“And so we found the island of Mata Nui, though it was not so called then,” Turaga Nokama finished. “The Great Spirit had watched over us and helped us to find a place where the Matoran could live in peace once more.”
“Then the carving I found in the underwater tunnel during my search for the Kanohi Nuva masks… the one of the six mysterious Toa –?” Gali Nuva began.
“That was the carving I made, long ago,” said Nokama. “I led you there because I wanted you to find it, Gali. I wanted you to see you are not alone. You are part of a great tradition. There were heroes before you came, Toa of Water, and others will rise after your destiny is fulfilled.”
Tahu Nuva spoke then, clearly uncomfortable about what he had to say. “I thank you for sharing your tale, Turaga. But my questions are still unanswered. You arrived on Mata Nui with only five Matoran, leaving so many behind in the depths of the city. How, then, did so many come to live here? Did they awaken and escape the city?”
Turaga Nuju clicked and whistled angrily at the Toa of Fire. Matoro looked at Turaga Nokama. “Do I have to translate that?” he asked. “I mean… he’s a Toa, and when he gets angry, things burn.”
“I am guessing Toa Tahu understands the spirit, if not the meaning, of Nuju’s comments,” Nokama replied. “I suppose all this is our own fault – first, for keeping secrets from you, and then for believing we could share some of our past while keeping other doors shut to you.”
She turned to Nuju. “We should have remembered, my friend, that Toa cannot stand a closed door.”
“Then there is more to the tale,” said Tahu Nuva. “Why won’t you reveal it?”
“Because it is not her tale to tell.”
All present turned to see Turaga Vakama approaching. His expression was grim. Feeling the power and the wisdom that radiated from him, it was hard to believe he had ever been an uncertain Matoran forced into a hero’s role.
“Tell me, Toa of Fire, of what are you most afraid?” the Turaga asked.
Tahu Nuva thought back on all the enemies he had faced: Makuta, the Bohrok, the Bahrag, the Bohrok-Kal, the Rahi, the Rahkshi. He remembered all the battles, lost and won, all the mysteries solved, all the dangers he had faced and overcome. But no easy answer to Vakama’s question came to mind.
“If you fear nothing at all,” said the Turaga, “then you are a fool and you will not understand my tale. It would be a waste of time to tell it.”
In times past, Tahu would have reacted to such words with rage. But he had learned much about himself during the battle with Makuta and the Rahkshi. When he spoke, it was firmly and quietly. “Ignorance, Turaga.”
“I worry… I am afraid… that one day I might lead my friends into danger – even cost them their lives – because I did not know all that I should have known.”
Vakama smiled. “Then you are not a fool, Tahu. You are a leader, for that is what every leader dreads. I hope it is a nightmare you will never see come true.”
At Vakama’s words, Nokama and Nuju had turned away. There had been something in the tone of them that clutched at Gali’s heart. For a moment, she wished that she could block all sound and not have to listen to the stories to come.
“You have heard tales of betrayal and hope,” said Vakama. “Of power lost and power gained. From my lips, you have learned of the paradise that was the city of Metru Nui. Through my stories, you have faced Makuta once more, when his darkness was newly born.”
The Turaga shook his head sadly. “But you know nothing of what that city became… nothing of true shadow… and nothing of the terrible choices a hero must make. Choices that must haunt his every waking hour for centuries.”
Vakama looked up. In his eyes, Tahu could see some of the fire that had once been there when he was a Toa Metru, long ago.
“So this is what I will do for you, Tahu Nuva,” the Turaga said. “I will tell you another tale, you and all of your fellow heroes of Mata Nui. I will spare no detail. And when I am done, you will have a choice. If you wish me to be silent, I will say no more and you can be content with what you know.”
Vakama’s tone grew as dark as Makuta’s lair. “Or bid me speak on, Toa of Fire, and I will reveal to you the shapes in the shadows, and the true meaning of fear.”
The Turaga turned and walked away, leaving Tahu, Gali and Kopaka to ponder the meaning of his words.