IC: Ferron (Ferron's Forge)
"I'm afraid no one in particular springs to mind, sorry to say" Ferron answered apologetically.
"Pleasure doing business with you, all the same," he said, "I'll be glad to service you in the future"
I nod, pay, and leave with my sign.
OOC: Open for interaction!
IC: Tukeli (interacting with Arero)
How long had it been since she had last stepped foot in the tunnels of Onu-Wahi? Years, at least. Too many for Tukeli to count. To be honest, things had been so hectic recently that she'd lost track of time... there was no telling how long it had been, and surely no one here would recognize her... maybe that was for the best. After all, she wasn't a Matoran anymore.
But what was she doing here, anyway? To be honest... not even Tukeli was sure. She had been lurking in Le-Wahi for so long, but now she was about as far away from the treetops of Le-Koro as she could get. Maybe she just needed a change of scenery for a little while. Above all, Tukeli was looking for a purpose. She didn't feel quite as connected to Le-Koro as she used to, and with no other goal in mind, she had wandered here. If she didn't find what she was looking for, Tuki could always return to the jungle. If she did, though... well... she didn't want to get her hopes up. It felt oddly lonely without Kiru at her side... he hated tunnels, so she had to leave her Gukko friend behind. Well, she would manage.
As she wandered through the Koro, Tukeli spotted a Po-Matoran. She wasn't sure what he was doing here, but she was curious, so approached him slowly. She waved at him and offered a small smile. "Hello."
IC: Arero (Onu-Koro)
Her wave is what makes me nervous. It’s one of those waves that says hey I’m dying to ask you a question and want to interact but don’t really want to be a bother can you please reply, and her smile makes it more obvious. She looks like a traveler from above ground, carrying a well-worn backpack, a dirty scarf, and odds and ends decorating her person. Maybe she’s lost?
“Um, good afternoon,” I say politely. Should I have added toa-hero? She has a Le-Koro vibe, something to do with the greenery draped over her. She’s close enough now that I have to look up to see her face. She wears a hau, which reminds me of someone in Ga-Koro. If they’re anything alike, I definitely should have added toa-hero. Or Vice Captain.
My basket feels heavier with my newly bought sign sticking out. I try to adjust my hold as if I’m rocking a baby ussal crab to sleep, but the wicker slips out of my fumbling grasp. I dive for the basket, then for a glove as it slips off from the friction. The sign clangs as it lands in the dirt. The freshly baked scones fall from their towel wrapping and roll a few feet away. I can only hope she was paying attention to my stuff, not me down on my knees trying to collect it all. Yes, very impressive. Very smooth. Who am I kidding?
“Karz blast it,” I grumble while attempting to regain some sense of composure and collect my belongings. “Of course this would happen.”
IC: Tukeli (interacting with Arero)
Tukeli looked down at the Po-Matoran, a soft smile still on her face. He seemed nice enough, if not a little different than the Matoran she was used to spending time with. Centuries of living in Le-Koro, and Tukeli was used to others doing most of the talking. Le-Matoran were pretty social so she had gotten used to interacting with them... before that, she had struggled quite a bit. Tukeli used to be very shy, and sometimes, she still was She had never met a Po-Matoran before, though, so she wasn't entirely sure what to expect. Well, so far so good. If there was one thing she had learned, however, it paid to interact with others. You wouldn't learn anything by cowering in the corner. She just hoped that he wouldn't mind talking to her.
Suddenly, the stranger lost his grip on the basket he was carrying, and the contents tumbled out onto the street. Tukeli jumped in surprise, and gasped quietly. Quickly, she knelt down, hoping to lend a hand. The Ga-Toa picked up a few of the smaller items, placing them carefully in the basket, silently hoping that he didn't mind the help... some Matoran, she had learned, were proud and didn't like to accept help, especially after dropping something. Her eyes were then averted to the sign. She didn't know that it had been recently crafted, but the detail and quality of it didn't escape her. She picked it up carefully, and handed it to him. There was a hint of concern in her aqua-colored gaze.
"Um... are you alright, sir?" she asked quietly. "That's... an ever-fine sign you have." She glanced to the side awkwardly, before meeting his eye again. "I... I'm Tukeli. Would you like help carrying your things? If... if not, that's okay too." It couldn't hurt to offer, right..?
IC: Arero (Onu-Koro)
When I was very young someone I thought was important told me that life gives you what you need, not what you want. Their words came back to me while I bit my glove and tugged it back over my hand. Tukeli's offer is sweet, unexpected, and exactly what I need. I wipe some of the gravel off my legs as I stand up to accept my outstretched sign, now only head high with the crouched toa of water. Her aqua gaze is gentle and concerned.
"Thank you, toa-hero." I say, remembering to add the honorific. "It must be Wairuha's wisdom that brought us together. I'm Arero now of Onu-Koro, and I'd love your help. Sorry for the scare. I live just on the other side of the river past the bazaar. If you don't mind the trek and the work of installing my sign, I'll make some tea and you can have a scone if any survived the tumble."
Passing the sign back and letting her take the basket I begin to walk. I hope she doesn't try walking at a normal pace. I hate running after toa.
IC: Tukeli (interacting with Arero)
Normally, Tukeli was rather reserved with her emotions... the differences in her expressions were usually slight. However, she was surprised by how polite this Po-Matoran was, and she couldn't help but smile. There was almost an air of sophistication about him, and to be honest, she found it to be a little refreshing. She had never met anyone quite like him, and she found herself growing more curious about him.
When the word Toa-hero was spoken, however, Tukeli's became sheepish. She didn't think of herself very highly, so she tended to get a little embarrassed by the term. After all, she hadn't really done anything to deserve the title... at least not in her opinion. Not yet. However, Tukeli showed no sign of this, and simply smiled politely. "Sure. Whatever I can do to help." She found his second statement to be rather poetic, and comforting. Wairuha's wisdom... she would have to remember that one. "It's nice to meet you, Arero." She liked his name, too... it had a nice sound to it.
Gladly taking the basket, Tukeli followed the Po-Matoran a few steps behind him. She tried to match her pace with his; she'd been a Toa long enough to know that Matoran were not capable of the same speeds as her, and after all, she didn't know where they were going yet. As they walked through the Koro, she gazed around at the village's buildings, and the cavern surrounding it. It was a lot different from the home she was used to, but with the lightstones lighting the streets, she found it pleasurable, in an odd sort of way. She turned to Arero, and tried to make conversation. "So, have you been here long?"
IC: Arero (Onu-Koro)
I could really get used to someone else carrying my stuff. It's amazing how freeing it is to be able to walk without worrying about dropping things. Backpacks always ground my gears, literally, and I never had much luck in keeping ussals happy. Besides, it's not like I had the budget to afford a pet.
“Longer than some,” I say with a wink. Then, kicking a pebble a few yards down the road; “I moved here from the desert about two weeks ago. Thought I could use a change of pace.”
The morning bazaar crowd had begun to die down, leaving the stalls open with a good view of their wares from the aisles as we walked past back to my house. I make a comment about the cheesemonger having a good selection and we move on, across the bridge from the bazaar to the residential district.
I wait until I can just see the wooden fence erected around the lava stone gravel of my front porch, what a Ta-matoran might call a garden, before I say, “ah, there it is just up on the left. Sorry to be rude, but you said you came from Le-Koro? Or was I just imagining things?”
IC: Tukeli (interacting with Arero)
Tukeli glanced over at Arero when he answered, and nodded. "I see. Po-Koro... do you miss it? What's it like?" She wasn't particularly fond of intense heat, or dry environments. She'd been to Ta-Koro a long time ago and aside from the Wall of History, hadn't really liked it there. She'd always assumed Po-Wahi wasn't much better, so she avoided visiting the village of stone. But it was always interesting to hear someone else's point of view... the six villages were so different culturally and she liked learning about them. Besides, she had a little experience of her own where living outside of your original Wahi was concerned, and it was nice to meet someone who shared that experience.
Then he mentioned Le-Koro, which surprised her a bit. Then again, if she had slipped in a couple Treespeak words without realizing it, the fact that she had been living in Le-Wahi was probably obvious. She gave a light, barely audible laugh. "Not rude at all. No, I didn't, but you guessed right." She looked at the ground for a moment, before meeting the Matoran's gaze again. "Yes... I lived in Le-Koro for several centuries." In fact... ever since she had been forced to take shelter there, Tukeli had never left the wahi. This was the first time in ages that she had left the jungle behind, something she never would have considered only a few years ago. Knowing that was a strange feeling. "You say you needed a change of pace... I know what you mean." In more ways than one, if she was honest...
IC: Arero (Onu-Koro, interacting with Tukeli)
“Centuries? Mata-Nui bless you for not turning green as a Gukko Force officer.”
Home is rustic. It’s made of rock and mud and dirt on the outside with a wood door, and a wood floor inside polished by the feet of previous tenants. I realize I’d forgotten to lock my house this morning, pushing the door open with a shoulder to reveal the chaos of settling in to a new home. My neighbors helped tremendously over the past week, but there were still ceramics and other items I had no idea where to put.
“Po-wahi is,” I pause briefly to think, “a rock climber’s paradise. If you’re a kohlii fan you’ll never be without a friend, but the city’s really changed since Akiri Hewkii. So much has gone into making it an oasis that a lot of the older places have disappeared, or been overshadowed by larger works. I rented a small home with a carpenter for a time who wanted to study stone sculpture. I admit it’s been rather difficult getting on since I began living alone. Now I read a lot of books.” I wasn’t lying. The kitchen table had several small volumes piled atop it. A wicker chair creaked under the weight of slabs bought off a young scribe with dreams of being the next Chronicler.
“Feel free to set the basket down wherever,” I gesticulate broadly at my living room. “There’s some cactus needle tea in the silver tin by the stove if you’d like. The one with ‘EPIC’ written on the lid.” I nod toward the nook of a kitchen with its window viewing the street.
It's evening when I say goodbye and see Tukeli out of my home. She leaves, replaced by memories. I sit and write some letters to friends.
OOC: Mekana arriving from Ta-Wahi
IC: Mekana - Onu-Koro -
When Mekana arrived at the underground city she was tired. She'd been on the move for hours through the dark tunnels, she couldn't exactly use her mask to teleport around when she could barely see a few feet in front of her so she had resorted to old fashioned walking for most of the way.
So naturally the first thing Mekana looked for was an Inn. She'd get in contact with her suppler of iStones after a good night's rest.
"Golden Pickaxe Inn..." Mekana looked up at the sign of said Inn, it had been the first one she came across. "As far as names go...meh." She went inside regardless of what she felt about the name, heading to the receptionist or whoever was in charge. "I'd like a room for the night."
OOC: Open for interaction, not picky with who really, probably somebody already at the Golden Pickaxe Inn I'd think.
Mekana managed to sell a lot of iStones, it was fantastic.
She ran out of them eventually, so she decided to off and head back to Ta-koro.
OOC: Mekana back to Ta-Wahi. Yeet yeet.
OOC: moving forward in time
I stand above the city as night sets. The moon is high, bright. Cold wind combs desert sand through alleyways below in the abandoned district. The rippling is a wave. The climb down is harsh, with few hand holds. I can see the route, but the cold wind sees another. My hands grasp its devilish form short of sandstone cliff. The moon is high, bright. The ground is closer now.
I grasp the air again, this time from the comfort of my sandy floor. My eyes are open. My heartlight flickers rapidly as I reach instinctively out to stop my fall. A dream?
I read my travel journal over a cup of morning tea, the window open to the road outside. If I leaned over the sink I'd see a sign hanging next to my front door installed the day before. The conformity comforts me. My morning passes with a cool cavern breeze passing through the kitchen window.
I leave home when I can’t stand looking at moving boxes and the scene of the onu-matoran across the street cleaning his ussal loses its usual charm. Without an assistant the packing won’t get done, but more importantly I have no one to find gossip for me. With no location in mind at first, I near the Wise Man’s Archive in the heart of Onu-Koro by an unknown force. Books do have their way of calling to me.
OOC: If anyone wants to interact with Arero, he’s heading into the Wise Man’s Archive. If it’s player run (I don’t know yet, but I’ll read up on that) I’ll have him interact with the owner!
IC: And dreadfully distinct against the dark, a tall blue man pondered.
"...Should have been a left at that ravine."
He looked back at the tunnel behind him, doubtlessly leading into a dizzying system of caves that stretched throughout the Wahi. Perhaps even further throughout the undergrowth of the island in general, for that matter— Not everything was mapped. Cave systems got very extensive once you hit a certain threshold for depth.
Wasn't like mapping helped him any.
"Ah, Karz. It keeps happening."
With tired resignation, he stalked forward once again, across the barren surface of a region infamous for the subterranean. At least at this point he could confidently say there was nowhere that he hadn't popped up— and his finally got to feel soil beneath his tired feet as opposed to stone.
They said the give was good for the joints!
Beneath unchallenged starlight, the eternal wanderer's lonesome march carried him wherever it did the same as it always had. Without pause, without complaint, and without the barest hint of direction.
Feels like home.
There’s a lamppost that’s lightstone is flickering in challenge of the stars. A small bug dances inside the bulb. It can’t decide if touching the lightstone is worth the price of death. The lamppost marks one of the many tunnels down to Onu-Koro. I’m here for a breath of fresh air and a view of starlight. So is a tall blue man passing by apparently. Again.
“Hello. You lost?”
OOC: Forgot I'd transitioned to first-person with this guy a while back, whoops.
I felt the corners of my mouth tighten as my jaw took a split second to clench and unclench itself. I hated this being pointed out for me, I'd gotten grease from all directions for it— but in the...
I turned, sizing up the voice's owner neutrally. Too short to be a Toa like me, but casual enough in chatting up one that was a vagabond. Mildly ballsy, really. I doubted I looked any breed of sheveled.
...In the Po-Matoran's defense, I'd made it pretty clear with how I was muttering to myself.
"Well," I began, shifting my oversized travel pack a little on my back. "You could say that. I'd argue 'lost' implies I'm on my way somewhere, though. Right now, that's a 'not really'."
I folded my arms. He seemed a bit nosy, but I hadn't talked to anyone in a good while— some semantics probably would keep my head on straight in the long run. Wherever Fulminea ended up after Ko-Wahi... I hoped that kid was doing okay. She knew how to get under my skin as well as Shaddix himself, especially regarding my proclivity for travel, but her heart was a good one through and through.
"So no, not really. Just wandering."
He's a mess and he doesn't trust me. Why should he? I wouldn't. But he did arrive at the perfect time.
"Well then Wanderer, you wouldn't mind if I added a quest to your evening, would you? I've been wanting to drink tea under the stars, but the cap on my carafe is on too tight. Any chance you could help? I'll give you a sandwich and there's a second cup."
I gesture to the small bag on the bench next to me.
...Well, it'd be rude to turn down the guy's hospitality. Not as though I'm gonna be late for anything.
Besides, I hadn't had a good sandwich in what felt like two years.
"Sure. Name's Cipher. You?"
I set my bag down upon the soil at my feet, but kept my falcata at my hip for now— Less due to me reading him as threatening and more out of general habit. I would have been remiss to not keep something in arm's reach at all times. That said, hopefully leaving my halberd behind with the rest of the supplies and not thumbing the pommel would prove a gesture enough of good faith. I can be paranoid, but not that much.
I fumble with opening the bag. It's a simple fold-sack, but my hands have their limits. The carafe is warm and I hold it out. It's steel lid vexes me yet again. While Cipher works on the lid I procure two cups and a promised sandwich. "Where you traveling from?"
I made pretty quick work of the lid and returned it to the Matoran, accepting his offered sandwich as payment. Guess that fell under the purview of being a mercenary too, in a roundabout manner— end goal was to keep yourself fed by doing whatever job you came across. Honestly, he'd just taken out the middleman of coinage, this Arero character.
"Ko-Wahi." I replied. "A friend and I were chasing after someone he knew, but it seems we just missed them." Because they passed.
I took a bite of the sandwich, nodding in approval at the taste. "This is good."
I kept the details pretty vague, given the general notoriety of the names involved—You never knew who had enemies where and why, after all. Dorian in particular was egregious regarding that, it seemed he had an entire new crew gallivanting around with him every time we met. No reason that what applied to friends, knowing him, didn't also to those of a more antagonistic slant. It was a long list, thinking back, of the stupid faces we'd caved in whenever we bumped into eachother— I doubted there weren't many more that I'd never know. Maybe somebody Arero knew. Maybe Arero himself.
"Maybe" was certainly operative there. If anything, I'd have more reason to worry about a bad impression of me than outright malice, to be perfectly frank. The Matoran didn't carry himself like much beyond a curious stargazer, at least not at the moment. I felt pretty safe in that read. Chances are, my definition of "infamous person" would be somebody he didn't even have the slightest inkling of knowledge about.
We lived in a bit of a different world than most normal everyday people. To me, more than anyone, that should be obvious.
"My buddy took off ahead of me, towards Ga-Koro if I had to guess. I... Well, I'm one of those people where 'taking a wrong turn somewhere' is more an inevitability than a risk. Wound up here."
“I’m sorry to hear that,” I say. “I mean, about missing your acquaintance. Your buddy sounds like they’re in a hurry.” I look at him. The lamppost casts shadows on his mask. He’s busy eating the sandwich. I was looking forward to tasting the spring greens and soft mahi cheese coated in pepper. “Toa stuff. Huh?"
“Tea?” I offer a cup. “Made from a cactus needle from the desert.”
"Yeah, kind of. Big island-spanning adventures because some voice in your head told you some destiny was happening somewhere..."
Something was off. Arero was gracious as ever, but I could feel a bit of tension in the air. Almost apprehensive. Was it him or me? I didn't feel tense. Much the opposite, in fact, enjoying the generosity I'd been shown. He even offered me tea, a pleasant and slightly floral note hitting my nostrils. Desert cactus needle... Perhaps it was the thirst I'd suffered at the time coloring my recollection, but cacti had saved my hide many times whenever I dipped in and out of Po-Wahi.
Hold that thought, though. Better get this straight—
I traced a line from his eyes to where they were pointed.
Oh, the sandwich. Oh karz, he never specified having two of them. I'd gone for it without even thinking and was already halfway through.
I held up a finger as he produced a warm, slightly steaming cup and held it out for me. One second, please. I'll fix this.
I unsheathed my falcata, sharp and clean edge catching the silver moonlight. Inverting it so the inward edge faced the starry sky, I carefully placed my blade upon the bench beside him and pressed both sides of the sandwich down over the edge, slicing through the bread, cheese, and greens with mercifully little resistance. In my hands I now held the trimmings of my thoughtless feast, and the other pristine half that Arero had probably figured he was going to miss.
"Sorry about that. Here," I held out the unsullied remainder of his hard culinary work, mirroring him. "I'll trade you."
“I mean I-”
I think about saying I couldn’t accept. I think about not having my sandwich because Cipher helped me. My hand takes the sandwich anyway. The first bite is creamy. A kick of black pepper at the end. The bread is well proved.
My next few moments are spent looking at the night sky while indulging in sandwich. In a perfect world I’d swing my legs under the bench. There would be a shooting star. Is this a perfect world?
“Island-spanning adventures sounds grand. You’re up on all the news I imagine. Doing all the toa-hero things.” I wink to imply my matoran ignorance. “Catch me up to speed? All I’ve heard recently is something happened and that the ussalry was deployed, but I don’t get out much.”
Sitting down, I hastily finished the remains of my half before washing it down with a sip of his offered tea. It was a subtle flavor, but one that helped to soothe my aching mind and smooth out my voice— it'd honestly been a while since I used it in any real capacity. Couple days, a week... Time was hard to keep track of in the tunnels.
I met his wink, however, with a wry chuckle. "You'd think that."
I followed his prior gaze up to the stars as I took another drink of the cactus-infused water, mild bitterness coating my tongue. Supposedly there was one up there for me— spirit stars were a legend everyone on the island had heard of since childhood, but to be honest? I'd never been able to place mine. A whole sea of them twinkled in upon the blue-black canvas of night, but there were none I'd felt any particular connection to. Just assumed it was one of the many.
Well, maybe that was because mine never stuck around, just like the Toa it had represented. If finding me was a fool's errand, maybe the Great Spirit had seen fit to return the favor when I looked up. I wouldn't put it past him.
"Unfortunately, with my... abstract navigational skill, " Careful wording. "news has a nasty habit of getting away from me— Or more accurately, I spend more time getting away from it. Lot more days somewhere in the desert than in the Po-Koro bazaar, you know?"
That said, I'd give it a shot. If he wanted a good conversation and had paid in tea, I can at least say I honored my contract. Important as a mercenary. I began to gather my thoughts.
"Lemme think. Biggest thing by far is that Ko-Koro's been overrun by Makuta-worshippers a little while back. If you were planning on a day trip, you'd do well to stay away. I also heard that Ta-Koro got... hit recently. Nothing like Ko, they're not overrun, but they had a bad raid for certain. I remember hearing the Lavapool Inn got real jacked up over there. Meant to go see for myself, but life had different ideas. Po-Koro's rail line is up and running now..."
There was a lot I'm missing. Some of it was my fault, but there was a lot of info I just didn't have. I hadn't swung east towards the jungle in ages, for instance.
"Those are all the places I've visited recently. If I had to guess, the Ussalry's mobilizing because our home's become much more dangerous on the whole."
The image of a gaunt and dark figure, holding a blade coated in liquid crimson that stained the white fields at his feet, flashed through my mind. I had him. If I was a minute faster, I had him. He would have been dead to rights and naught but smoke.
... Well, I wasn't faster. For all the pain our rag-tag team could have avoided, there was no changing the past.
"That's all I've got, unfortunately." I grinned in apology, wan and somewhat embarrassed by being the one to admit how lost I always got. I'd have never heard the end of it if Arero was one of the usual gadflies I'd befriended in my travels. Hopefully, he wouldn't turn out that way. "I'll admit that I'm surprised you didn't know more. Not many traders coming Onu-Koro's way to feed the rumor mill?"
“I’ve had my mask stuffed in the pages of a few choice books over at the Wise Man’s Archive. I’d been getting all my news from my neighbor,” I lean toward Cipher, “and that means nothing but niche basket-weaving gossip.”
“You said Ko-Koro was attacked? Were you there? How’s the new Akiri, uh…” I try to remember who took the post after Matoro then give up. “I’m not crazy for thinking all this Makuta-stuff has been getting worse then? I thought the Maru defeated Makuta and that toa Joske was protecting the island. I read about him in a Kohli journal.”
"Wasn't. I heard a majority of the refugees headed over to Ta— as for the Akiri, I doubt they propped one up in his stead." I folded my arms, feeling my face begin to contort into a grimace. "And whether the Maru defeated Makuta or not, lopping off the head doesn't mean the body disappears. In a cult of faith like that, he could have just as well become a martyr, or the Maru's words been no better than propaganda." I elected to not tug the Joske thread at the moment. I didn't know what ramifications it'd have, especially considering his continued stardom amongst the people of Mata Nui. Amongst people just like Arero. For many, he was still a symbol of hope.
I'd have to think a little harder on that, for now. If I were younger, I'd probably just blurt the truth outright for the sake of keeping the record straight. Now?
Dunno. I can almost still feel the blood cauterizing on my fingers. Arero's words served as a reminder of how much he meant in life.
"And that's to say nothing of those that would want to continue to spread his will purely out of spite. It seems he left a good few people behind who would whip the rest into picking up the slack. Even the Island's chosen are gonna have their work cut out for them, to say nothing of guys like you or I."
Cipher’s eyes betray loss and internal conflict. I watch him stare out across the rocky hills for a long time. He’s holding something back. Something that hurts and pulls at his conscience. I understand.
I reach up and pat his shoulder. His muscles are strong. His armor is a record of violence. “Hey, it’s okay. Whatever happened, it’s okay. I’m sure you did the best you could. You’re a toa-hero, after all. You even have a star.” I point up to a dancing light in the night sky. It feels like the right one.
“I had friends in Ko-Koro. I hope they made it out. They probably would have gone to Ta- or Ga-.” My friends. That is a word used liberally. During my time in Onu-Koro no one has sent a letter. I care about them all the same though. “I should make sure they’re safe.”
I take a sip of tea. It’s calming. It staves off the Southern wind from Mount Ihu and reminds me of the desert. “You said Ta-Koro was also attacked?”
I followed his outstretched finger for a moment as he gave me a friendly pat upon the shoulder, reassuring me that I'd done everything I could.
"You're right," I breathed, slowly and with a hint of disappointment. "I did. Sometimes that just isn't enough."
Guess I'm not as taciturn and poker-faced regarding this as I thought. Well, wearing my heartlight upon my sleeve is something I never fully got away from even on my best days. Almost mirroring Arero, I took a sip of my own tea and switched gears. Suspend with the dismal thoughts of what I could or couldn't have accomplished now— this guy had his own people to worry about. No sense in focusing on mine when I'm so certain they could handle themselves.
"Well, hard lessons like that are learned slowly. Anyway— It was. From what I understand, this happened either a little before or around roughly the same time as Ko-Koro's initial besieging. Particularly nasty group of Skakdi calling themselves 'Piraka' managed to tear up the city's center. Sounds as though they earned the moniker." I spat out the term. As good as "thief" or "murderer" in Matoran, mercenaries like myself had heard it often enough by those who didn't know better— and liked to reserve our use for it for those amongst us that committed cardinal sins out of, or in direct and unreasonable defiance of, contract. But for the purposes of the usual villager? It fit perfectly.
"The city was still discovering from the Rahkshi swarm that was Makuta's last hurrah before the Maru did their thing— I think they'll be recovering a while longer. That said, any of your friends from Ko-Wahi would have wound up missing the attack by at least a week. If they got out, they should be okay for now."
My turn to be doling out reassurances. My duty as a Toa-hero, wasn't it?
"You thinking of hoofing it on your own if you check on them?"
“Crossed my mind,” I reply. “If I set out tomorrow morning I could probably catch a trade caravan using the tunnels.” It would take a couple days of travel at most. I could use the time to write letters. Or I could read another book.
“Piraka.” The slur feels wrong in the mouth. I feel my teeth grinding together. “I don’t like them already.”
The tea is gone. I cap the carafe, return it to my foldsack, and look to Cipher.
“I’m assuming you’re traveling too, right? Why not travel together? You can keep me safe and I can read a map.”
I cracked a smile. That was exactly what I'd intended to suggest.
"Couldn't have said it better myself, Arero." I replied, rising to my feet and offering a hand as the other slung my weighty travel bag onto a shoulder. "And normally, I'd tell you my work doesn't come without a price— but in this case I'd say the hospitality and direction'll more than cover it."
A mutually beneficial agreement wasn't quite so cut and dry as contracted pay, but the fact of the matter was that it was just as worth honoring— assuming he would either take me to Ta-Koro or Ga-Koro, I'd doubtlessly come along work that could pay out in cold, hard widgets. A good mercenary never worked for free, but a smart one never overlooked the barter system. We both stood to gain, just as he'd surmised.
Besides, those were the two most likely spots where I could track down a more familiar face. Everyone won here.
An exchange in writing it may not be, but a strong handshake would be agreement enough.
"Just keep an eye on me, and I'll keep an eye on you."
Safe passage with a stranger purchased via handshake. What a novel feeling of adventure. What a painful handshake.
"Alright then, first challenge: get to Onu-Koro so I can pack. Lucky for you I know just the way." I slide my foldsack onto my back and set off down the cavern pathway to the city of earth. I'll need several items for the journey. Most importantly a few tools and my maps. I take one last look at the stars before the cavern ceiling makes them disappear.
"Think we'll ever have a star up there?" I whisper to myself. Then I jog ahead to keep up with Cipher's toa gait.
OOC: Arero and Cipher to Ga-Wahi, unless you have anything else you want to post.
My hand practically encased his, and he almost managed to hide a wince.
Luckily he'd needed to pack— that meant doubling back to Onu-Koro, which in turn meant I had an opportunity to restock on supplies. Rationing for two took a bit more than rationing for one who didn't mind going hungry for hours on end, not to mention that I needed a fresh set of crossbow bolts. Arero started off promptly once he'd packed his tableware, sparing one last look skyward and words that didn't reach my ears before diving back into the tunnel towards his home.
He was absolutely the curious sort. I'd have to get used to answering questions, I was sure of it. Might even end up passing on a little knowledge, like I did for Flay. Wondered how she was getting on...
Almost nostalgically, I produced a small orb of luminous plasma in the palm of my hand, bolstering the lightstones in place and helping me ensure I kept a clear view of the Po-Matoran's form, casting our little point along the path in a soft orange as we walked.
Anyways, should such education come to pass? I already knew what I'd make the first lesson: How to survive somebody trying to squeeze your hand bones together.
OOC: Off to Ga.
IC Tarkhan - Onu-Koro:
Surrounded by various mechanical components, a lanky matoran stood, putting the finishing touches on a set of linked Patero air bladders hooked up to a mostly disassembled vaguely humanoid machine and what resembled a length of sewer pipe mounted on a set of saw horses that had been flash welded to the floor.
Tarkhan hadn't had good experimental work like this in ages. With the Advent of the Exo-Matoran suits, there would likely be a new draw for advanced weaponry, and the current technology was simply out of date. If the Akiri really intended to use these mechanical marvels to liberate Ko-Koro, he'd need more than some disc launchers and a sword on a big robot. Artillery was an option but hardly fitting for the average combatant.
There needed to be something in between the massive artillery pieces and the more conventional hand held weaponry seen across Mata-Nui, and it was up to one man to provide it.When he was finished, the Akiri would have no issues sending those barbaric Makuta worshipping idiots to their graves where they belonged. With a self assured smile, he strode across the tool covered floor and flipped a switch inside the open cockpit of the Exo-Matoran he'd procured from Nuparu. The electrical motor whined to life, and the patero air bladders began to slowly be inflated. Tarkhan frowned and dashed across the room to a table laden with more tools and an iStone and made a note that the air pumps would need to be improved in production models to ensure fire rate was adequate. As the bladders filled, he made his way over to the length of pipe, a suitable enough stand in for what would be the barrel of the weapon, he'd made a sort of makeshift firing mechanism in the form of a quick release valve. The 'projectile' was a ball fashioned from metal and weighted to what Tarkhan estimated was heavy enough to provide some punch, while maintaining a good range. Assuming his pressure calculations were correct, this should be quite a step up from a patero rifle. He'd worry about making special ammunition and shaped rounds later. This was a proof of concept more than anything, and he'd finish the finer details once he knew it worked. The end of the cannon was pointed at the far end of his workshop, which he'd cleared away just in case. He'd also set up an old mattress on the wall to help absorb some of the impact.
He checked the pressure on the bladders: about half filled. Perfect. For his first test, and inside his own shop, he didn't need a full power shot. He scrambled over and flipped the switch off, then made his way to the release valve... And hesitated. If this worked the way he hoped.... Well he might just change the face of warfare on this little island forever. He stood on the precipice of greatness.
He pulled the release valve, and the air from the bladders exploded into the chamber, and promptly burst the lining just before reaching the projectile launcher's barrel with a loud bang.
Coughing and swearing, Tarkhan moved to inspect the damage. As he'd feared, conventional air bladder linings were not going to cut it with this amount of pressure. He'd have to make larger ones with reinforcements of some kind. But it was progress. Given time, he'd make something truly great...
OoC:Tarkhan open for interaction
IC: The Chaplain - Road to Redemption
"'And the Archangel said unto him,
"Banish fear from your heart, the dark tendrils of the Pretender
"Banish doubt from your heart, seeds of betrayal of the False Builder
"By the Archangel's glory, no harm may befall you.'
As it is written in the Book of Life."
Dryken stopped then, opening his eyes. The craggy ceiling of the cave, barely illuminated by lightstones, stared back at him.
The Chaplain slowly rose to his feet and surveyed the entourage. A wounded Toa, a Lesterin, two Matoran and an injured Skakdi.
These were the only survivors Dryken had found after Blackrock was destroyed.
The loss still haunted him after all these weeks. Not once, but twice in his lifetime, he'd seen the Brotherhood forced from their ancestral home. It was worse this time, as he'd already experienced the pain and loss once, and the subsequent loss of direction. Not to mention that this time, the Fortress was well and truly levelled.
"We must continue, brethren." Quietly, the group slowly rose from their makeshift camp, packing up swiftly (as they had few possessions) and continuing their march through Onu-Wahi's tunnels.
The servants of the Serpent and Usurper had been quick to capitalise, Dryken fumed. Barely an hour after the explosion, a raiding party of bandits, clearly linked to the Legacy in their mannerisms and arms, had arrived the the Fortress. Thoughts of continuing the alliance had been dashed as Dryken watched from under the rubble as the Legacy troops murdered any surviving Acolytes on the outside of the ruins, before looting several vital artifacts and leaving.
"This way," Dryken said, leading the group through a branch in the tunnels.
It was after that that the Sentinels arrived in force. In the time between the two groups' arrival, several of the able-bodied survivors had pulled their brethren from the ruins, but they were struck down by the Sentinels as they rode in, skewering fleeing unarmed Acolytes and gunning down the Knights where they stood.
"Hold," the Lesterin said, after several minutes. She had heard something, and Dryken, though old, heard it too. It sounded like Rahi.
Dryken had been slow to pull himself out, and when he did, all that was left was but less than a dozen survivors. It was clear that they were all Knights and servants. He was ranking commander.
Dryken was tempted to stay and rebuild, but it was clear that Blackrock was no place to remain. With a heavy heart, he explained his plan to the group. They had deferred to his expertise.
"Down!" Dryken ducked as the Toa slashed past him, burying his blade into the Fikou behind Dryekn, a second before the Kofo-Jaga behind the Toa struck him through the chest.
They had lost so many in the journey, and this was only the latest.
A primal scream erupted from the old Matoran as he hacked away at the Kofo-Jaga, stabbing it from behind repeatedly with his staff, in between spurts of its blood that washed over him.
The Skakdi dispatched the Fikou she was fighting and turned, taking the distraction Dryken had made and firing her harpoon into the Kofo-Jaga's face. The beast screeched as it died, echoing throughout the tunnels.
The journey was long, but after so many months, finally, they had reached their destination.
A short service followed, followed by a burial that consisted of collapsing the tunnel on the corpses.
Dryken wiped away the blood from his face as they continued. Lost in thought, he almost missed their destination, hours later.
He looked up, and saw it. The secret entrance. It was unmistakable. Months had passed for this. A shudder ran through his frame as he remembered it. It was hidden in plain sight, nothing to the passers-by hurrying to their destination, but blindingly obvious to the devoted. Barely lit by purple lightstones, a single rune on the side of this tunnel marked the secret entrance to their new, old home.
On 4/9/2015 at 5:00 AM, Eyru said:
The lightstones are like stars and they glow bright;
it looks like it's the middle of the night
Onu-Koro is way cool, like, dude;
the police force is really nice they're not rude.
Lira smiled as she scribbled furiously in her book. This poem was going so well!!!1!1!
Someone knocked on Lira's door.