kolhii-head.”
He glanced around, looking for Lewa. The Toa was standing at the cliff’s edge, looking out over the jungle with an expression of concentration. As Takua and Jaller stepped toward him, they heard the faint sound of tribal drums in the distance.
Lewa turned toward them, looking unusually solemn. “The drums of Le-Koro bring a sorrybad story,” he told them. “Your village has… fallen. To Rahkshi, the Makuta sons.”
Jaller could hardly believe his ears. “My village, in trouble?” he cried, stricken. “I should have been there! I must return!”
“Sorry, firespitter,” Lewa said gently. “Past-late to help now. The mask most needs you.”
Jaller turned, shoving the mask into Takua’s hands. “Takua will continue in my place.”
“Uh-uh, no way!” Takua said quickly. “You accepted this duty.”
“I accepted your duty!” Jaller shot back.
“Stop!” Lewa ordered sternly. He stepped between them. “What’s this dutyquarrel? We all have a duty to Mata Nui. No time to infight.”
Takua and Jaller exchanged a guilty glance. “I must go be with the Toa,” Lewa said. “But then I’ll go to your village, Jaller. Heartpromise.”
Jaller bowed to the Air Toa. “I… can’t thank you enough, Toa.”
Lewa leaped into the air and glided out of sight. Jaller grabbed the mask back from Takua and headed for the ravine. Takua shrugged and followed.