Whenua wore the same smile as he finished his story. “You see, Onua remembered the past even when I did not. The Toa are wise… wise enough to understand.”
“You trusted your Toa, and he trusted you,” Onewa replied. “But do they trust one another?”
Vakama glanced at Onewa, then at Matau. “Our brother of stone speaks the truth, though I am sorry to say it. There is little friendship left among the Toa, it seems.”
“Do not be so quickjumping, Vakama,” Matau, the Turaga of Le-Koro, answered. “There is much you do not know. Let me tell my tale of Toa and trust…”
Lewa Nuva, Toa of Air, stood at the edge of a cliff overlooking the lush domain of Le-Wahi. Hidden in the jungle below was his village, Le-Koro, only recently rebuilt after being leveled by the Bohrok.
He shuddered a little at the memory. The day the insectlike Lehvak swarm succeeded in sweeping away the village was the same day they captured him, removed his Mask of Power, and used one of their parasitic krana to make him one of them. He could have resisted, of course, but the Lehvak had already taken over Turaga Matau and the Le-Matoran. Challenging the Bohrok might have placed his friends in danger.
He closed his eyes and did his best to drive the memories away. For a brief time, his mind had been filled with thoughts that were not his own. They were the voices of the swarm, commanding him to help them complete their task on Mata Nui. Had it not been for Onua’s timely rescue, Lewa knew he might still be a servant of the Bohrok.
It had taken him a long time to feel comfortable after that. The other Toa, particularly Tahu, treated him differently. Some felt sorry for him; others seemed nervous that he might turn against them. Now, when he finally felt like the old Lewa again, his power over air was gone. Once more, as he journeyed through this land he knew so well, he felt lost.
That was what had brought him to the cliff. In the days since his power disappeared, he had not attempted to glide on the air. Before, he could command the wind to keep him flying. Now it would not listen to him. Wisdom said he should keep to the trees and the vines… or worse, walk on the ground! But the day he did that, he knew, would be the day he stopped being a Toa.
He fitted his twin air katana onto his arms and legs, turning them into glider wings. The breeze was right. If all went well, he would soar over the jungle and land in the heart of Le-Koro. He took a step forward…
Startled, Lewa almost fell. He fought to keep his balance, not easy with the glider wings in place. Then a hand grabbed his and pulled him back from the edge.
It was Turaga Matau, looking concerned. “Word is deepwood that you are seeking Kanohi Nuva Masks. There are no power-masks here. Only mountain-rock.”
“I know, Turaga,” said Lewa. “But I have been treebound for too many suns now. It is time to ride the wind again.”
Matau laughed. “Is this a day for sunsoaring? Very well, then. You will find your Toa-brother on the groundpath below. Try not to hardland on him.”
Another Toa in Le-Wahi? Yes, now that Lewa thought of it, there was something new in the wind. The scent of… smoke.
“Yes, and hot-fire, too,” said Matau. “Enough to darkash Le-Koro again, if someone does not stop it.”
The Turaga said the words lightly, but there was no mistaking their meaning. Le-Koro was in danger again. No matter the cause, Lewa would not fail his village a second time. He stepped to the edge of the cliff, took a deep breath, and launched himself into the wind.
At first, he had a hard time holding steady. Gusts blew him about like a leaf, up above the mountain and then down almost to the treetops. The smell of fire was much stronger now, but Lewa still could not see any flames.
He shifted his body to try and turn right. The wind had other ideas, blowing him toward the left and into a spiral toward the ground. By instinct, he tried to summon the air currents to carry him high again. But the air would no more listen to him these days than it would to Gali or…
Of course. It must be the Toa of Fire down below. If smoke was in the wind, did that mean he had somehow regained his powers? Lewa had to know. There was no more time for testing his flying. He triggered the power of the Mask of Levitation and floated gently to the ground.
Lewa did not like being on the flat earth. Yes, it was better than being in the water, which he positively hated. But he always felt clumsy when he “groundwalked,” not like when he was swinging through the trees.
Lewa loped along the path, following the scent of fire. He could hear the crackling sound of the flames feeding on old branches. He hoped it was not the trees of Le-Koro that were burning.
Coming around a rock, he saw Tahu. The Toa of Fire was standing in front of a blaze, magma swords in hand. Lewa recognized his stance. Tahu was trying to stop the fire by drawing the flames into his swords, but it was not working. His power, too, was gone.
Lewa rushed over to him. At first, Tahu did not seem to notice the other Toa. Lewa had to grab his arm to get his attention. “Tahu! Trying to quickburn the jungle, Fire Toa?”
Tahu shook him off. “Toa of Fire? Toa of nothing! I no longer command the flames, Lewa.”
A small group of Le-Matoran scurried into the clearing and began shoveling earth on the fire to put it out. Lewa led his brother Toa away. “We all face the same hardluck, Tahu. But it’s no time for angershouts. Why have you come to Le-Koro?”
Tahu looked at the Toa of Air. He had always liked Lewa, even if their ideas about being a Toa were very different – Lewa saw it as fun and adventure, Tahu as a serious task. But so much had changed in the last few weeks: Lewa taken over by the Bohrok, the Toa Nuva splitting apart, now the loss of all their powers. Tahu was no longer certain what – or who – he could trust.
“It is… not your concern, brother,” replied Tahu. “I will not be in your region long. Once I have what I have come for, I will be on my way.”
“If you search for something in my lands, then a wayfinder you must have,” said Lewa brightly. “And a wayfinder I shall be. Turaga Vakama has told you where a mask can be found?”
“Two,” said Tahu, already walking away. “I would welcome your company, Toa of Air.”
That way I can keep an eye on you, the Toa of Fire added to himself.
Of all the regions of Mata Nui, Le-Wahi was easily the most difficult to travel through. The air was heavy with rain and the ground was mostly mud. The farther one went into the heart of the wahi, the denser the jungle growth became. Even for Toa, hacking through vines every step of the way was exhausting.
However, if Tahu and Lewa were tired, the sight that met their eyes in the center of the swamp was enough to wake them up. A grove of trees had been torn out of the ground, roots and all, and piled on top of one another to block the path.
An even worse surprise waited when Tahu tried to lift one of the trees. Even without the Great Mask of Strength, a Toa should have been able to toss a swamp tree aside. But this one felt like it weighed twice as much as Mount Ihu. After three tries, Tahu gave up.
“Nuhvok-Kal has been here,” he said. “This is its work.”
“How could a Bohrok-Kal do this?”
“It controls gravity, Lewa. First it makes the trees so light that they float out of the ground… then so heavy that they crash to earth and cannot be moved. You, of all Toa, should know that.”
Lewa stiffened. When he spoke, the normally light tone of his voice was gone, replaced by anger. “No. I did not choose the Bohrok dark-time I lived through. I do not know where the Bohrok-Kal are or what they are doing.”
Tahu leaned in close until their masks almost touched and said harshly, “How do I know that? How do I know your ‘wayfinding’ is not leading me into an ambush?”
“If I were your enemy, you would be lateknowing. Better to worrythink about the Nuhvok-Kal.”
Tahu frowned. He could not help being suspicious of Lewa, whose mind had so recently been controlled by their enemies, the Bohrok. None of the other Toa knew that Tahu, too, had once lost a mask and had it replaced with a krana. Although he had not worn it long enough to be absorbed into the swarm, he knew how powerful the krana could be. Sometimes the Toa of Fire worried that his decision to split up the team might have been caused by the Bohrok somehow.
“All right, then,” Tahu said, backing off. “The Kal knows we need the Masks of Power, so it’s probably heading for the same spot we are. We find it; we capture it; and we make it give our powers back.”
Lewa began to scale the barrier, climbing effortlessly over the stacked trees. “You are heartfeeling, brother, not headthinking. Nuhvok-Kal is not so easy to capture. Take one step toward it and you are highflying or groundbound.”
Tahu began to climb, but it was not quite as easy for him as it had been for Lewa. Once he slipped and almost fell back to the bottom, which did nothing to improve his mood. “Do you have a better idea, Lewa? Perhaps if we ask the Nuhvok-Kal to give us back our Toa powers, it will agree to think about it.”
“Think about it…?” Lewa repeated. Then he jumped from the top of the barrier, went into a roll on landing, and leaped up into a tree. “Mata Nui! What a quicksmart idea, brother!”
Tahu reached the top of the barrier and looked at Lewa as if his brother Toa had turned into a giant swamp lizard. “I am beginning to wonder, Lewa, if the Toa of Air has too much of it inside his head. What idea?”
Lewa was now springing from one branch to another almost faster than the eye could follow. “Have you ever seen a Nui-Jaga at a bog snake nest?”
Tahu shook his head. He knew that the giant, scorpionlike Nui-Jaga liked to feast on bog snakes, but he had never witnessed it. He swatted aside a swarm of insects and snapped, “No, and what does that have to do with anything?”
“Nui-Jaga very hugebig,” answered Lewa from high atop a tree. Then he jumped off, flipped over and over, and landed on a lower branch. “Bog snakes are many, but small. So what to do when hungry Rahi comes around?”
Lewa dropped to the ground in front of Tahu. “Bog snakes come from in front, behind, uptree, downtree, all at once. Nui-Jaga gets confused. Too many for even sharpstinger to stop. Understand now?”
Tahu had to admit that this was a rare case where he did understand exactly what Lewa was saying.
The two Toa began to plan. Lewa sent a message back to Le-Koro, instructing Turaga Matau to gather as many vinesmen and windriders as possible and send them to the Toa. Meanwhile, Tahu went to scout ahead and see if he could spot the Nuhvok-Kal.
When he returned, Lewa was already putting the Matoran to work. The green-masked villagers were up in the trees all around, tying off branches, readying rocks, and rigging nets made of vine. Tahu was impressed.
“They work hard, brother. You should be proud of them.”
Lewa smiled. “They learn from lifedawn that he who climbs fastest and highest will get the sweetest fruit. And… they have special reason to want any Bohrok stopped.”
Tahu looked around. Of the dozens and dozens of trees that surrounded the clearing, not one was empty. Even if no Matoran was visible, the rustle of branches said one was at work turning the jungle into a giant Bohrok-Kal trap.
The idea was a simple one. Nuhvok-Kal was incredibly powerful, but all power has some limit. Come at the Kal from different directions, like the bog snakes do the Nui-Jaga, and make it use its power again and again. With luck, it would reach its limit. If not…
“What happens if this doesn’t work, Toa Tahu?” The question came from Kongu, one of the Le-Koro Matoran.
“It has to,” Tahu replied.
“It will,” said Lewa. “Now we just have to lure the Nuhvok-Kal to this spot.”
“We will need some clever trick,” said Tahu. “Some bait it cannot resist.”
Lewa turned to the Toa of Fire with a broad smile. “Make sure you shoutloud so the Kal can hear you, brother.”
Nuhvok-Kal was angry. Its mission was to find and free the trapped queens of the Bohrok swarms, and it wanted to be doing that. But Tahnok-Kal had ordered that the Kanohi Nuva masks be found and hidden so the Toa could not use them.
Nuhvok-Kal had been searching for the masks since first light, with no luck. It did not like the jungle. Too many places for enemies to hide. Not that anything on this island could threaten a Bohrok-Kal.
“Creature!” boomed the voice of the Toa of Fire. “Turn and face justice for your deeds!”
Nuhvok-Kal wheeled around to see Tahu, magma swords drawn. Far from being a frightening sight, the Kal would have laughed if it were able. Instead, its harsh voice hissed, “Toa Tahu! I thought I smelled the scent of failure somewhere nearby.”
“Then perhaps you should bathe more often, Bohrok,” Tahu replied. “Are the powerful Kal now searching the jungle for scraps? Or are you just lost?”
The Kal didn’t respond with words. Instead, it lifted its shield and sent waves of gravitic energy at the Toa of Fire. Rocks and trees, freed of the bonds of gravity, began to float into the air all around Tahu. Slowly, they drifted together until they were hovering just above the Toa’s head.
Tahu flipped backward a split second before Nuhvok-Kal increased gravity by a hundred times. Stone and wood slammed into the ground where he had been standing, coming down so hard they buried themselves deep in the mud.
The Toa of Fire scrambled to his feet and shouted, “Follow me, Bohrok! Perhaps we can find more rocks for you to throw!”
Then Tahu raced away, heading for the clearing where Lewa waited. He knew Nuhvok-Kal was following, for he could feel his legs growing heavier with each step. If the Bohrok-Kal got any closer, its power would root Tahu to the ground and the plan would fail.
The Toa of Fire’s only chance was the unexpected. He raced up a slope, leaped, and grabbed a tree branch. He spun around the branch to build up momentum. At the peak of his motion, he let go and shot forward like a Matoran disk.
He almost missed the vine he was shooting for, grabbing it at the last moment. Tahu swung out over the jungle, letting go of one vine only to grab another. He could hear trees falling behind him as the Bohrok-Kal continued the chase.
One final swing brought Tahu into the clearing. Halfway through his arc, he let go and landed hard in the mud. Lewa rushed over, not sure whether to be stunned or amused at the sight of the Toa of Fire as a vineswinger.
“Don’t say a word,” Tahu warned.
“I wouldn’t thinkdream of it,” said Lewa, trying hard to hide a smile. “Everything is ready.”
“Good. It’s right behind me.”
The two Toa split up, each rushing to a different side of the clearing. The Nuhvok-Kal burst through the trees a second later, shouting, “Toa! You cannot escape from the Bohrok-Kal!”
Lewa thrust his air katana into the air. “Now!” he yelled, and chaos was unleashed.
From all around the clearing, Matoran slung disks and stones and branches, all aimed right at the intruder. Nuhvok-Kal reacted by reflex, using its power to erase gravity from each and every object thrown. But even as they floated toward the sky, more came to replace them. The Bohrok-Kal spun around frantically, trying to keep track of everything coming its way.
Lewa waved to get Tahu’s attention. “Brother! I can quicksteal his krana-kal!”
Tahu shouted, “No! Wait!” but it was too late. Lewa had already broken into a run, leaped… and went crashing to the ground when Nuhvok-Kal’s power struck him. He lay at the Bohrok-Kal’s feet, pinned to the ground by the weight of gravity.
Tahu started forward to rescue him… then paused. What if Lewa was still being controlled by the Bohrok? What if this was all a trick? Could he trust a Toa who had been a part of the swarm such a short time ago? The whole trap had been Lewa’s idea… but who was meant to be caught in the snare?
All of this ran through the Toa of Fire’s mind in an instant. His answer came to him even more quickly. He could not – would not – turn his back on a brother Toa, no matter what.
He charged. Nuhvok-Kal turned to face him and unleashed his devastating power. But Tahu was already gone, leaping and spinning in the air, striking the falling stones with his magma swords. One rock crashed into another, sending it hurtling into a third, all moving too fast for even the Bohrok-Kal’s eyes to follow. No sooner did the Kal send its power against one stone than it was ricocheting off of three more, all scattering in different directions.
In all of this, Lewa was not forgotten. Tahu hit the ground, grabbed the Toa of Air, and carried him to the safety of the trees. “Stay here!” he ordered. “I will deal with the Kal.”
But Nuhvok-Kal had had enough. As Lewa had predicted, the constant rain of rock and wood and the effort to stop it all had exhausted the Bohrok-Kal’s power. It stumbled into the jungle, using its last reserves to bring trees down behind it to slow pursuit.
Tahu started after him, but Lewa called, “Wait, Tahu. Let it go. There will be another clashtime to settle with the Kal.”
The Toa of Fire wanted to argue… but hadn’t he just realized he had to trust Lewa? He turned back and said, “You may be right. Are you ready to travel? We have Kanohi Masks to find, after all, my brother.”
Together, the two Toa headed into the jungle, Tahu walking, Lewa swinging through the trees. “How can you groundwalk, Tahu, now that you have vineswung?”
“I leave the trees to you, brother. And if you ever tell anyone about that, I’ll –”
“Our secret,” answered Lewa. “Heartswear. But next time, work on that hardland, brother…”
Then the Toa of Air’s laughter could be heard all over Le-Wahi… and the Toa of Fire’s, too.