Turaga Vakama rose, signaling that his tale had come to an end. Takanuva, the Toa of Light, stood as well, smiling. “What a wonderful story!” he said. “The six of you started out as Matoran, just like I did, and became heroes. I bet the whole city turned out to cheer for you!”

Vakama chuckled. “You are attaching a happy ending to my tale, Takanuva, because you wish there to be one. But there is much more to tell.”

“You had a vision when you first became a Toa,” said Tahu, Toa of Fire. “A vision of disaster. Did defeating the Morbuzakh spare the city from that terrible event?”

“It spared the city from the Morbuzakh,” said Turaga Vakama. “We believed that was enough. Our world was very simple, Tahu, with good on one side and evil on the other.”

“What’s wrong with that?” asked Onua, Toa of Earth. “I mean, we Toa challenged the Rahi and many other threats to this island. We fought for justice and to defend the Matoran and their villages. We stood up for the light and defeated the darkness that rose against us.”

“You are very wise, Onua,” said Vakama. “But you have only the wisdom of your experience. That is why you are here now – to gain the wisdom of mine.”

There was an uncomfortable silence, broken finally by Takanuva. “It’s late. I suppose we should leave Turaga Vakama to his rest. There will be time tomorrow for another tale. There is another tale to tell, isn’t there, Turaga?”

“Oh, yes, Takanuva,” said Vakama. A dark one indeed, he added to himself.

The Toa departed, all but Gali, Toa of Water. She had always been sensitive to others’ moods, and she could tell that Vakama was troubled. It was more than just confronting the memories of his past. It seemed as if there were some terrible secret he knew he must share, but dreaded doing so.

“Why do you tell these tales, Turaga?” she asked softly. “Is it only to prepare us for the journey to Metru Nui, and what we may encounter there?”

“You already know the answer,” he said, “or you would not ask the question. No, there is a great difference between the Toa Nuva that you are, and the Toa Metru that we Turaga were long ago. Your enemies hide in the shadows, but you know they are there. They make no effort to hide the darkness in their hearts. For us, it was… different.”

“But you were strong,” she said. “You triumphed. You had the three virtues to guide you – Unity, Duty, Destiny.”

“Yes, we six had done our duty, we believed,” Vakama said, with a trace of sadness in his voice. “And we felt certain we had achieved our destiny. But our unity? That still remained to be forged in the fires of danger, far greater danger than we had known before.”

Vakama leaned on his firestaff. Not for the first time, Gali found it hard to believe that the Turaga had once been a mighty Toa Metru. “You see, Toa of Water, we believed that we knew all we needed to know to be heroes. We could challenge an enemy, outwit it, defeat it, save Matoran, even save a city. Oh, we still needed training in our powers and we still had to master our masks. But being a hero? There was nothing left for us to learn there, we felt sure.”

Vakama looked at Gali. She understood now that his eyes had seen a greater darkness than any Toa Nuva could comprehend. What happened on Metru Nui? she wondered.

“We thought we knew it all. But we were wrong, Gali, so very wrong. Our true lessons were about to begin.”

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