Turaga Nuju walked alone down a winding, rocky pathway that led to the sea. He had no doubt he would find Vakama on the beach, gazing out at the horizon. For a Turaga of Fire, Vakama spent an awful lot of time by the water.
Nuju felt uncomfortable. Ordinarily, he never ventured forth without Matoro, his assistant and translator, by his side. In the centuries since Nuju had abandoned use of the Matoran language, Matoro’s full-time job had been rendering the Turaga’s speech understandable to others. The Matoran had been present for even the most confidential councils of the Turaga. He had heard things that must have shocked him. But he never repeated a word of what he had heard to anyone.
Matoro’s sense of duty to his Turaga was so strong that he never even asked why Nuju was going somewhere without him. Perhaps he realized it was not intended as any insult, but was rather an act of mercy on Nuju’s part.
He carries a heavy burden, thought the Turaga. To know so many secrets and be forbidden to share them with his friends, even when that knowledge might benefit them. In that way, Matoro has the strength of a Toa. I will not add to his burden today.
Nuju came over a rise and saw Vakama standing at the edge of the sea. For the last several days, the elder of the village of Fire had been sharing tales of the past with the Toa Nuva. He had related how six Matoran were mysteriously turned into heroes, the Toa Metru, and fought to save their city of Metru Nui. When the city was badly damaged and its population cast into an endless sleep by the actions of the evil Makuta, the Toa Metru had escaped with a small number of Matoran and made it to this island.
But the Toa Nuva were not satisfied with what they had learned. They wanted to know how the rest of the Matoran escaped Metru Nui. And Vakama was preparing to tell them.
Up to now, I have been content to let him share his tales, thought Nuju. But he is about to go too far.
The Turaga of Ice stalked across the sand, whistling and chirping angrily. Vakama turned, surprised, and held out his hands.
“Slow down,” he said. “You know I can’t understand you when you shout.”
Nuju made a series of violent slashing motions in the air, followed by a short burst of whistles. When he was finished, he glared at Vakama as if daring him to disagree.
“I know it is probably not wise,” the Turaga of Fire answered. “I am on the verge of sharing stories of a time we would all rather forget, myself most of all. But wisdom and necessity often do not walk side by side.”
Nuju chirped loudly five times in rapid succession. To anyone else, it would have sounded like the language of the birds in the trees of Le-Wahi. But Vakama knew the tone was one of frustration about to boil over.
“No one says you and the other Turaga must sit in council while I tell our story,” he said. “But you may be called upon to explain your absence someday.”
The Turaga of Ice picked up a rock and hurled it with all his might into the water. Then he walked away, eyes on the ground, as if wrestling with an enormously difficult decision.
When he turned back, Nuju looked directly into Vakama’s eyes. And for the first time that Vakama could remember in many, many years, Nuju spoke a Matoran word. It was a mere three syllables, but it was a terrible sound, a word not uttered by any Turaga in over a thousand years.
Vakama’s reply was a whisper. “Yes. If I must… the Toa Nuva will learn the truth about the Hordika.”
Nuju shook his head and walked away. Vakama was left behind to wonder if their friendship had just come to an end.
The Toa Nuva waited impatiently around the Amaja circle for Vakama to arrive. At the Turaga’s request, the only Matoran present were Matoro, who translated Nuju’s clicks and whistles into speech, and Hahli, in her role as the new Chronicler. Takanuva, Toa of Light, sat next to Hahli, looking uncomfortable. Not having been a Toa for very long, he still felt strange about being part of these councils.
Pohatu Nuva, Toa of Stone, noted that his Turaga was absent. He couldn’t imagine why Onewa would not have wanted to be here, or why Turaga Nuju sat apart from the other elders. But it seemed that ever since Vakama had promised to share at least one more tale, there had been a great strain among the Turaga. It filled Pohatu’s heart with apprehension. What were they about to hear?
Vakama stepped out of the shadows to take his seat. Yet, to Pohatu’s eyes, it seemed he did not leave the darkness completely behind. His mood was grim. He nodded to Tahu Nuva, but never once looked at the other Turaga.
“Hear, then, my tale,” he began softly. “When the Toa Metru first beheld the island we now call Mata Nui, it was like nothing we had ever seen before. Peaceful, beautiful, bathed in sunlight, we could not have hoped for a more wonderful home.
“But even as we explored, we knew that duty would soon require us to leave this place behind…”