Jaller breathed out, awed by the sight that lay before his eyes. “Kini-Nui!” he whispered. “The Great Temple!”
The temple and the surrounding mountains were bathed in the colorful rays of the setting sun. The Mask of Light glowed as they crossed the Amaja Circle. As they approached a giant head carved into the stone at the edge of the plateau, the mask’s light faded.
“No way,” Takua said. “We’ve been all over the island, just to wind up here?”
“Why not? It’s a sacred place,” Jaller pointed out.
Takua grabbed the mask, which immediately glowed brightly again. “You sure you’re working this right?”
At that moment a beam of brilliant light shot out of the mask. It landed on the giant stone head. The ground quaked, shaking loose countless years’ worth of dirt and grime from the carving. As the outlines of a mask began to be visible underneath, the sun dipped beneath the horizon, plunging the temple into dusky dimness.
“Wow, this is it,” Jaller said. “The Seventh Toa must be here.”
An ominous hiss rose nearby. Takua and Jaller turned toward the sound in fear. Three Rahkshi stepped out from behind a rock – Fragmenter, Disintegrator, and Poison.
Jaller gasped. “Give me the mask, Takua,” he said grimly, grabbing it from his friend’s hands.
“Jaller, no!” Takua cried. “We both know the mask chose me. I am the true Herald.”
“Are you still sure, even now?”
Takua held out his hand. “Yes!” he said firmly. “I’m the Herald.”
Jaller hesitated briefly, then handed over the mask. Takua nodded. “And I say… run!” he cried.
Takua, Jaller, and Pewku raced down toward the lower plateau. The ground quaked again at the base of the steps. A fissure erupted in a shower of rocks and earth, and three more Rahkshi burst out of the ground!
Takua and Jaller turned to race back up the steps. But the first trio of Rahkshi were already descending from the top. They were trapped!
Suddenly a flare of brilliant fire rocketed overhead, illuminating the entire temple.
The Rahkshi shielded their faces against the glare. An urn atop the enormous stone head ignited, illuminating Lewa and Gali, who stood on either side. Tahu stepped in from the shadows, the fire reflecting off of his bright red armor.
Takua let out a breath of relief. “Great!” he called to the three Toa as they leaped into the air. “You can get us out of here!”
Tahu pulled out his swords. “We are done running.”
The Fragmenter-Rahkshi hissed, unleashing an arc of dark energy from its staff. Tahu lifted his shield, enveloping all of the Toa and Matoran in a protective force field. He staggered backward as the Rahkshi’s bolt hit, but recovered quickly.
“We will not be broken!” the Fire Toa shouted defiantly.
He and Lewa stood side by side as the Fragmenter-, Poison-, and Disintegrator-Rahkshi approached. Behind them, Gali led Takua and Jaller down the steps toward the lower temple.
“This way!” she cried.
Lewa summoned a whirlwind, sending it spinning down to grab the sand from the Amaja Circle. The sand cycloned feverishly, enveloping the advancing Rahkshi. Tahu crossed his swords, sending a blast of fire into the swirling sandstorm. The sand particles glowed red, then white-hot. When Tahu and Lewa both lowered their arms, their creation remained – the Rahkshi were trapped from the neck down in a prison of glass!
In the lower temple, the other three Rahkshi moved toward Gali and her charges, cutting off their escape. The ground between them suddenly rumbled and exploded. Three figures erupted out of the quake, landing beside Gali and the others.
Gali cried out in amazement as she recognized the Ice, Earth, and Stone Toa. “Brothers!” she shouted to Pohatu and Onua. “We thought we lost you.”
“You might have, but for our frosty friend,” Onua replied, gesturing toward Kopaka.
Kopaka shrugged. “It was… on the way.”
Gali raised an eyebrow. “Kopaka had to dig out the chief miner?”
Onua looked sheepish. “Well, he needs to get his hands dirty from time to time.”
The Hunger-, Anger-, and Fear-Rahkshi had recovered from the surprise of the Toa’s arrival. They advanced again, hissing menacingly.
The Anger-Rahkshi banged its staff on the ground, sending a ring of dark anger energy toward the Toa. But the energy passed right through them, leaving them untouched. The Rahkshi hissed in surprise.
“Our anger is no more, Rahkshi,” Tahu said. “We are united!”
Lewa and Pohatu leaped into action, somersaulting around the three Rahkshi faster than the eye could follow. The creatures swung their staffs wildly at their tumbling foes – but wound up striking one another instead!
The Fear-Rahkshi squealed in dismay as the Hunger-Rahkshi’s staff hit it. Its fear energy drained from its body, sending it tumbling helplessly to the ground.
The Hunger-Rahkshi hissed. Turning away from the circling Toa, it leaped toward Takua and Jaller. In the blink of an eye, Tahu and Gali joined together and summoned their elemental powers. A blast of steam burst from their tools, catching the Hunger-Rahkshi in its mighty stream and lifting it into the air.
The Toa moved in on the Anger-Rahkshi. The creature backed away, hissing in frustration.
Behind the Toa, the Fear-Rahkshi stirred. Its eyes began to glow as energy flowed back into its body. The creature climbed to its feet and started up the steps toward Takua and Jaller.
The Toa didn’t notice. All of their attention was focused on the Anger-Rahkshi in front of them. “Now,” Tahu shouted. “As one!”
The others knew what to do.
Onua slammed the ground, sending a wave of earth toward the Anger-Rahkshi.
Pohatu transformed the rolling wave of earth into a wave of boulders.
Tahu transformed the boulders into a wave of lava, which broke over the Rahkshi, enveloping it.
The Anger-Rahkshi tried to escape the lava. But suddenly the jet of steam dissipated, sending the Hunger-Rahkshi plunging back to earth – right on top of the Anger-Rahkshi!
Kopaka jumped forward, striking the lava with his sword and instantly freezing it solid. Both the Hunger- and Anger-Rahkshi were frozen along with it.
Tahu stepped toward them, examining the Toa’s handiwork. “They’ve been trapped before and were still able to escape,” he reminded the others.
Kopaka leaned in, yanking the kraata out of the Rahkshi’s armored bodies. “Not this time.”
A frightened squeal erupted from somewhere above. Glancing up, the Toa were just in time to see Pewku tumble down the steps, tossed aside by the Fear-Rahkshi. The creature turned with a hiss, backing Takua and Jaller up the steps.
“Hang on!” Gali shouted.
Takua looked down, trying to see the Toa. Instead, his gaze caught the beam of dark fear energy emanating from the Rahkshi’s staff. He fell to his knees, instantly transfixed.
The Fear-Rahkshi rose up on its long legs, towering over Takua. It swung its staff toward the helpless Matoran.
But Jaller had seen what was happening. He leaped forward, swinging the kolhii stick he was holding.
Takua snapped out of his fear trance as Jaller intercepted the Rahkshi’s blow. “Jaller!” he screamed as dark energy sizzled through his friend’s body.
The Fear-Rahkshi turned toward him, its eyes glittering wickedly. But before it could strike again, Gali and Pohatu leaped in and grabbed it by the arms.
Takua dropped the mask, racing over and cradling his fallen friend. “What have you done?” he cried as Jaller’s eyes dimmed. “I’m supposed to make the sacrifice! I’m the Herald!”
“No,” Jaller said weakly. “The duty was mine. You know…” He paused, gathering the last scraps of his fading strength. He took in a ragged breath.
“…who you are,” he whispered faintly. Stretching out his hand, he picked up the Mask of Light and put it in Takua’s hands. “You were always different.”
Jaller’s hand dropped limply onto the stone. Gently lowering his friend’s head to the ground, Takua stood, lifting the mask. It glowed more brightly than ever.
Takua stood still for a moment, his eyes distant.
Nearby, the Fear-Rahkshi struggled free of Gali’s and Pohatu’s grip. The two Toa lost their footing and tumbled down the steps, crashing into the other Toa, who were on their way to help.
Takua turned the mask over in his hands again. His eyes narrowed purposefully. As he lifted it to his face, the mask’s glow brightened again. As it made contact with his own mask, it burst forth with brilliant beams of white light.
He was the Seventh Toa!
He could feel his body transforming as the mask’s power flooded through him. He became taller, stronger, brighter. Light emanated from him, freezing the Fear-Rahkshi in its tracks.
The other six Toa gazed up at him in awe. They fell to their knees.
“Hail, brother Toa!” they said in one voice.
Takua stared at his own hand, which glowed white-hot with light energy. He picked up Jaller’s kolhii stick, and a small spark jumped from his hand to the stick, transforming it into the Kolhii Staff of Light.
He turned to face the other Toa, his eyes filled with awe and power. “I am Takanuva,” he declared. “Toa of Light!”
As the white light bursting from him illuminated the entire temple, he bent and picked up Jaller’s body. He carried it down the steps past the other Toa. Each of them raised his or her weapon in salute, then followed the Toa of Light with their heads solemnly bowed.
The next morning, Takanuva stood gazing down at the suva-style grave dome that had been raised in a quiet spot overlooking the Kini-Nui temple. A memorial pillar rose from the top of the dome, and Jaller’s mask rested upon it.
Turaga Vakama stepped toward the Toa of Light. “You have finally found your own story,” he said quietly, “and still you seek answers.”
Takanuva stared at Jaller’s mask. “All this, just to discover who I am?”
Vakama shrugged. “Mata Nui is wiser than all,” he replied. “The path you walked was not to be here…” He paused and gestured at the temple. “But here.” He tapped Takanuva on the chest. “You understand you have but one destiny.”
Lewa helped Tahu attach a pipe to the vehicle they were building. “How will this wayfind the Makuta?” he asked.
Takanuva stepped forward, holding the six kraata in his fist. “What is the Makuta’s shall return to him.” He inserted the kraata into the slot they’d created for that purpose. They writhed angrily in their restraints.
Tahu looked up at the vehicle, which they were calling an Ussanui. They had created it out of parts of the defeated Rahkshi. Would it work?
Before long, all seven Toa were gathered around the completed Ussanui vehicle. Hahli walked up to them, carefully carrying Jaller’s mask.
“Jaller was your Herald,” she told Takanuva solemnly. “Let him continue to lead you to victory.”
She stepped to the front of the vehicle, attaching the mask to it. Takanuva nodded.
“Well said, Hahli,” he told her.
Pohatu cocked his head at the vehicle curiously. “Not much room in this transport,” he said. “Where will we all sit, brother?”
Takanuva shook his head. “You won’t,” he replied. “You shall not join me.”
The other Toa reacted with surprise. “But united, our power defeated the Rahkshi!” Pohatu reminded him.
Tahu nodded. “Certainly it will take nothing less to defeat Makuta!”
Takanuva turned away from them, staring at the transport. “I have but one destiny,” he said. “Yours lie with the Matoran and the Turaga. Gather them and wait for my return.”
He stepped forward, climbing into the Ussanui vehicle. At last, he turned to look at the Toa gathered below.
“Farewell,” he told them.
The Ussanui rocketed through the tunnels beneath the Kini-Nui. Takanuva held on grimly, not thinking or moving. Just waiting.
Finally the Ussanui rounded another corner. An immense door blocked the tunnel, but the vehicle never slowed. It crashed straight into the door, cracking it open before bouncing off, skidding to a halt at last.
Takanuva opened his eyes. As he climbed out of the wrecked vehicle, there was a rattling sound behind him.
His eyes widened in amazement as a piece of the damaged vehicle was tossed aside and a familiar figure climbed out from the wreckage.
“Hahli!” Takanuva cried.
Hahli walked to the front of the vehicle and removed Jaller’s mask. “Let me be your Chronicler,” she told Takanuva with determination in her voice.
Takanuva hesitated, then nodded. Reaching into the wreckage long enough to pull out the six kraata, he turned and stepped through the cracked door into the dark chamber beyond.