BZPRPG: Kini-Nui

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  • Posted 2013-04-08 00:27:44 UTC
    BZPRPG: Kini-Nui
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  • IC:

    The undergrowth snapped and crinkled underfoot, rustling and shuffling to make way for the dark form that stumbled heedlessly though it. This form that broke branches and shoved aside leaves with its shins was tiredly bent from exertion, its fatigue increased by the heavy burden carried across its shaking arms. The dark carrier, his masculine elegance veiled by a posture of exhaustion, was hauling a second body, a limp, subtle, broken female frame. She was like an anchor; her arms and legs hung, pendulums, as her bearer forged ahead with slow aimlessness.


    Heuani did not know where he was going, where he was carrying her, but that wasn't important. All he knew was the desire to move, the surety of physical action, the comfort of self-flagellation; he wanted to work himself into a stupor. This, he told himself, was no different than his deliberately demanding forays up the bright mountain; part of him, he could admit, took refuge in deadening his body. His soul felt most awake, then. He was only deadening his body; the shrubs and trees around him grew more daunting with each new step.


    Her head was propped against his shoulder. It vibrated a little, synchronized with his straining muscles. This wasn't just a trip up the mountain. He was powerless in more ways than the physical.


    By now, Heuani had numbed himself to her ravaged face. He was able to impose his own images onto the bloody canvas of her visage, see her in past splendor rather than in a shattered state. He saw her flawless face, tender lips slightly parted, magnetic eyes closed. She was asleep, and she nuzzled close to his breast as he carried her under the dappled canopy. Looking up at the green ceiling, Heuani embraced the smile that rose on his mouth; it echoed the slight upward bend of her brows, contented even in dreams. In his arms, renewed of their strength, her slender blue figure was immaculately soft. He had to stop himself from laughing with joy - he didn't want to wake her - but it was difficult; he was happy.


    The delusion of his mind did not stop Heuani's body from collapsing with exhaustion. Under a particularly knotted tree, he fell, and she rolled out of his hands to slump over a root. Heuani tried to push himself up to sitting, but his arms would have none of it; he was a prisoner of his weakness, powerless to save her from her graceless sprawled position. Both Toa of Shadow lay unceremoniously like that until Heuani gathered back enough of his strength to crawl over to the tree and lean against it. He rolled her into his arms; she leaned into him as thoughtless weight, and his grip was limp about her body. His fingers heedlessly inched over her hands; they had become cold. Heuani's mind glorified the contact.


    Once more, she was his. Somehow, she was his…


    Heuani closed his eyes; he desperately saw the images of her past retreat into mist. He was returned to the present, and the cold clamps set down on his ribs. Her gorgeous shell was crumpled, her spirit impaled by one of the sharp edges. He felt a lump in his throat; her hand was limp in his, limp like before, but now too real. It was all real too quickly, and the emptiness in Heuani was a tender void of which he was too aware. The hope that had been brought to the surface when he'd seen her, that one day she might fill this cavern, was wrenched away forcibly from his crying soul.


    The bright sun that penetrated the branches burned the Toa of Shadow where it landed on him. His memories of joyful sunlight were few; the sun had not been his friend a long time. Now it was his enemy, for its happy light reminded him of his own demise. Joske’s victory over him stung more than any flesh wound. Before the impertinent Toa had routed him, everything had been perfect. Heuani had been perfect. Perhaps if Joske and the others had not shattered his confidence before he saw her for the first time, he would have been able to allure her again.


    After all, he’d been irresistible.



    Heuani had been looking at his reflection in the still, oily pool for minutes; he still couldn’t tear his eyes away from the new face that looked up at him. The visage he saw was inexpressibly elegant, perfectly symmetrical; for the umpteenth time, Heuani traced his foreign chin, his cheeks, and his forehead. They flowed into one another with the fluid grace of quicksilver. From beneath an intelligent brow, his pair of indescribable golden irises darted over the features of the image below. Heuani gently kissed his face with two slim fingertips just below the enigmatic eyes that he had to learn were his.

    The lines of his body further down were of equal grace. Heuani’s matte jet armor was sharp at the same time as it was sleek and rounded, dangerous at the same time as it was alluring. Heuani knew he had been well built before the transformation he’d undergone, but it was impossible for him not to notice the slight, telling, alterations that made the new him a more defined, sensual silhouette. He was in awe of his own utter perfection. Every part of his body fit with the others as though woven together that way by the hand of a benevolent god. The god had, of course, been far from benevolent; but looking at what he had become, Heuani hardly cared.

    Though he noticed his voice hadn’t changed much, Heuani felt a wholly new rhythm come into it, something much more persuasive and smooth, honey sliding down velvet. It fit his newly impeccable form much better than the way he used to speak. He smiled at his image and perceived his heightened charm. Heuani was satisfied with the changes he saw. If he wished it he could be, he realized, utterly irresistible.

    That had been a part of the bargain, after all; he had demanded irresistibility, and he had gotten it. It had been a hard deal to drive, but Heuani still felt as though he’d come out better for it. Though he had been subjected to numerous and grueling procedures, many of which he still could only guess at the nature of, and he’d pledged his loyalty to a master for the first time in his life, he had emerged at the end of it all as a superior version of himself. Heuani confessed that he was satisfied with the results… besides, whatever he had gone through to get here, he knew that he was certainly in a better place than the others.

    Thinking about them gave the dark Toa pause, but not too much. Heuani hadn’t lost all of his memories. He simply found that, after one of his procedures, the room with the biting leeches, he cared less about the shards of remembrance he had left. He seemed to have recalled more before the chamber with the strange rocks; all he remembered now was the vanity of his former quest and the foolishness he’d had for undertaking it. He could look back on what he’d once been with the scorn his former self deserved.

    Heuani checked himself; he did remember more, thinking about it. He had many memories, but looking for them was like peering through a cracked window at a field of fog. The only thing that was still really tangible from his past were the terms of the deal he had made and the person he had made them for. Even now the song of her laughter and the smile of her eyes were at his mind’s beck and call. The darkness, though, had been omniscient, and it had picked up on Heuani’s fantasies as easily as if they were blades of grass plucked from a meadow. It had discovered the secret sunshine of his mind and used the light’s distance as a bargaining chip.

    When he had agreed to negotiate with the darkness, Heuani could recall, he had told himself that making a bargain would protect her and the others from a much worse fate. But, reflecting on his breaking point, the Toa of Shadow knew that he’d only been finding excuses at the time to justify selfish actions; he made none of the lofty sacrifices he assured himself he was making. He’d acted in self-interest alone – and Heuani, thinking about all that, honestly didn’t care. He felt refreshed to have done what he wanted, for once.

    Doing what he wanted had gotten him his beautiful self, after all. It had brought him vast power he had not yet tested but could nevertheless feel coursing through his new body. And, most importantly, he knew that she would be his at last. She would be his because he was irresistible.

    The doors opened, and she entered.



    Heuani heard the sounds of somebody coming through the undergrowth – or several somebodies, the rustling was too loud for a single person, and he could pick out the distant murmur of conversation – and he was very much aware of his back against the tree, of her weight pinning him there. Whoever was approaching, he had to dispatch them – Heuani needed to be alone, needed to have her, have this day and time, to himself – but he was keenly aware of his own weaknesses. He did not have the energy to stand, let alone fight, so he would have to act quickly, rely on his words and his shades to rectify the situation. But he was starting to doubt even those weapons’ effectiveness.


    It was a small party of five Matoran, walking away from the Kini-Nui temple after the battle that had been there. Heuani didn’t know why these Matoran were journeying through the jungle, nor did he care. They had to go. He sucked on the darkness between the roots to ready himself.


    When the Matoran strode into Heuani’s clear vision, he slaughtered them. Three were immediately beheaded by a razor-thin shade; a second dark blade dropped the fourth; the fifth and last Matoran had time to shout before her jugular was severed and she fell with her companions. Stillness returned to the jungle.


    Heuani, lightheaded after the effort, gasped as he let his shades dissolve. He cursed his luck; the scream from the last Matoran must have drawn somebody else’s attention, because he heard more feet surging through the vegetation towards him. He did not have the elemental power left to fend off another prying eye; he could only wait and listen. He distinguished two pairs of feet coming from behind him; the trunk against which Heuani leaned prevented him from seeing these newcomers until they had already passed him. He recognized them. He was flabbergasted.


    One was his foe, Joske, infuriatingly familiar.


    The other was the female he’d devoured the night before. Cael. Alive.


    Cael, the sacrifice… she had offered herself to Heuani in exchange for Joske’s safety. Heuani had taken her… She should have been dead. He remembered… He could still see the sweet twinkle leave her dilated pupils as he’d garroted her. There’d been no doubt that she had died then. But she was alive.


    Maybe Cael was a vision; he could be imagining her, he was very dizzy. Heuani scrutinized the Toa of Water as she and Joske galloped past his tree towards the dead Matoran. They didn’t notice Heuani and Reka, low to the earth, darkly colored, motionless; the bright pile of slain Matoran drew their gaze instead. As far as Heuani could tell, Cael looked real, and if she was a vision, he wasn’t the only one who saw her. Joske spoke to Cael as they bent over the bodies.


    “It looks like we were too late,” he said. Heuani’s hands crinkled silently into powerless fists at the sound of Joske’s voice.


    “They’re very recently deceased,” Cael replied. “They’re still bleeding… so the killer must not be too far away.” She was about to turn around before Joske caught her attention again with his voice.


    “Look at this,” Joske said, gingerly holding up the Matoran with the slit throat. “This cut is incredibly thin. Too thin to have been made by any blade I can think of.”


    “What do you think it was, then?” Cael asked.


    “I think I have an idea,” Joske replied grimly, whipping around and noticing Heuani leaning against the tree. “Just as I suspected: Heuani.”


    “Don’t pretend you were surprised,” Heuani spat viciously back; his smooth voice lost much of its former honey. “I have a very distinctive style. Leave, Joske, before I do to you what I did to them.”


    Joske shook his head. “We won’t be intimidated by you,” he said, eyeing Reka’s broken body for the first time; Joske was clearly disgusted and shocked. “We won’t be bullied by the kind of shadow scum who does what you’ve done to her. You’ve defiled your last victim, Heuani-”


    Heuani laughed derisively, hollowly, to cut him off. “You think I killed her?” he sneered. “No, it wasn’t me. It was your friends, the mighty Toa Maru, who robbed her of her life… But will you hunt them as murderers? I doubt it; there is great loyalty among ‘heroes.’ And what do you mean, ‘we won’t be bullied?’” Heuani looked cursorily again at Cael, then back to Joske. “I only see you here, Joske, and I do not think I’m bullying myself.”


    “I was referring to Cael and I,” Joske replied.


    “…Cael is dead,” Heuani said slowly. She had to be a hallucination. He shut his eyes tightly. But when he opened them again, Cael was still there. He refused to imagine her anymore; he tried to make her vanish from his sight. “I killed her. Do you need to hear how?”


    “I remember it,” Cael frowned. She would not go away. Could she be-


    “She is alive,” Joske smiled satisfactorily. “By the power of the Great Spirit, she lives again.”


    “That’s impossible,” Heuani mumbled, though his excitedly throbbing chest disagreed. Reka still slouched in his grip. “Perhaps I see her, and you see her, but she isn’t there. The dead… cannot rise.”


    “I did,” Cael told him. “I am as real as I ever was.”


    “So prove it,” Heuani said. He couldn’t hide the note of desperation that entered his voice.


    He extended a few fingers, gesturing for Cael to touch them. Instead, the Toa of Water kicked a small pebble at Heuani; it hit him in the forehead, and he felt it. She was alive.


    “…How- How did you-“ Heuani sputtered.


    “The mask,” Joske answered, gleeful at Heuani’s stupefaction. “It gave me the power to fulfill my destiny, to undo your evil deed. I sacrificed the mask, and all else, to bring Cael back… Because I love her.”


    “I’m sure you think so,” Heuani retorted without gusto. The information deflated him. Hope had always been a fickle friend to him; once more, it abandoned the Toa of Shadow. One was dead, one alive. It was like a balance, he realized, for after one was gone, the other returned to haunt him. Why had the balance shifted? Was it destined, or caused? Heuani felt himself the fulcrum of something he couldn’t grasp. The Toa of Shadow’s beautiful face was pensive, but his eyes were sunken.


    “You don’t know love, pretty boy,” he told Joske impassively. “I don’t think you could… You’re unspoiled. Love is anything but. It’s fleeting. It’s instants. And it’s never true.”


    Joske started to respond; Heuani turned contemplatively inward instead of enduring the predictable monologue. He had avoided looking at Reka since Joske and Cael had appeared – he’d been able to distract himself with conversation – but returning to his own thoughts, the dark Toa was unable to stop himself from dropping his gaze to her. Heuani tried to see the peace in her mangled body, anything; he only saw twisted joints and dark wounds. She was not peaceful; she was dead, and violently so. Heuani felt no pulse in her wrist.


    No pulse.



    The Vortixx was unlike any he had taken in a long time. She impressed Heuani, for all his spoiled taste. She was, of course, a perfect feast to the eyes and a supple delicacy to the touch, but beyond that, Heuani found her to be highly original. It was as though a different kind of fire burned in her than in other beings; so deliciously ferocious was she in her adoration of him. Heuani, in fact, had not even had to say a word to seduce her; as soon as he entered back into his dark chamber, she pounced on him and attacked him with her lips. He'd eagerly returned the gesture.

    Heuani found himself, for the first time in too long, excited. Harvesting others' love had become habitual to the Toa of Shadow after so many escapades; sheer joy of it only struck him occasionally now, with specimens as singular as the one he now possessed. Heuani had lusted for such a being, such a fiery release of his tensions, more than he'd realized. The Vortixx was perfect, as perfect as he was, and she wanted him; Heuani was in rare and private ecstasy as he let her do what she wished. Her kisses were immaculate, her hands deft and soft.

    Heuani sighed as she pulled away for a moment. Her eyes were immense in the darkness of his room. Heuani looked straight into them. Her eyes were pools of crystal water under the moon - unobstructed portals straight into her soul. His own eyes remained cloudy, impenetrable, guarded as always, as he poured into her gaze and watched a deeper essence in them. She sat over him, her long legs straddling his abdomen.

    With a strong arm, Heuani pulled the Vortixx closer to himself, so that her form pressed into his, and their noses were less than an inch apart. His eyes not leaving hers, Heuani snaked his hand slowly up her lithe body to rest over her heart. He felt it beating at triple time in excitement, almost a steady thrum against his palm. His dark, handsome face showed no expression.

    The Vortixx mirrored his action like a student watching a teacher, and caressed her own way up to his heart. She let her hand lie over his chest, searching for the same heartbeat.

    She felt nothing.





    Could she be?


    The lump jumped again to Heuani’s throat in excitement. But the Toa of Shadow quickly dismissed it. Hope, he reminded himself, was treacherous, and he had fallen for its snares too often of late. He would not let vain faith overtake him again… Against his wishes, it did. Its tug was too tantalizing.


    She could be.


    How could he tell? Pulse wouldn’t work. Neither would heat; he never melted snow, nor would she. Breath? Breath. Heuani let his head drop so that he could listen. But Joske still spoke, a dull mumble of sounds; it was too loud for Heuani to tell if she was breathing or not.


    “Shut up!” Heuani screamed suddenly, making both Cael and Joske jump a bit. He had to listen carefully. He needed to hear. Joske, taken aback, quieted. Heuani listened with renewed vigor.


    It was faint, but it was there. Reka lived.



    “We can’t be sure,” he said. “We’ve never been able to be sure. It hasn’t bothered you before. Why now?”

    “Because we’re closer,” she replied insistently. “It feels like this has been happening too quickly, like we’re not ready.”

    “Sounds like you have cold feet to me,” he said ironically.

    “Don’t be tongue in cheek,” she rejoined. “I’m trying to be serious.”

    “I know,” he said. “But we’ve all become too serious; even Lewa hasn’t cracked more than four bad puns today. I’m not used to it.”

    “I never would have thought you to be the sort to try injecting bad humor into a conversation,” she teased.

    “You’d be right, because I’m not all that good at it,” he agreed, before returning to her concerns. “We are ready, as ready as we can be. The Great Spirit gave us tests that we overcame, and we grew from them.”

    “Maybe,” she pressed. “But not enough. We may have destiny on our side, and certainly we are all driven by our duty, but the team still is not unified. That’s dangerous.”

    “You’re saying that like it’s my fault,” he replied defensively.

    “It is,” she chided. “It’s all of ours. But you, especially, need to reach out more.”

    “I would, if he wasn’t so insufferable all the time,” he grumbled.

    “Part of being on a team is learning how to work with people, even if they think an entirely different way than you do,” she interjected sharply, her voice taking on a more urgent air. “None of this will work if there’s bad air between you two. Maybe you’ve forgotten, but we all have to make sacrifices… Yours is only as large as surrendering some of your idiotic pride.”

    He was quiet for a moment. She clearly was holding something back, as it was unusual to hear her so heated. Finally he broke the silence. “I’m sorry for what you’ve had to do, and what we’ve all been through.”

    “I’m not,” she answered. “It’s my duty. I’m just worried about this, and worried about what will happen to you.”

    “Why should you be worried about me?”

    “Because you always end up doing something stupid,” she sighed, her footsteps plodding through the small puddles in the bright cave. The rush of the sparkling waterfall was prominent.

    “I thought you liked that,” he finally countered, perhaps louder than he had intended.

    “…I suppose it can be somewhat endearing,” she said in one exhale, the heat rising in her face evident in her heightened voice.

    “I’m glad,” he said, also sounding flustered, almost angry.

    “Well, if that’s how you feel-”

    “No,” he corrected himself quickly. “I’m sorry, I-”

    “Stressed,” she agreed. “I know.”

    “It’s all been building to this.”

    “That it has.”

    “I’m almost glad it’s finally going to end,” he said, recovering some of his normal confidence again.

    “It could all end.”

    “You know that’s not what I meant.”

    “But you should consider it.”

    “I do.”

    “Then talk to him. Tell him you’re sorry, and you want to work together better.”

    “If he listens, for once.”

    “It’s always worth the try,” she said. “Especially now, on the eve of our destiny… If you never extend yourself, you’ll never get anywhere.”

    “I’ll try to talk with him, I promise,” he assured her. There was another pause. Extended eye contact without words must have made them both blush again; they laughed hollowly a little to diffuse the awkwardness.

    “Well,” she said ironically, clapping her hands and starting to walk again. “Big day tomorrow-“

    “Gali.” Her footsteps were hesitant, stopped. “I… you… Well, it’s a little funny, but if… I- that’s to say, we-” He choked a little on his words, tripped.

    “What is it?” She sounded patient; it was clear that he was trying to say something difficult.

    “I’m sorry.”

    “You keep apologizing. I wish you’d apologize to him for once, instead of to me.”

    “It’s not about him, he isn’t the…” He was starting to get cross again. He recollected himself before continuing. “It’s something else.”

    “I’m listening.”

    “I know.”

    He cleared his throat, but language once again stopped him from expression.

    “I want to tell you… It’s- why can’t I? - There’s just something. And you should- well, I should- I want you to know. I want you know.” He managed to end definitively. The air could have been plucked.

    “I hope I already do,” she replied.

    “I hope so, too,” he smiled. There were a few more light splashes as Gali stepped closer to him and his hands were graced by her soft contact. Their connection was tentative, fragile. Beautiful.

    Perched on the carved Kaukau, looking through the waterfalls of Naho bay, Heuani could remember that he had seen them kiss.



    Alive, she was even more gorgeous to him.


    Heuani had to save her; she was drawing towards death, she had been for minutes – how she’d clung on at all was a miracle – and time was surely running out. A great urgency seized Heuani. What could he do? She needed a mask, or she would have no chance; the Maru had broken hers. It would be too late very soon. She needed his mask. But Heuani could not remove it; he did not have the strength to lift his own arms and pull it from his face.


    The Toa of Shadow realized that he needed help.


    The shock made his belly ignite with rage, and his initial response was vitriolic. Asking for aid was a shameful, dire idea. How could he subject himself to inferiority, neediness? He was independent; he’d always been autonomous, and he reveled in control. Now, though, he was helpless as a babe. His arms would not obey him.


    There was no chance he’d be able to intimidate one of them; that tactic had already failed him before. Nor could he persuade them through wit, they didn’t trust him, there wasn’t enough time. Solicitation, the rankest path to his pride, was the only route. It pained Heuani to know that he had to grovel in front of the Toa who had destroyed him mere hours ago. A stone had dropped from a high altitude and landed in his gut. He could not; he would not have, but for her sake.


    “…Cael,” Heuani finally swallowed, his flitting eyes averted from her. “She is alive. She needs my mask. I can’t… I can’t reach it.”


    “Don’t do it, Cael,” Joske warned. “It has to be a ploy.”


    “I’m not lying,” Heuani snarled.


    “All you do is lie,” Joske growled back. “You lied to Cael when you took her the first time. Why should she trust you now?”


    “She shouldn’t. But she must.”




    “Someone is dying.”


    “You’ve killed dozens; why should you care now?”


    “You’ve never killed; why start now?”


    “You didn’t answer my question.”


    “Nor you mine. She needs my mask.”


    “If she even still lives.”


    “I heard her breathe. She’s alive; she needs my mask.”


    “So why don’t you ask me to take your mask off?” Cael cut in, breaking the mounting fury in the air.


    “I did,” Heuani said.


    “No, you didn’t,” Cael replied. “You told me what was happening, but you didn’t ask anything.”


    “Fine,” Heuani said, looking at the ground with his golden eyes. “Take my mask off and give it to her.”


    “That was an order. You didn’t ask.”


    “I don’t see the difference.”


    “I can tell.”


    “She’s dying. So do it.”


    “Not until you ask me to.”


    Heuani glared at Cael. All the darkness of the world was a fixed point in the center of his gaze, and Cael felt the back of her neck tingle. Heuani’s eyes, already opened, unlocked, and Cael was drawn into their enigmatic darkness as irrevocably as a rodent into the hypnotic eyes of a cobra.


    She felt as though she was falling down a long chute into the dark heavens of Heuani’s soul. The clouds of this realm were ashen grey, and little stars peeked through here and there like lanterns on an ocean. Everything whistled about as though there were strong winds. She saw a point somewhere in the middle where the winds did not penetrate, a shielded place. She drew closer, almost saw what marvels waited there-


    But suddenly Cael was drawn back to the surface of Heuani’s eyes as she noticed them growing wet. The Toa of Shadow’s intense gaze was watered down; he was on the verge of tears, and grimaced to catch them before they fell.


    “Please,” he choked.


    Cael obeyed his wishes, and took Heuani’s Felnas off of him before placing it onto Reka. The Toa of Water stepped back; she was surprised that Heuani’s request had been as innocent as he’d asked. Heuani, meanwhile, looked down at Reka. As soon as the mask was slipped on her face, her breathing grew louder, more regular; it was as if she was merely in a deep sleep. The stone of pride in his stomach lifted, replaced by the joy of seeing her renewed.


    Heuani, meanwhile, felt his energy drain all the quicker. If he hadn’t already been leaning against the tree, Heuani would have surely slumped into it. Not that that mattered; the Toa of Shadow’s body was not important to him. He remarked how quickly he lost even the physical strength to tilt his head, but it wasn’t a frightening recognition. He could feel no fear as he looked down at her dark new vessel, watched her stir, and felt her fingers twitch in his. She would wake soon, and then he would be able to tell her everything. There was so much he’d always meant to say, and he delighted in how quickly the remarks flooded back to his memory.


    The gates were opened, and more memories gushed through Heuani. He could remember further back than ever before; there was even the memory of the earliest brightness, the circle that had opened for him and let the joyous sun into his small universe. He’d been blinded by it then, and his eyes had squinted, but not like they would now. He had wondered at the sun, not hated it; he had taken stock of its dominion as he’d stepped out of the cylindrical pod and into the world for the first time. Behind him had been the lapping sea, and he’d known that life was good. Even then he had known what he wanted.


    He remembered the others; they had been bright, born to be heroes, baptized by the same light that had blessed Heuani’s head so long ago. Those had been the days of faith, and the peoples of the island had greeted Heuani and the rest of the First Toa as gods. They’d had a mission, how simple it had been, how right it had seemed. Heuani knew better now; life was not good, not unless you did what you wanted. He’d learned that too many times to forget it. It was why he’d broken.


    Among the confused jumble that returned to him, though, she was most prominent in his mind. She’d been returning to him across an extended time, piecemeal; even amongst the countless others that he took, Heuani had never found another as satisfying as her. It’d taken him so long to realize why, to understand what she meant again. Now that he understood his deeper draw to her, the deeds of his past were tainted with the guilt of long-sought, but abandoned, comprehension.


    Nothing mattered. Her eyes were opening.



    She had approached him with eyes that said too much, unusually expressive eyes that had been opened uncharacteristically wide by her overwhelming and conflicting emotion. Heuani had had nothing to say; he simply needed her.She needed him, too, and she hated it. Heuani could read the betrayal in her face, and it still haunted him.But her submission, her hunger, was still the sweetest he had known. It was because of her eyes... They had changed. Heuani had to believe that they had changed for him.



    Reka’s eyes, looking up at Heuani, were indeed changed.


    They were the same indescribable gold as his eyes, and the same hue as they’d been before the battle with the Maru. Their physical structure was unchanged; they were fashioned like they always had been. They squinted, resentful of the glare of the sun; gradually, they eased open, her utterly expressive, breathtaking eyes. That was no different. It was what lay behind the eyes that Heuani noticed, because what he saw came as something of a shock.


    Her humor, sagacity, charm, and gentility were gone; the wry, wise spirit that had once been so known to him was unrecognizable. If he had not known who she had once been, Heuani would never have guessed that the shark eyes he stared into belonged to her. They seemed to be even an opposite of their former selves: impulsive, hungry, sadistic, savage. They were predatory rather than sisterly in the way they appraised him. When he’d seen her before, had he really been so enthralled by her lustful shape that he’d been unable to perceive the change behind the doors of her core?


    The person he was seeing was not Gali. It was Reka. And he was Heuani. He no longer wanted to be.


    The two Toa of Shadow locked eyes and conversed through the connection. Heuani could not stop himself from tears anymore; salty gems dripped onto his chest as she repositioned herself, crouched beside him, still maintaining eye contact. Joske and Cael watched stilly, unwilling and unable to break the silent exchange of the dark figures they watched. With every moment that passed, Reka grew stronger and Heuani weaker; the donation of the Felnas had switched their roles. Reka’s wounds, fed by darkness, started to mend, and her beautiful body was slowly restored.


    Heuani suffered her presence as keenly and excitingly as a knife poised to break his skin. He wanted not to watch her – he knew what she was, it was what he had been – but he couldn’t help himself. She crawled closer to him, calculatingly, dangerously, but Heuani welcomed it. He could smell her, yearned to touch her, even though her gaze was fixed with unholy wrath into his culpable essence. She was irresistible; he needed her to take him.


    Her kiss, light, cruelly so, was divine.


    And Heuani felt in that instant that everything was going wrong; through the gentle contact, Reka had used his Felnas on him.


    From within the vulnerable Toa of Shadow, new reserves of dark energy sprouted clawed hands. The shades, Heuani knew, would devour him from the inside out. It was a familiar sensation similar to shadow jumping – dissolution – but extended painfully, infinite needles splintering him into dust. Heuani was being torn apart by his own element.


    He didn’t blame Reka; he had taken her, consumed her in ravenous innocence, and now it was her turn to take him in the same way. The truth was that some part of Reka’s twisted mind must have recognized that Heuani deserved recompense, which meant that she remembered. Gali was still inside the dark body, and it made him smile. For once, Heuani was glad not to be in control; he yielded gleefully to her punishment, took his whipping with relish. The shadow particles that tore him were virtuous darkness.


    It was Joske’s fault, Heuani decided. Joske had bested him, cheated in their duel, and toppled Heuani at the height of his strength. Joske had thrown Heuani into the pit of reticence from which he hadn’t been able to escape in time. Joske was his killer… so many killers masquerading as heroes. Heuani, at least, had never pretended to be anything other than what he was. He was greedy and proud, and it was no secret.


    He was truthful.


    Wasn’t he?


    Before Joske and Cael’s eyes, Heuani dissolved into a black mist, melted docilely into the mottled gloom of the jungle. They tensed, expected the underhanded Toa of Shadow to emerge again behind them with his eerie sword raised. He did not.


    Reka had watched Heuani fade, and she stood up impassively, looking carelessly down at the spot where he’d reclined, fully formed, seconds before. Slaying him seemed not to have perturbed her; instead, she was interested by Heuani’s sword, which had not melted with him. The ripple-bladed clear weapon was still there, resting on a patch of moss, and under the green glow of the canopy it seemed even more alien. She started to reach for the weapon; Joske’s voice halted her progress.


    “What did you do?” he asked as authoritatively as he could muster.


    “Revenge,” Reka smiled coyly. She turned to walk away – Joske couldn’t help following her with his eyes, to Cael’s annoyance – and, sensing Joske’s glance on her, Reka peered over her shoulder and raised her eyebrows at him. “It tastes sweet. Try some.”


    “He doesn’t want any,” Cael assured her. “Sleaze.”


    “Oh my, insulting me already?” Reka cooed lightly, her eyes overtly tracing Joske’s lines. “We don’t even know each other yet, darling… But I get the feeling we could get to know each other very well, if we felt so inclined-”


    “Leave,” Joske ordered, looking deliberately away from Reka.


    “You’re adorable when you blush; suit yourself,” Reka purred, still looking at Joske. “I’ll be in touch sooner or later.” She gave him a last wink and then sauntered off; the sunlight exemplified her tantalizing body as she strutted lithely away. Despite himself, Joske watched; Cael hit him on the arm, regaining his focus. Reka, meanwhile, disappeared into blackness and was gone.


    “Look what was left,” Cael said, gesturing to the flamberge on the ground. “I wonder why it didn’t leave with him.”


    Joske looked at the weapon pensively. “Maybe… Maybe it’s not his, anymore.” He took a few steps over to the sword and bent beside it. It really was an odd thing, certainly unlike any other weapon on the island; but it was also beautiful, lying on the moss and bending some of the light from above into dazzling patterns. On a whim, Joske picked it up; to his surprise, it was weighted perfectly to his arm. Flamberge in hand, he stood again and swung the sword in a few practice strokes. It was effortless. It was perfect.


    It was the sword of a servant of the mighty Mata Nui.



    Heuani stood and watched as the spiny creatures pulled open the tall doors for him; he walked into the room on shadowy feet that he was still not accustomed to. The gates were closed behind him with the hiss of stone grating on stone, and Heuani found he was confronted with the same darkness he had once pledged to destroy. To his newly sensitive eyes, it was a discrete shade of night, a separate entity from the ambivalent blackness elsewhere in the dark room. Something about its presence set his hackles tingling. Heuani bowed before the full emptiness before him.

    “Rise, Heuani,” the darkness said in its bass rattle, and Heuani obeyed the syllables of his new name. The darkness roiled, serpentine, to itself. “I trust that she was to your enjoyment?”

    Heuani nodded. “Yes… master,” he said, tasting the foreign phrase of respect in his mouth. Heuani could not help smiling a little as he thought about her submissive beauty, the ecstasy of her hunger; nevertheless he found his grin tinged with something poignant that he could not place. “She was… was all I could have hoped for.”

    “Good,” the darkness replied with a degree of keenness. “I am glad to see you satisfied with our arrangement. I will make sure you have another one like her soon.” Heuani furrowed his brow slightly, as though to be sure he’d heard correctly – another? The darkness must have noticed, for it chuckled, the sound of boulders falling down bottomless rocky ravines. “Yes, Heuani. I mean for you never to be unfulfilled.”

    As the darkness continued to speak, red lightstones glowed slightly to life on the walls of the chamber, revealing several weapons lined up on the floor but still failing to penetrate the sentient blackness at the other end of the room. Heuani recognized all the tools: a pair of claws, a large axe, sturdy kickers, twin hooks, a shield, and two swords. Heuani instinctively reached for one of the swords. “Patience Heuani,” the darkness ordered. “I have summoned you here to present you with a new weapon, a better weapon. Behold.”

    Out of a shadowy wisp a sword unlike any Heuani had ever seen materialized before him. It had a sturdy, elegant metal hilt – a basic T-shaped crossbar, an unadorned ovular pommel, all crafted out of smooth lines – but what was remarkable about the weapon was its transparent, rippling blade. Heuani plucked the sword from the air and felt its balance suit him excellently, as though it had been made for his arm.

    The blade looked like it was made of glass, and its edge was so sharp it almost disappeared into the shade around it. He pulled the flat of the flamberge close to his face and noted that its seemingly smooth surface was actually comprised of exceedingly minute flat polygons that bent so subtly that their edges were imperceptible unless closely examined. Inside the blade, Heuani’s acute vision made out a tiny crevice, an angular-looking air bubble; it was, as far as he could see, the sword’s only flaw.

    “Beautiful, is it not?” the darkness rumbled. “That is the sword of a servant of the mighty Makuta. It never loses its edge, and it will never betray you in battle. You may depart.” Heuani nodded, bowed again and, kneeling, picked something else up from the floor. The darkness boiled, startling Heuani a little. “You cannot use that,” it stated.

    “Why not?” Heuani asked, before quickly tacking on a “master” at the end of his inquiry to lend it a more respectful tone.

    “You are no longer who you once were,” the darkness informed him. “And you never will be again. Do not trap yourself in old habits; if you do not embrace aggression, embrace instinct, feeling – that which defined your greatest foe – you will be weak and of no use to me. The reason you are still alive, the reason you stand changed as you are, is because I see your potential. I still see you as useful... It would be unwise to change my perception. Put the shield down and learn to fight without it.”


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  • Posted 2013-04-08 07:22:15 UTC
    BZPRPG: Kini-Nui
    View post on BZP
  • Ic: The Toa Maru scratched about in the arena of shadow and were well aware that the night was dark and full of terrors.


    Ooc: Buffer reflection post for Nuju.

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  • Posted 2013-04-08 07:35:40 UTC
    BZPRPG: Kini-Nui
    View post on BZP
  • IC (Cael)


    Cael watched the Toa of Shadow melt away like summer snow; unlike her experience with Heuani, she felt no aching regret at the departure. All she felt was a creeping disgust for the creature that had just murdered the one who had murdered her, and then slipped away.


    It was an odd feeling for the healer: she wasn't one for hate. Her creed was to bring life and healing, not to tear others down, but she found herself unable to summon any more emotion for the vanished Toa of Shadow than a lingering repulsion.


    Heuani- she would freely admit that she had been attracted to him. More than that, even: though the though brought a blush of shame to her cheeks, she had wanted him, more than anything else she'd ever wanted before. To feel his touch, to taste his kiss, even though some deep part of her knew that she was flirting with disaster. Caressing death.


    He had murdered her. The thought went against logic; Heuani had killed others, and that was simple enough to comprehend, but he had also killed her. And yet she was alive. In all her years as a healer, she had never once heard of someone dying, and then rising again. Resurrection was impossible.


    Yet, here she was. Alive. And the Toa of Shadow no longer had any hold over her.


    She had watched Heuani die, suffocating on his own shadows like she had drowned in her own water, and had not felt any compulsion to help him. She had stood next to Joske, every sense tingling, ready to acknowledge a threat and respond as best as she could, because she knew the Toa of Shadow was evil. It seemed that death had freed her from the chains that so easily entangled.


    But her heart was not stone: as the Toa of Shadow breathed his last, and sank into the darkness that had once given him life, a flicker of pity had stirred to life. He had given everything to bring back this terrible beauty, just like Joske had given everything to bring her back. But the Great Spirit had not seen fit to let Heuani keep his own life. He had traded his life for another. The healer hadn't known that such a twisted creature was capable of compassion.


    His compassion would come back to haunt them, she was sure, as she watched this new Toa of Shadow slink away, her slender form perfect in every way, seeming to highlight every way in which the Toa of Water's was not.


    It was this view, drawing an envious gaze from the healer, that had prompted the cutting remark, so uncharacteristic of the gentle Toa of Water. She couldn't help it: she felt inadequate, and the sour taste of resentment coated her tongue as Joske's eyes followed the Toa of Shadow, lingering on her delicate curves. It wasn't fair: they had come so far, and sacrificed so much, only to see another evil unleashed on the island.


    The war would never end, she supposed, as she watched Joske hold Heauni's sword aloft, marvelling at its flawless weight and design. Her dream of a final, supreme peace was likely nothing more than that: just an idle dream. Always, there would be some darkness left in the corners, forgotten or missed, and, given time, it would flourish. Always, there would be a need for warriors and healers to drive that darkness back and begin the cycle again, that cycle in which peace would never be more than just a season.


    But as she watched the one she loved, and felt the warm sun on her shoulders, she smiled and decided that, just for once, she would let these concerns go. War could worry about itself when it came. For now, she would enjoy the peace while it lasted, for as long as she could.

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  • Posted 2013-04-08 18:13:58 UTC
    BZPRPG: Kini-Nui
    View post on BZP
  • IC:

    The Toa Maru, surrounded by impenetrable blackness, were drawn into stillness. The six heroes stood clumped together in defensive uncertainty; had it not been for Oreius' flame, they would not even have been able to see one another. The Toa of Fire's flickering light was the sole beacon of visibility in this incalculably vast chamber, and it only provided them with a few feet of illumination; after that point, it was as though the firelight was swallowed by the blackness. Not even the shadows conjured by the warped First Toa had been so deep. These shades were sunless ocean trenches that gave even Leah chills.


    The Maru could feel the other presence in the room. They knew they were being watched; the instants they waited seemed hours. Stannis stepped forward at last, embracing the deep black before him.


    "Makuta!" Stannis called out. "We have come!"


    A red light glowed into existence somewhere in the middle of the chamber; against the dull ruby flare, the Maru could make out a smallish silhouette. It walked towards them, its deft footfalls echoing like thunder off of distant walls. The red witch-light followed it, and as the silhouette drew nearer, the Maru could see that it was a small body, a Matoran; the hovering lantern bobbed above and behind it as it walked, leaving most of the figure still in shadow and casting the Maru in bloody relief. The Matoran stopped a few yards from Stannis, and looked up at him. The red light grew, finally revealing the Matoran in more detail.


    He was immediately recognizable to most of the party. It was Takua, and he looked just like when they had last seen him.


    "What?" Reordin gasped.


    "I have been waiting for you," Takua said.


    "But you- you are-" Oreius sputtered.


    "Takua," he replied, smiling as he always had, albeit with a touch of sad irony.


    "It's a trick!” Korero blurted, disbelieving.


    "This is no trick," Takua shook his head. "It is I; surely you remember me, Stannis, Oreius, Reordin, Sulov... I selected and shaped you. It pleases me to see how far you have come. Leah; you never met me, but I knew you were destined to make this journey. Korero, the hand of the Great Spirit has guided you here. It is more than I ever could have hoped. You are all such powerful, majestic heroes..."


    "Takua is dead," Sulov stated.


    "I am here," Takua assured him. "Or have I still not won your trust? You expect deception; entering here, it is only logical. I will do what I can to assuage your concerns. Behold."


    Across the chamber, another light flared into being, but this was unlike the red one that had borne Takua. This was another fire-light, like Oreius', but larger, more powerful. The orange light danced in the shape of a sword, and illuminated six other Toa standing across the chamber from the Toa Maru. They were the First Toa, but not as they'd been when the Maru had battled them. These weren't the deceitful shades of the present: these were the First Toa in all the glory of the past. They stood like gods, elemental angels, captured precisely by the light from Tahu's fire sword. The First Toa stared into the darkness above them, frozen in time but for the crackling of the flame.


    "You are in a hall of heroes," Takua said. "Your predecessors stood on the same ground. I followed the First Toa down here, and I saw their demise. Let me show you the chronicle."


    At Takua's words, the First Toa finally began to come to life. They moved with the fluid grace of the best warriors as they stood assembled below the whirling darkness above them. The Maru followed Takua's exampled and watched the scene unfold. They were transfixed by the errors of the past; they needed to see the First Toa fail. Tahu was the first to speak.


    “Makuta!” the Toa of Fire shouted brashly, brandishing his flaming weapon. “We have come!”Just as the red light had summoned Takua from the middle of the room for the Maru, another ruby lantern followed the progress of a Matoran towards the First Toa. There was an eerie sense of familiarity that the Maru, too transfixed by the scene before them, didn't have time to place. Their viewpoint swiveled around, so that they saw the scene from the perspective of the First Toa; the mysterious Matoran was walking to them.“What?” Tahu exclaimed in shock; neither he nor the others expected this. His sword lowered.“I have been waiting for you,” the Matoran explained. His entire body was corroded, the same vile texture as the infected Kanohi upon his face. Every movement of this corrupted Matoran produced grotesque crackles and squelches, like a thousand scabs being splintered. Lewa visibly shuddered.“But you- you are-” Tahu sputtered, confused.

    “I am that which you are sworn to protect,” the Matoran replied, spreading wide his arms, his oily eyes gleaming.

    “Tahu, it's a trick!” Kopaka chided urgently. “We must destroy him!”“Destroy me?” The Matoran challenged, humored. “You cannot destroy me. No more than you can destroy the sea, or the wind. Or... the void.”“You are like the sea?” Gali questioned in outraged disbelief. “The sea bears life! The sea bore us!”“I bore you,” the Matoran leered at Gali. “For I am Nothing. And out of Nothing, you came. And it is into Nothing that you will go.” He strode nearer, the pitted surface of his armor even more reviling under close inspection. The Matoran addressed all six First Toa, and his voice seemed to become deeper, not in pitch, but in gravity, as though the Matoran was drawing his words from the deepest shaft of the Great Mine. "I stand with Mata Nui side by side. I am his brother. The people of the world are builders. But look into their hearts... and you will find that they also have the power to destroy.


    "I am that power. I am destruction. And I will destroy you.”“But... you are but a Matoran!” Tahu objected. Kopaka looked extremely exasperated; Onua looked determined as always.“You expected something else?” the Matoran chuckled in answer. “Something like this?

    The Matoran was sucked backwards like a rag doll into the black forces behind him. The reddish light that had followed him rose too, rose until it was blocked by something black, the sun behind a cloud. But then the red light flashed into visibility again a moment later, much brighter, bright enough so that the whole chamber was dimly illuminated with red luminance. Revealed at last, the Toa could see that it was a cavernous space even more massive than they could've anticipated... and that almost the entirety of it, all the way up to its vaulted ceiling, was occupied by discrete, impenetrable, whirling, sickening serpents of dark energy. The whole chamber seemed a mass of these nauseating, writhing tentacles; they were a dire knot, a mutated brain, a swollen cloud. Somewhere in the middle of the convulsing shades symbolically floated the infected mask that the Matoran had been wearing, its eye sockets imbued with the vile red light. Terror unlike anything they had ever known filled the hearts of the First Toa and the Maru alike.


    Black whips, woven ropes the width of tree trunks, extended from the darkness above, lashed down at the First Toa. The Toa scattered, tried to stave back the dark tentacles, tried to use their mask powers, but their efforts were to no avail. Even they, the mightiest of heroes - they moved like gazelles, panthers, monkeys, elegance incarnate - could not fend off or long avoid the onslaught from the chuckling shadow above them. The Maru, who found themselves motionless, could only stand with Takua and watch the darkness flick away at the quick beings below it.

    “Our only hope is to work together!” Tahu called over the roaring sound of the dark tentacles and the slow booming laughter of their owner as he jumped to the side of a thick dark strand. He was the first to plant his feet and send a pillar of elemental energy up into the darkness above. Tahu's bright flames caught the attention of the other Toa better than his voice could have; they all followed suit, and pounded at Makuta with beams of pure elemental energy.


    All except one.


    One Toa stood still, and the dark tentacles did not try to pound him into the ground. Reordin felt his chest clamp as he realized who the lone Toa was. Heuani.


    "Kopaka!" Tahu shouted, his face a mask of exertion as he continued to spew maximum-power flames up into the dark being above. "What are you doing?"


    Kopaka wasn't looking at Tahu. His eyes were fixated very clearly on someone else. When the Toa of Ice, drawn from his trance, finally turned to look at the Toa of Fire, his face was blank.


    "What I want," Kopaka replied evenly.


    Tahu was struck in the side by a column of ice, and the darkness, seeing its opening, rushed with renewed ferocity and a delighted cackle at the First Toa, absorbing them in blackness at last... then the tableau faded. Kopaka's cool face, white against the happy blackness, was the last thing to disappear. The red illumination had departed, leaving things as dark as they had been before the vision. It was only the Toa Maru and Takua again. The Chronicler, his back still to them, spoke. His words bore the same ominous depth as the words from the first Matoran.


    "You cannot destroy Nothing," he intoned. "But Nothing can destroy you."


    Takua turned to the Toa Maru, and before their eyes, he started to corrode in the same way that the First Toa's Matoran had. Soon, the beloved face of the Chronicler was pockmarked and rusting, and his armor hissed as though acid had been poured over it. He smiled through rotting teeth and then was pulled into the deep darkness above him. The red light flared up once more, leaving the Toa Maru facing the same wrathful god as the First Toa.


    Dark ropes lashed towards them; they'd expected as much. What they hadn't expected was the other prong of the darkness's assault, the strategy that had felled Kopaka: an attack on their minds. Each of the Maru was shown their worst fears multiplied, their greatest desires fulfilled. One was a threat, the other a promise; both were incredibly compelling. The visions were irresistible, just like Heuani had been.


    Makuta's attack began.

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  • Posted 2013-04-12 08:19:50 UTC
    BZPRPG: Kini-Nui
    View post on BZP
  • IC (Korero)


    There was a flash of white as Korero teleported out of the path of the massive, writhing black tentacles that hurtled towards him. But as he rematerialised, a vision forced itself into his brain, swifter even than the ropes of shadow.


    He saw the villages burning.


    Just in time, he managed to roll out of the way of another incoming tentacle.


    Matoran screaming. Dying.


    He twisted to avoid an attack, but it caught his elbow, so hard it almost yanked his arm from its socket.


    He saw his new teammates shun him. "We failed, and it's your fault," came a cold voice: Stannis. "We don't need you any more. Go home."


    As he narrowly dodged the next tentacle that came at him, Korero span, raising his shield into the air, and brought its sharp edge down on the twisting mass that still rushed by next to him. It bounced off, harmless.


    But there was no home to go to.


    "No!" he wrenched his eyes shut involuntarily, trying in vain to force the visions from his head - and in that second of vulnerability, he didn't see the next cluster of shadow ropes that punched into his back with more force than a Tarakva, sending him skidding across the hard stone floor.


    Ko-Koro was gone, melting into the glacier, its knowledge lost forever, just like the other five Koro; destroyed because of him. Bloody retribution for his defiance to the Lord of Shadows.


    Korero pulled himself up to kneel on one knee, every bone in his body seeming to vibrate from the impact. As he reopened his eyes, he saw black tentacles spiral around him, forming an impenetrable shell of night.


    Do you see, Korero? came the nightmare voice in his head, a booming bass octaves deeper than any Matoran voice. Do you understand the price of your resistance? You will fail, and the villages you hold dear will be razed as punishment tenfold for your folly. Your teammates will leave you. You will be alone again. Again and forever. Is that what you want?


    "No..." Korero gasped, struggling to draw breath and keep the tears from his eyes at the thought. "We'll...destroy you..."


    Have you learned nothing? the voice replied. You cannot destroy me. I AM Destruction. The Darkness. The Void. And I already have you within my power - trapped, like an insect in my palm. You cannot escape.


    The walls of tentacles swirled around him, and began to close in, indeed like a palm closing on a trapped insect. But Korero looked up once more, and his brows moved into a defiant frown.


    "No," he said simply.


    No? the voice replied, sounding amused.


    "I think you forgot to consider my mask in your calculations."


    White light covered Korero's body, and he was gone. As he rematerialised from the Jump, he stumbled - that was the first time he'd used the Hiko to jump somewhere he couldn't see, and the slight discrepancy in his memory had caused him to reappear several bio from where he'd intended - and about a foot higher in the air.


    The naturally nimble Toa of Air soon regained his footing, however, just in time to Jump out of the path of some incoming tentacles. Of course, Korero realised, Makuta must have known about his mask - the dark entity must have realised it was no mere Kualsi - but perhaps he didn't know the exact nature of its enhanced abilities...


    Or maybe it was a ruse, and Makuta was toying with him. He didn't have time to ponder which; there were more immediate dangers at hand.


    Such as the mass of shadow-ropes trying to rip him limb from limb.


    As he was narrowly clipped once again, paying the price for his moment of contemplation, another vision manifested in his mind's eye - but this one inspired neither fear nor pain.


    "Oh..." he whispered.

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  • Posted 2013-04-18 16:35:27 UTC
    BZPRPG: Kini-Nui
    View post on BZP
  • IC: There was a moment of shocked silence as the Maru watched the conjured-up image of the first Toa's defeat. Leah found herself unable to look away, though she wanted to. "Kopaka! What are you doing?" The image of Kopaka wasn't looking at Tahu. His eyes were fixated very clearly on someone else. At the time, Tahu had not been able to see who it had been, but watching the events like this, Leah could see it and she felt her stomach tighten. When the Toa of Ice, drawn from his trance, finally turned to look at the Toa of Fire, his face was blank. "What I want," Kopaka replied evenly. So that is how they fell... the Toa Maru of water thought. She remembered the look in the golden eyes of the Toa of shadow earlier, holding the broken form of his sister. She had been right. There had been no lie in his eyes that moment. And now that she knew the reason behind it, the thought of what Makuta had done to them sickened her even more than it had before. And she renewed the quiet promise to herself that she would never let the others become trapped in the same situation. Is that so? a dark voice suddenly echoed in her head. It had not spoken aloud but the source was clear in her mind. Her head instantly turned to the perceived speaker: The chronicler, who had watched the events of the past with them, his back turned. Now the images of the first Toa had faded away, only Kopaka's ghostly Akaku lingered for a second longer, a dark memorial. But Takua remained and Leah noticed she could not get a read on him with her mask. The Ruhaku showed now aura around the chronicler. And Leah instinctively felt that something was very, very wrong about him. "You cannot destroy Nothing," he intoned. "But Nothing can destroy you." He turned around and the Maru took a step back. He looked like an animated corpse that was dissolving into rusty flakes and shadow. And just like in the past, these bits were suddenly pulled away into the darkness, only to reveal a whirling mass of evil in mid-air, floating before them. There was just a moment to take in the sight. The swirling shadows took the shapes and forms of mechanical parts, a writhing abomination of what seemed to be bodies that had been torn limb from limb. There were shapes that looked like torsi, arms, legs - all twisting and turning around themselves and each other in a disgusting dance, a perverted image of all of Mata Nui's creations. Leah could study the individual pieces just long enough to feel her heart begin to sink. For a fraction of a second she wondered how their powers, amazing as they were, could hope to stand against such a force of evil. Because they have to! she could hear herself think. The righteous anger inside her flared up once more; a burning feeling of defiance that matched her anxiety and kept it at bay. Yes, she was definitely afraid, afraid of what would happen if they failed. But she and the others had to face Makuta, regardless of their fear, because they knew what would happen if he was not stopped. This was their destiny. And they would have to fight to fulfill it. Tendrils of shadow shot out from the dark mass, Makuta turning into they very nightmare he was said to be, racing towards the team of Toa, who sprang into action. Leah saw Korero vanish in a flash of light out of the corners of her eyes, as she threw herself into a backflip. She landed on her hands, kept up the momentum and flipped two more times, staying out of reach of the shadows. She had barely landed when she was suddenly hit from the side and she realized the dark tube-like shaodws were coming in from above and behind her as well. She struck the ground hard with her side and slid a few feet, before she found a hold again, ducked under another tendril and got back on her feet. You are merely delaying the inevitable. I've heard that before today. Didn't do your pawns much good. More shadows came in to seize her. She was so focused on them, she couldn't see how the others were fairing. Leah threw her hand from right to left, using the moisture in the dank air to fuel her powers and the next instant a wave formed in mid-air, colliding with the shadows, battering them away. More came in fast from the left and she brought up another liquid barrier that held them at bay on that side. But whenever she blocked the tendrils, more came in from other directions. There was no way she could block them all like this and conserve her energies simultaneously. And the others were not going to fare any better at this rate. She needed to get rid of them first so she could regroup with the others. Her staff began to twirl in her hands, the walls of water obeying her command, beginning to rotate as well, faster and faster. The shadows tried to get at her, but the Toa of water was surrounded by a maelstrom that didn't allow them access. You came here thinking you would be heroes, Makuta's voice boomed in her head again, but you will not find victory here, only death. The voice seemed to pierce straight through her, sending shivers down her spine, but Leah would not cave in because of the same threats the dark one's servants were making all the time. It seemed their master was little more creative with them than his subjects. The Toa's eyes narrowed. Then you will die with us, Makuta. Wether we live or die, we are taking you down! A dark chuckle came as the response. Bold words, my foolish little Toa, but you fail to realize... Suddenly, the shadows whirled, formed into their own moving wall, rotating counter to the water and forming spikes on the inside. The shadows constricted, hitting the water and went straight through it. Leah extended her arms, reinforcing the wall and pushing the water outward, resisting the shadows, but after a few seconds she could feel her muscles start to twitch as she was starting to become overpowered. She gritted her teeth as she continued to hold on despite the fact. ...I defeated the first Toa. And they were far more powerful than you. That is all you care about, isn't it? Your power does not make you great! ,she spat back mentally. Says the bug about to be crushed by the heel of the one infinitely your greater - but you are right, it is not my power that will defeat you... ...your own weakness will do it for me. Suddenly, it was as if she was back in the trial of the keeping place. A cold blackness washed over her and she was briefly disoriented as the shadows closed in around her. Leah reacted instinctively, summoned her powers to resist against the onslaught of Makuta, but his attack was too powerful and as they slammed together there was nothing she could do. The shadows rushed in and she saw nothing... "Wake up." The words entered her mind softly. There was a tone of caring, but also anxiety in it. "Wake up, Leah. The celebration will start soon." She knew the voice. Had known it for a long time. Lazily, the Toa of water opened her eyes. She blinked as bright sunlight fell into her eyes, blinding her. She moved her head, feeling strangely stiff, then tried to look again. Her vision focused and the blurry shapes formed into the wood and leaf construction on the inside of a Le-Koro hut. Surprised, Leah gasped. She was home. Or at least back in Le-Koro. By the angle she judged the time to be early morning. The birds were singing and she thought she could hear other Matoran voices join in on the natural melody of the jungle from outside. "Come on. The...others, they are waiting for you." her visitor said, a bit louder, now that she was obviously awake. Her head turned to the side and a familiar face came into view, a Matoran wearing a powerless Zatth. It was Sisk. He was looking at her with big eyes that showed equal parts of awe and worry, though Leah didn't understand the latter. After all, she had not seen him quite a while and the last time she had still been a Matoran. But why would he be worried? She wanted to know, but at the same time there was a feeling that that question would have to wait and so she just nodded. "Thank you, Sisk. I'll be right out." He nodded and took his leave. She swung her legs out over the side of the bed and got up, still feeling rather tired. But considering what she had been through, it wasn't really surprising. Still, she felt oddly out of touch with herself, moving automatically according to habit. After a drink of water she grabbed her staff, put it on her back and stepped out of the hut, where Sisk was waiting. She nodded at him and they started to move through the village. This part was surprisingly empty, but when they reached the bridge to cross to the next platform that mystery resolved itself. Guardsmen stood at the opposite end of the bridge, keeping it closed off. And in front of them, looking in the direction of the Toa, were well over two dozen Matoran. As soon as she came into view, the villagers began cheering and chanting. She noticed that there weren't just Le-Matoran, but people from Ta-Koro and the other villages as well. It seemed like the whole island was present here. She looked at Sisk. "So many?" He nodded. "It's not every day that you save the whole island." he replied. They continued to move, the crowd opening up before them, but theie number didn't seem to decrease as they moved further into the village. Everywhere she looked, bystanders were applauding and then followed them as she passed by and walked towards the center of the village. Soon, they reached the main-platform where even more Matoran were gathered. From what she could see though, she and Sisk were headed for a clearing opposite the Turaga's hut, where a stone-statue had been erected to commemorate the recent victory. There was a long podium in front of it, but right now, all eyes were either on her or the door to the Turaga's hut. Sisk led her through the crowd until they reached the podium and Leah wondered where the others were, since this was their team's victory. Her oldest friend stopped at the foot of the pedestal and together they turned, waiting quietly for what would happen next, watching the hut with the celebrating crowd. And then the door opened.

    Thunderous applause welcomed Kongu as he stepped out into the light. To Leah's surprise, he was not in his guard-uniform. Instead, the captain wore elegant robes in style of a Turaga. They were a deep crimson that contrasted nicely with the green of his armour underneath and were decorated with black stitching running the full length of it in a pattern that seemed familiar to Leah, though she couldn't quite place it. Kongu raised his hands like a chaplain as he moved towards her and Sisk, who stood up a little straighter. Following Kongu were the other leaders of the villages. Hahli, Nuparu, Jaller, Hewkii, Matoro. And they all were clad in the same festive robes, each in a contrasting colour to their respective element. Leah smiled contently. It had been long since the villages had come together like this. The six Matoran nodded at her, returning the smile, as they passed her and ascended the three steps to the podium. Standing in a line, Kongu looked to Jaller and the others, who nodded slightly, before the captain began to speak. "My friends!" Kongu called out loudly, over the cheering. "We have come together here, today, to celebrate the beginning of a new era for the Island of Mata Nui!" The crowd exploded into even more cheering in response, but when Kongu spoke again, it quickly died down again. "Today, we no longer have to live in uncertainty. Today, we no longer have to wonder about a sleeping great spirit. Because today, we begin an age of peace; and prosperity; for all of us!" Again, a wave of applause washed over them. Leah smiled. A short while ago, such speeches would have seemed so far away, that hearing this one was more than she could ever have hoped for. And Kongu continued: "And we owe this peace, this new age, all of our well-being, to a group of heroes! Let us welcome them as they deserve it!" The crowds heads turned once more, back to the former Turaga's hut. "My friends, here they are...the Toa Maru!" From the double-doors of the hut, five more figures emerged. The crowd roared. First up was Stannis, fittingly. The Maru's leader was walking with his usual stride, confident, sure of himself and his abilities. But his armour showed definite signs of battle, despite being polished to a shine. Behind him followed Reordin, looking like he had been through the same ordeal but still moving like she knew he did. Korero and Oreius followed, and last to exit the hut was Sulov, who had to duck a little to avoid the door's upper frame. By now, Leah smiled from ear to ear. This was everything and more than she could have hoped for. The villagers were all here, her friends, her was perfect. They had won, fulfilled their destiny and saved the island and were now free to celebrate that victory together! She moved forward with sure steps, to welcome the others to the square, to hug Reordin and share the joyous occasion with them. She was just a few steps away when a rogue thought crossed through her mind:

    Yes, everything is perfect, is it not? Everything you always dreamed of. Everything yours, you just have to take just have to give in. It was as if the thought had not been her own. Somebody else's words had entered her mind. And she realized that all this was a bit too perfect. And something suddenly felt off. Then she finally realized who was speaking to her. And that she was trapped, trapped in her own mind...or was she? Was this a vision of the near future or just an illusion? Right now, there was no way to tell. But she knew this was not what she wanted. No! Not like this! We will never bow to you, Makuta! I will never bow to you! You think you still have a choice...but you do not. This is your destiny. You claim one destiny, the great spirit offers us another! There is always a choice! Leah mentally screamed back, though the scene in front of her eyes played out uninterrupted. And I chose to defy you! There is no escape, Toa...if you do not submit of your own will, then I will force you - and you will pay the price for your insolence! Leah was still on the main-square in Le-Koro. She stepped in front of her team, looking at Stannis, Korero and then at Reordin. The Toa of ice tried to avoid looking back at her. But when she reached up and touched his cheek, gently pulling his face in her direction their eyes met and she could see the unfamiliar expression, the discomfort, perhaps even...disgust? She could hear herself ask the question: "What's wrong?" But the tone of her voice was not the one she would have used. It was spiteful, enjoying the obvious discomfort Reordin felt. Then Kongu spoke again and she stepped past Reordin, standing next to the rest of the team, watching the captain. Leah felt her stomach sink, because when she looked at him again, she could see that there were shadows dancing behind the Matoran's eyes. "Here they are! Your so-called heroes. We truly have to thank them." he said, suddenly not as friendly anymore. There was a dark glee in his voice. "If it had not been for these brave Toa, we would have never gotten this chance to live in peace. Through their efforts, the true great spirit finally managed to take back his righteous place, by using that which had been stolen from him so long ago." Once again, the crowd cheered. And now she could make out the words. The Matoran were calling for their blood. And Leah knew there was no hope if Makuta had taken the essences from them. But if he took the essences back, that means I... "But let us not forget their true intentions! While they may have inadvertently brought us this victory, these five Toa Maru would have seen us all suffer and eventually die while enforcing their blasphemous moral code. And so they must be brought to justice!" Kongu had only spoken of five of them. He looked each of them in the eyes and they knew that there was no hope, not without the essences, not without any sort of power. Leah felt as if somebody had poured ice-water into her veins. Her mind went back to the prophecy Stannis had mentioned. Oreius' betrayal. Had she been wrong about him after all? But then the captain spoke again, over the repeating chorus calling for justice and blood: "And so, by the power invested in us, your leaders, we will consult the Makuta, to come to a sentence befitting of your crimes!" The Matoran leaders turned around, to face the statue while kneeling down and closing their eyes. They began to mumble words she couldn't understand, while the gathered crowd began to cheer once more. Leah looked up...and saw that the statue they were all cheering for was one of the Makuta, not Mata Nui. Distraught, she stepped forward, so she could run forward, past the six leaders, in order to topple over this monument of evil. But instead of doing what she wanted to, her arms merely rose up like those of a chaplain and to her horror, the armor on them was black, perfectly shaped to fit her body and almost reflecting no light safe for the very sharpest ridges. And she had only realized it now, though the armour had been that way since this vision had begun. She was no longer a Toa of water and she realized Makuta had done to her what he had done to the Mata, to Reka and the others. Her gesture quieted down the gathered Matoran. And there was nothing she could do to stop it. The darkness speaking to her chuckled. All you had to do...was give in and this would not have come to pass. But you chose your own fate and now you suffer the consequences. For long seconds she stood motionless with her arms held up, until Kongu finally rose again. Silence presided over the crowd and the Maru. The other village-leaders stepped up besides their brother and eyed the Maru coldly. "We have spoken to the Makuta and in his mercy, he has granted you the least painful punishment possible." "The death." Leah's hands sunk again as the Matoran began to chant once more. She looked at Kongu and he gave her a subtle nod while making a waving motion with his right hand. Matoran guards entered the square, six of them, each equipped with a polearm. They moved in behind the Maru and bound their hands with thick vines behind their backs, then rammed their weapons into backs of their knees. The Toa collapsed into kneeling positions. Leah watched helplessly as her friends were bound. Somewhere deep down she knew this was a nightmare, that the others would never let themselves be treated this way normally, but it felt all too real right now, and there was nothing she could do to get out. And the fear of what would happen next didn't let her think clearly. Like in a trance, she stepped forward and reached behind her back, her hand firmly grasping the grip of her staff. It slid out of it's sheath with ease and she held the weapon in front of her. Shadow-energy flowed from her hands into the protosteel. Black threads wrapped and twisted themselves down the length of the shaft, until they formed the blade of a scythe out of pure darkness. It was as sharp and deadly as any real blade. "And who would be more fitting to carry out the sentence then our greatest hero herself!" Kongu called to the masses. She could her them shout her name, encouraging her. "She, who stood up for what is right , as she always has, when her brethren would not do the same, when they betrayed all of us." The weapon felt perfectly balanced in her hand as Leah walked around the other Maru. On the inside she tried to resist, but she could not stop herself - she was forced to see what she was doing, hear how Kongu's words, under these circumstances, rang true in her ears, despite her better knowledge. This was Makuta's punishment for her. She stepped up behind Sulov first and held the scythe up to his neck, taking aim. Then, she pulled back her arms in an arch. The Toa of earth turned his head and their eyes met briefly...and his expression was one of pity. Everything in her screamed against going through with this madness. She wanted out, now, she wanted it to be over. But the dark one had been right. There was no escape. And then the scythe came down and Leah could feel the fine red mist hit her front and face and realized her body was enjoying the terrible crime she had just comitted. She screamed, inaudibly, inside her own mind, while the Matoran cheered. And then she stepped back and moved on to Oreius, then Korero. And each of them looked at her one last time before they died, the accusation plainly visible in their eyes. Then she moved on to Stannis and heard herself speak. "Did you foresee this as well, prophet?" But there was no reply and his death went by as quickly, brutally and quietly as those of the others...and then there was only Reordin left. And instead of stepping behind him, Leah stepped in front of the defenseless Toa of ice. He looked at her and on the inside the Toa of water cried. She had made a promise...that she would never risk him because of her own actions. Yet, here she was, bearing the blood of the others on her hands. And soon, the blood of the one she cared about the most in this world as well, because she would not willingly go into the night to save him. Why can't you save him? somebody spoke up beside her, though the voice seemed to be inside her head. She froze, the shadowy scythe merely pointing at Reordin. She held his gaze, the blue of his eyes locked with the golden pools of her tainted form...until she couldn't take it any more. She looked to her right and suddenly saw Sisk again, the same worried expression on his face he had had when she had woken up in the hut earlier. It's Makuta...he's taken control...he's making me do this, making me watch. Why is he making you watch?


    She continued to hold the scythe in place. Sisk was standing there, seemingly unnoticed by the crowd surrounding them and talking to her mentally. It was the weirdest feeling the Toa could ever remember having. Since this wasn't real but also without a clear way out, Sisk had to be a manifestation of some sort. She was literally arguing with herself, one part of her trapped in the illusion, while the other knew it wasn't real and tried to pull her back. It is my punishment. For? For disobedience. I was supposed to serve, I refused. But this isn't real, this is all in your head. Why is he making you watch? Because...because he's trying to break me. There was a long pause and then Sisk merely said: Why? And then things clicked into place for Leah. Kongu stepped forward from the line of Matoran on the podium. "What are you waiting for, Toa Leah? He is a traitor and the sentence is death! Finish him!" The dark Toa looked back over her shoulder to the captain. Her grip on the scythe was tight. She eyed Kongu and the others and then her eyes fell on the statue that had been erected in honour of Makuta. No. This was all wrong. She looked back to the left, where the other Maru lay and then down at herself, the crimson droplets running down her immaculate, perfect armour and body. It was all wrong. "Toa Leah!" Kongu called out again, reinforced by the crowd this time. "No." the Toa said and finally, she was able to control her body again. The others are waiting for you. Sisk had said. But he had not been referring to the doomed images of her brethren that Makuta made her see...he meant the Maru in the real world, fighting Makuta while she was fighting in the confines of her own head. But if her own mind created mental versions of the people she knew here, that meant Makuta had to do the same in order for the vision to work the way he intended to. And if that was the case... She looked back to Reordin. "I made you a promise." she said. He looked back at her and she could see a hint of the smile that she loved to see. "I know," he replied, his eyes no longer cold, "now go, get him, Leah." She turned around and raised the scythe once more, but not to bring about any more suffering. The village-leaders (and Makuta by proxy) looked at her incredulously as the Toa that had brought them this victory betrayed them in the very moment they were trying to cement it. The next moment, the Toa of shadow sprang into action. With her incredible speed and strength, she charged. Kongu and Jaller jumped to the sides as she used the podium as a single step, launched herself into the air and brought the scythe up behind her back. Using the momentum she swung it downward with as much force as she could muster, aiming right for the hideous face carved on the statue of Makuta and buried the blade deep in the obsidian stone. No! And then the illusion shattered around her. The crowd, the village, the bodies, it all faded away in an instant, leaving Leah breathless and in the dark once more. She waited for the sensation to pass, for her to come back into the real world, but it didn't. She opened her eyes and felt the cold rush on her skin as she tried to move. And the realization struck her instantly. When Makuta had attacked her both physically and mentally she had curled up inside a sphere of water, stopping the shadows from crushing her. And what had seemed like an hour in her mind couldn't have lasted more than a few minutes here in the real world. But a few minutes was as long as she could last under water. She was not Gali, she had no Kaukau to allow her to breathe while submerged. Sure, she could last much longer than other Toa without that particular mask, but that didn't mean more than five to ten minutes at best. And her lungs were demanding she get some fresh air soon. Her hands and erupted with blue glowing energy, reflected in her eyes, as she tapped into her real element again, brutally forcing the sphere of water apart. The water twisted and turned, splashing loudly while tearing through the shadows and washing them away like a flood in a storm. Dripping, but free, the Toa of water drew in deep breaths. She didn't look up for the longest time, didn't look at the darkness reforming to attack again. But it moved more carefully, the Toa's display of power giving it momentary pause. This changes nothing., it growled. "No, today, everything changes. Even you." she replied. "Because you are afraid. Afraid of me. Afraid of us. Why else would you create such visions and offer the deals you offer? You couldn't stop us when we were Matoran, you couldn't even stop us before we knew our destinies. You can not stop us now. So you try to seduce us, so that we would bring about our own the Mata did before us." "But you were right..." she said, her voice quiet, but collected. "You were right...about one thing." Leah raised her head, her blue eyes glowing with fierce determination and her hands clenched into fists, laden to the brim with elemental energy, ready to be unleashed. "Nothing can destroy us...if we believe in nothing. If we believe more in your words than in each other." The Toa of water smiled, her hand firmly on her bo-staff, as she remembered an old Le-Matoran saying. "Good-actions bring good-faith. You have done neither. Quite the opposite, really." She chuckled. Even in the heart of darkness, her old humour found a way to come through. Silence! the Makuta's voice boomed. I gave you the option of survival in servitude...but instead you prefer to be doomed! There was a pause as their enemy regained his composure. So be it. Leah didn't flinch and instead assumed a ready position, staff raised and eyes defiant and determined and still smiling. "Bring it on, Makuta. I dare you."

  • Edited on 2013-04-20 23:07:05 by Vezok's Friend
  • Tags:
  • Posted 2013-04-20 23:08:56 UTC
    BZPRPG: Kini-Nui
    View post on BZP
  • IC (Oreius)


    The nightmare swirling above their heads sprang to terrible life as hundreds of writhing tentacles and twisted limbs swooped towards the Toa Maru, who stood in the centre of the cavernous chamber, small and insignificant in comparison to the monstrous immensity of the eldritch darkness.


    Takua's rotted mask gazed down at Mata Nui's chosen, its scarlet eyes burning with a malice deeper than the Great Mine. Of one thing the Maru could be certain: the Makuta was powerful, and he hated them. Unless they bent to his will, he would not cease his attack until he had scoured the life from their corpses.


    Oreius dove to the side as a mass of black snakes struck at the place he had stood only moments before. The sheer strength of the dark appendages cracked the bedrock, throwing up a cloud of dust and stone splinters; had the Toa of Fire not moved in time, he would have been crushed.


    But this narrow escape was only the first counter to a seemingly never-ending succession of attacks. The Toa of Fire rolled to his feet only to leap over a second assault; blades and claws made of shadow passed under him almost faster than the eye could track, scarce inches from his scarlet armour.


    His left hand swung out; his blade flashed; a yellow flame flared in the dim crimson light of the gargantuan chamber, and several of the twisted, unnatural appendages fell to the stone floor, dissolving into smoky shadows. This did not grant him even a brief respite: the Darkness threw another furious barrage of shades at the Toa of Fire, forcing him back on the defensive.


    Ducking under, jumping over, around and around: Oreius and Inu danced with the Makuta. The Toa of Fire slashed at the shadows again and again, but for every serpent he cut from the source, another two appeared. The Darkness was infinite; it could not be hacked apart like its lesser minions. It was only a matter of time before Oreius either ran out of stamina, or made a mistake.


    It was the latter.


    The Toa of Fire moved one way to dodge a strike, and a dozen arms of shadow slammed into him from his blind side. His breath left his lungs in a whoosh as he tumbled head over heels to the ground, his armour throwing up sparks as he skidded along the cold stone.


    This might have been the end: his body was breathless and his mind was dizzy, and the Darkness reared up like a striking snake to destroy him once and for all. As a thousand terrible spears of shadow fell like meteors, Oreius felt Inu force his way through the Toa of Fire's weakened mind and tear through their body in a flood of golden energy, setting fire to their frame as though it were kindling, and throwing their body to the side and to their feet, so that the Makuta's fatal strike struck nothing but stone.


    The two were one, and now Oreius understood Inu's plight: he felt the parakuka's anguish at being forced to confront his Father and his Maker. Onewa had taught Inu to hate destruction, the very thing the Makuta craved above all else; now the parakuka was caught in the centre of these warring ideals, forced to make a choice.


    He chose to fight his sire and his god.


    They leapt over the next barrage of tentacles, their new muscles carrying them higher and farther than Oreius could have hoped to travel on his own. Their swords spun and struck like lightning, glinting in the soft scarlet light of the Makuta's lair, severing shadow from shadow and cutting the Darkness from itself.


    As they whirled and ducked in this deadly choreography, they felt a new, third presence press itself into their mind. They resisted, their golden thoughts striving to hold the gap, but sinuous, smoky thoughts filtered through each crack left unattended, filling their mind like a polluted fog.


    Their dance faltered; a serpent struck home, leaving a long gash in their armour. They beheaded the treacherous snake, but a second struck them in in the back, knocking them into a roll. All the while, the smog twisted through their mind, and a deep, ageless voice whispered to them, darker than the spaces between the stars.


    You cannot win.


    They whirled to cut down an ugly knot of striking tentacles before it could slam into them, but a rope twisted around their feet in a moment, pulling them down.


    You would have better luck defeating a storm, or destroying the night.


    They roared in rage as they cut the serpent from their ankles, springing up only to be knocked back down by another black rope, thicker than a tree, smashing into their chest. Their armour buckled under the blow.


    For how can you defeat... THIS?


    Their mind's eye expanded in horror as the Makuta unleashed a karzahni of terrors upon the Toa and the parakuka. They struggled to their feet, but could not stop the flow of images and sounds and smells that the Makuta threw upon them. They saw the island of Mata Nui burning, wreathed in smoke and flames. Matoran screamed as they roasted alive; Rahi shrieked in terror as the jungle was engulfed in fire.


    This is my power.


    Mount Ihu fell, its majestic cliffs crumbling. Ga-Koro sank, ravaged by demonic storms that prodded the ocean until it burst out in anger.


    This is what YOU will unleash upon this island when you fail, worthless Matoran that you are, aping the First Toa as though you could ever be worthy of the name.


    Ta-Koro died in the lava that gave it life; the village of fire sank into the magma below the earth; its proud walls collapsed. It villagers drowned in liquid fire.


    You cannot hope to win.


    Their steps slowed; their blows had no strength behind them. The serpents descended, hungry for blood.


    But... you can still live.


    Their mind was filled with the dream Oreius had dreamed in Ko-Wahi: he had chosen to abandon the other Maru (they all fear and mistrust you) and the Prophecy (Mata Nui is cruel; his Prophecy killed Aurax) and take up his own destiny. They took on the Makuta himself, and emerged victorious, bringing light and life back to Mata Nui.


    Matoran cheered their names; they were named Shadowslayer and Lightbringer. Under their wise guidance, the island began to rebuild, and become the paradise it was supposed to be.


    Stannis dreamed you would betray him.


    They saw a sprawling city, lit by the glow of the late afternoon sun. The golden light caused everything to glow, every spire sparkling clean and bright, every dome shining.


    It is meant to be. This is how the Prophecy will be fulfilled.


    Lofty cathedrals towered over the roads and walkways, their walls built of precious metals and stained glass. Sections of the city were composed merely of green parks and forests, the delicate beauty of the flora intermingled with urban elegance.


    Matoran and Toa walked the streets of the city together; Skakdi and Vortixx strolled in the parks without squabbling or scrapping. There was no violence to be seen anywhere; there was no war; there was nothing but peace and beauty as far as the eye could see.


    I can give this to you.


    Oreius felt the pressure build in his mind, felt Inu's stream of pictures and sensations slow as the parakuka submitted to the will of his Father. Images from the Makuta's mind flashed instead in his brain, visions of a liberated, peaceful Mata Nui, where all were equal, and all were free.


    You see what you can do? The Darkness whispered. You can make this island great again. I can give you the power to restore your home to its glory. All you have to do is ask...


    The tendrils of shadow drifted at the Toa's side, no longer attacking him, but tenderly coaxing him on. Oreius' eyes fell upon Stannis, who fought his own battle with the Makuta only a few metres away, his polearm flashing as it rose and fell.


    All he had to do was strike him down.


    It has been prophesied, has it not, Oreius? The Makuta hissed, the dark, limitless voice terrifying in its immensity. Stannis knows you will betray him. You know it. This is your moment: fulfil destiny, and use my power to take back your home.


    Oreius remembered his dream; he remembered seeing himself as a Toa with scarlet armour trimmed in jet. Strong. Powerful. He remembered the Mata Nui in his vision: it had been beautiful and free. The Toa Maru thought their success depended on defeating the Makuta, but Oreius saw the truth now: their success hinged on his betrayal. Only by betraying these Toa for destiny's sake could the Prophecy truly be fulfilled, a darkness cast from Mata Nui.


    His swords rose, cool flames licking over the cold steel.


    Do it, came the malicious susurration, filling the every corner of the Toa's mind. You cannot refuse destiny.


    Wait, what?


    Oreius blinked, and in that millisecond, it all came rushing back. He remembered Turaga Vakama, and Ta-Koro, and that day when he, a lowly Matoran, had chosen to defy destiny. He had given up everything, even though he'd known it would likely be for nothing, and turned away from the Prophecy. Ironically, it had been that moment of defiance that had led him here, to this turning point, where all destiny hung in the balance.


    And it was then, in that moment, that Oreius realized why he had been Chosen.


    “You're wrong,” he replied simply “I can.”


    The Darkness recoiled, its gentle words corroding in a instant; its wisdom spoiled and became hate once more. It lashed out at the Toa, but Oreius was ready. Pulling his mind away from the shadows that had so nearly captured him, he breathed in, felt the warmth of the energy that burned in his veins, then exhaled, letting it all out in a blast of light and heat that, for a moment, forced even the mighty Makuta to hide.


    The shadowy tentacles retreated, blistered by the sudden appearance of the sun in the darkest depths of Mangaia. Oreius let his energy flow out through his fingers: his swords caught fire, and he attacked the Foe once more. Wherever his blades fell, light burned into the darkness.


    The Makuta lashed out again at the Toa, its rage terrifying in its immensity, but Oreius responded with a second eruption of fire that pushed the shadows back. The tattered remains of amputated appendages littered the stony floor, dissolving back into the darkness they had come from.


    Again and again, the Darkness threw itself at its enemy. Each time, it came closer, but it was unable to strike down the living torch. Oreius' very armour was wreathed in flames; the Toa of Fire burned in the darkness like a star come to earth as he fought, as though he were an angel sent by the Great Spirit himself to push back the shadows and bring the dawn.


    For the second time, Oreius had chosen to defy prophecy, and he knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that it was Mata Nui's will.

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  • Posted 2013-04-21 00:58:27 UTC
    BZPRPG: Kini-Nui
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    Reordin’s heart pounded to the beat of a traitor's whims.


    Tentacles, black like coal and hard like the cores of boulders, whipped and frothed like the sea of foam leaking from a rabid dog's mouth. The Darkness struck at the ground underneath their feet, leaving tiny cracks in the ground's surface where they landed; Makuta left them no corner, spared no expense in attempting to extinguish the Toa Maru, the New Toa, the heroes of prophecy.




    But Reordin stood fast, watched the chaos push outwards at the seams and bubble over into pandemonium. Elemental blasts bombarded the darkness, tokens of justice and light in a cavernous hellhole of wrath, of darkness. Stone, fire, air, earth, water: they all pushed, expanded over, set blaze to the darkness. No ice joined them; there was no sudden, unshakable chill to the room, nor was there any frigid, cutting snark. Reordin stood still, his chest clamped in a vice that had always hugged him without him realizing it.


    And the Darkness did not touch him.


    Leah turned, looking for her teammate, searching frantically for the piece that had been missing from her puzzle; she found it cast away under the table, watching with the handsome, blank face of a statue as his destiny danced around him, taunted him, cuddled close to him and kissed at his flesh and then pulled away cruelly. She had seen the same vision he had; she knew what had happened in this very spot, one hundred years before, and her beautiful face grew terrible in its fear, its sudden desperation to try and make things right, to try and fix the future by preventing the past from digging its wretched roots too deep.


    "Reordin! No!"


    And then, as she stood half-turned towards him, one tender, warm hand reached out to hold his, the Darkness lashed against her, and before his eyes ash turned to ash, dust to dust. She was gone.




    Takua stepped forward from the darkness, walking past the battling Maru as though the hallway of heroes was but a park to stroll through with a lover or a pet; his arms were outstretched, his warm, brotherly eyes proud, his smile warm and nurturing like the sunlight hundreds of feet above their heads. None of his team stopped him; no one mourned Leah after she disappeared. No one else tried to help the Toa of Ice; no one mourned Reordin after he slipped away. But Takua understood: it was clear in his face as he stepped forward, meeting Reordin's gaze despite the height disadvantage. There was Nothing to fear from him; how could there be? Then Takua spoke, and when he did the voice was wretched, the slithering of a thousand serpents across a slippery floor, the sound of darkness stomping down on one's chest as the cold feeling of death encroached, the awful cacophony that sounded whenever a man's heart broke.


    "There is darkness within you," Takua jeered, his voice a cold sneer that did not synch right with his parental features. "Yet you fight against Makuta. Why?"


    There was a curious noise like wind rushing in his ears as Takua stepped back, his visage becoming cold, dark, pitted and pockmarked with scabs torn away from their wounds and corrupting festering from the very soul. There was the sudden feeling of sliding backwards down a buttered floor. There was the Maru, and the Darkness, and they were moving forward while he moved faster and faster backward, and then the noise picked up and deafened him, choked the air from his lungs before he could scream.


    And then he felt Nothing.




    And then he was Home.


    Ko-Wahi had always been an odd place for a person like Reordin to call Home, the Sanctum Guard had never been much of a Calling, Kopaka had never been a prime pick for an Idol. Where Ko-Koro was proper, Reordin was genuine, often unhealthily so; where it bred faithful soldiers he was a maverick, sometimes unstable in his methods but always rock hard in his principles; where it bred walking press corps officers, he was a loose cannon; where Ko-Koro was tidy and neat, Reordin was an attractive mess of rough edges and sandpaper-coarse opinions on how things could, should, and would be done. Oftentimes it would be a point of envy for the other guards, the way he staked out his own turf in the chain of command, but the Toa of Ice had always been secretly lonely with his individuality, having started the climb to the top with a select few and then turning around at the peak to see that no one else had toughed it out.


    But it was his Home nonetheless, and though he had never touched a crown in his life, never sat in a throne, Ko-Wahi had always been his Kingdom.


    “It could all be yours, you know,” a charming, honeyed voice cooed, its cadences echoing in the paper-thin air around Reordin and in the Protosteel walls of his soldier’s psyche. “If you want to just…take it.”


    The white gave way in that instant; all around him tint gave way to shade, and the diamond landscape gave way to a frightening and alluring wasteland of obsidian. The sun above him slowly blotted out. The moon, seizing its chance to shine, raced forward in a game of red rover with the stars, knocking the daylight off its heels in fast forward and sending night plummeting over the Toa of Ice and the voice that shared the scenery with him.


    “It could be,” he acknowledged. “If I was a fan of taking it from guys I don’t know.”


    Heuani chuckled at the clever remark and appeared at once before him. In the pitch black of Ko-Wahi's early night hours he could have chosen anywhere to appear, but the Toa of Shadow was standing just a foot away from Reordin max, golden eyes boring into the Toa of Ice's own blue ones. Mirrored in those eyes, Reordin saw himself; how could he not, with the spectre of his past, the danger of his present, and the smoky allure of his future promising to serve him from behind those aurum-tinted irises? Maybe Heuani saw a little of himself in Reordin, too, for he smiled as though he had just been offered a warm cup of coffee to ease the chill of the gnawing gust on his uncloaked, lithe frame.


    "There's something about the way you stand," the Toa of Shadow announced, severing the moment with a single movement of his sharp tongue.


    "Ironic, coming from the man who couldn't stand for anything a day in his life."


    "I'd rip out your tongue if it weren't for the fact that it's technically mine."


    "Thanks to you, I'm the one who needs it more."


    "I doubt that," Heuani replied coyly, winking as though they were both giving the same girl at the bar a cursory look.


    And that was that. The first bands of the storm had passed; the eye was once again hovering daintily over the two as they commenced their appraisals of each other. They were about the same height, though Reordin had perhaps a quarter of an inch on Heuani. He did notice similarities in the way they stood, the way one knee was slightly bent as though paused in mid-stride. Reordin's mouth had the same flick to it when it made a sudden expression that Heuani's did; they tested it once or twice, each mimicking the other's little quirks and tells, and it would have been comical if each similarity hadn't fastened another heavy boulder to the sinking ship that was Reordin's heart. One wrong movement, and this would be him. All it took was a flicker of unbidden emotion, a single snap of his fingers, and someone would find the ground beneath them turn to fatally cold water, or they'd find an ice axe in their cranium, or a bullet through the heart. One snap, and Heuani would be standing before him every time he looked in a mirror.


    "Kind of makes you want to buy a mirror, doesn't it?" his predecessor asked in a rhetorical, bored tone of voice, seeming to read his thoughts before they were conjured once again. "It's enticing, isn't it, Reordin? The power, the prestige, the looks? The way your name would just roll off the tongue doesn't give you just the smallest little titillated shiver? No? You'll forgive me if I don't, well, believe you."


    "Only if you'll forgive me when I kill you."


    Heuani's laugh was infectious, but no signal of mirth crossed Reordin's visage, and there was not even the faintest flicker of his typical boredly amused smirk. His face was as cold and inscrutable as the ice they stood on and around, and while that ice still had the faintest flickers of light and focused the pinpoint pricks of luminescence throughout the area, Reordin's face was as dark and cold as that of the sky itself, gradually fading into even deeper levels of unforgiving recess in tandem with the night hours as daylight became more and more of a distant memory and less and less of an inevitable certainty. Heuani's beautiful face blended perfectly with the night, but Reordin could see it clearly, just as the Toa of Shadow could see his doppelganger's face clearly without even needing the small light afforded him by the stars and the moon. There was more silence; both waited for the other to engage banter again. Then Heuani's hands reached out.


    "May I?"


    Before Reordin could say a word, Heuani had reached out and brushed the bottom of his mask, where his jawline was most accentuated.


    "Thank you," he said with faux graciousness; Heuani's face was a canvas, on which a smile so sweet it could draw flies if it wanted to was painted with purest enamel veneer.


    His body stiff with rage, hatred, and disgust, but unable to move nonetheless, Reordin stood like a statue - a Granite Guardian, he thought with a sudden burst of mental dark humor - as Heuani's hands traced along his handsome face and body, forming lines out of nothingness. Where he drew his lines, Reordin's physique filled in the blanks, slowly molding and piecing together a portrait of everything a Toa should be: proud, attractive, with a streak of wickedness that intertwined and blended with an air of nobility. When the bohemian at last stepped back to view his handiwork, the Toa of Ice felt an odd hold leave his body. Unlike Heuani's other victims, though, the release was welcome; he felt no panging of longing for the Toa of Shadow's soft grip to return to his biceps or his cheekbones. He felt only a bitter disgust that churned away at the very motor of his spirit, a righteous internal combustion that even now threatened to overtake him and end Heuani right now. The darkness' hold closed over Reordin's Kingdom before his very eyes as the night grew longer and the grin on Heuani's face grew wider; the Toa Maru's deputy felt only the need to wring Heuani's neck until the light poured back out from the gold pools of his eyes.


    Heuani drew back a step farther, so that the same twelve-inch gap that they had left unbridged the first time they locked eyes was once again in the crosshairs of both Toa.


    "I looked up to you."


    "Technically, you're looking at me."


    "Once upon a time, I didn't. I was about up to your chest level, then. I was a nice kid back then. I had a lot of dreams, a lot of hopes, a lot of delusions of grandeur. And I looked up to you."


    "And now here we are, a hundred years later, and all that's changed is you're not at chest level anymore. But what about those hopes, Reordin? What about those dreams, and those delusions, and that bright future you had? Where'd they go off to? Don't try and lie to me, either, because remember. We're at eye level now. And believe you, me, Reordin. I can see every single truth and ever falsity that you've ever bottled up in your body in those eyes. Despite what you may think, they're very...expressive."


    Reordin's fists clenched helplessly, and Heuani smiled easily and flawlessly; it was a cruel, ruthless smile, as sharp as the flamberge still at the Toa of Shadow's waist with the false warmth of a lightstone.


    "I'm sorry," he apologized. "I have a bad habit of staring."


    He was about a quarter of the way through his chuckle before Reordin drew his pistol and held it to the small notch between Heuani's eyes. The movement was too fast to respond to; even the Toa of Shadow was taken off guard by the unpredictability of the movement and the ferocity of the mover.


    "I can fix that."






    What was he supposed to expect?


    Would Heuani burst into shadow? Would he hit the ground with a thud? Would he be sucked into Reordin's heartlight with a final scream, pattering on about how this wouldn't be the last the Toa of Ice would see of him? How, the Toa of Ice pondered, did one go about shooting a ghost in the head?


    The simple, cruel answer, as it turned out? None of the above.


    "Peekaboo, prettyboy."


    The flamberge slid into Reordin's perfect abdomen, slicing through muscle and tissue as though the Toa of Ice were crafted out of simple butter; no blood rained from the wound until the sword slid out of his body, but when it rained, it poured. The unique craftsmanship of the blade had driven several cuts into vital parts of Reordin's internal system. The Toa Maru deputy dropped as the blood soaked through the snow, making it hot and sticky as he fell from his knees down to his side. His vision blurring, the night sky growing ever darker, Reordin closed his eyes for an instant, Heuani's departing form whistling a tune as he walked away.




    When he opened his eyes, the sky was gone. They were in Mangaia again, in the hall where the Toa Mata had fallen. This time, however, five shadowy versions of the Toa Mata stood on the left side of him, perfect in every way imaginable, his heroes, his fallen idols, the most heartbreaking obstacle they had yet to face. On the right, there were the five versions of the Toa Maru, his friends, his brothers, the girl of his dreams. None of them acknowledged him, but as he followed the long, smoky trail down the hall, snippets of memory and conversation echoed throughout the narrow cavern and bounced about, with no focal point to absorb into except his body and tortured mind.


    "Listen, Reordin," He made out, almost wincing with each sober rasp. His voice was without emotion inasmuch as a solemn sort of humility. "I don't know about this. I think that bird made a mistake."Let me explain," Sulov continued. "You're handsome, talented at war and stuff, and you...You know people. And that 'Wanderer' guy just has this thing about him," The exile explained in as articulate and serious a manner as his limited vocabulary allowed. "You guys are special. You're heroes or something. You're really great and you should be on a team with other great people."




    His wingman, since before he'd needed a wingman. His confidante, since before he'd had secrets that had needed keeping. The only other mountain in his life that could eclipse the importance that Mt. Ihu had for him. Sulov now stood shoulder to shoulder with Korero, neither of them doing anything but just...staring. Then Sulov's head turned. Moments later, Korero's did, too.


    The new Toa of Air cast about for something to talk about. Grasping the first thing that came to mind, he spoke.

    "So...Sanctum Guard? I thought I recognised you. You left to join Stannis? Or...did something..."

    Korero sought for a tactful word to carry the meaning it needed.


    Oh, Korero.

    Oreius' head turned, too; brave, noble Oreius, Oreius who like him had always placed a healthy amount of skepticism. Oreius, who had a closer insight to Makuta's mind than anyone else but fought it, used it as a tool to drive through the Master of Shadows' black "heart." Oreius, who Stannis had dreamed would turn against all of them on the eve of their final victory, when in fact Oreius had never been the problem at all...

    “No. You're better than that, Reordin,” he said softly, the pain in the Ko-Toa's eyes briefly mirrored in his own; for a moment, the Toa of Ice thought he saw the same struggle taking place deep within his brother.

    “You're better than him... better than some of us here. After all... we were the one who killed, not you.”

    The Toa of Fire looked away, unable to hold Reordin's gaze any longer.

    “I'm sorry. You're who you need to be, just like all of us are who we need to be.

    “And... and right now we need to be heroes...

    Stannis, now, turned to look at him with grey eyes that conveyed no emotion. This time, however (and this was a bit of a blessing) the prophet's words did not echo in the tunnel or in Reordin's head. Rather, it was his own voice - his voice as a Matoran, his real voice - that played on a loop in the slowly unraveling dreamcatcher that held his thoughts together at this point.


    "I'm not doing this because of some years-old prophecy, which says we're all meant to save this island or die trying. I'm not doing this because there's a little well of faith and love for the spiritual somewhere deep in the basin of my soul, and I'm not especially not doing this because I believe you are my god-sent Messiah, here to liberate me from a century of oppression from the same force that conceived this abomination we now stand in front of."

    Stannis opened his mouth to speak, now, but Reordin's intelligent blue eyes flicked upwards to his sharply, and the Wanderer's half-mounted defense stopped in its tracks.

    "But I will do this because you're my best friend," he continued, a grin across his face, "and I'm not gonna let you go down there and suckerpunch Makuta out of existence without me at your back."

    It was the last Toa, Leah, that he couldn't bear to hear; at the same time, it was Leah he needed most to hear. He pored through months of memory in the space between seconds, searching frantically for every conversation they'd ever had, every moment they've ever shared. No stone was left unsearched in the peaceful, perfect brook that was his perception of her.


    "Oh my...look what we have here..."


    Oh, come on. That's it? That's all he got? Minutes full of memory from Korero, who he'd only known for days, entire speeches from Oreius, conversations with Stannis...and all he heard from Leah was a single sentence she'd murmured to herself while he was out cold?


    "Love," Heuani's voice announced through the chamber, barely hiding a snicker, "is like that."


    Now the Toa of Shadow stepped forward, his cloak of shadows sliding from his perfect shoulders and the veil presented by the dim onyx color of the thick tunnel air sliding from his gorgeous face. His every pace timed like a dancer's, every breath calculated like that of a diver; every movement he made was wrong in its perfection, and perfect in its wrongness. He no longer appraised Reordin as an adversary, he viewed him as something far different, far more sinister in its many meanings and its fatal connotations: prey.


    This time the reflex came naturally. Reordin reached around to the back of his waistband and fired off a shot into Heuani's chest from about eight feet away. This time the Toa of Shadow did dissipate, a cloud of shadow to mingle with the other shadow, and Reordin stood stock still a moment before grinning and taking three quick paces forward, gun still out. Could it really be that simple? It couldn't be that simple, right? Things were never that simple.


    Then Heuani appeared again, and Reordin made a mental note to try and remain on the positive side for once.


    The Toa of Shadow's movements were robotic now, as he charged wordlessly forward, flamberge ready for a large arc that would decapitate the Toa of Ice the second the blade touched flesh. Reordin drew the gun and fired again; Heuani disappeared, only to return seconds later, only to dissipate again, and...


    It was a cycle.


    As another three versions of Heuani appeared, each in different stages of corruption - one bore a single heterochromatic deep blue eye, while another still had a white chest and heartlight and the third still wore an Akaku - Reordin holstered his gun and drew his ice axes. The grips contoured to his hands; the tools were meant for him, and he moved them like extensions of his own arm as he swung, chopping the Heuani's to shadowy dust with single, well-placed strikes. They didn't put up much of a fight beyond the same sweeping attack. Over and over again, Reordin dodged that same attack with greater and greater ease. He marveled at the speed and strength with which Heuani continued falling as he swung a single blow into the side of the Toa of Shadow's head, bringing him down into a plume of shadow that seemed to vanish away right before his eyes. Reordin looked down at his axe and examined the way the black leather grip blended with his obsidian-colored hand, the way that--


    Wait. What?


    "Oh, no."


    All at once, it made sense to Reordin, a cold, merciless sense that chilled even the Toa of Ice to his very bone. He looked down at his body and realized that the shadow had spread up his legs, arms, and extremities. Even now it was clawing its way towards his chest, pawing at his attractive body like Heuani had just minutes - it had been minutes, right? - before, searching for any trace of good in his system and purging it, replacing it with a perfect coal black. The Toa of Shadow, hardly daunted by Reordin's epiphany, charged forward, and something hot and hateful brewed in his chest.




    Two Shadow Toa fell at once as Reordin swung his own weapons in a side arc and buried them deep between ribs, tearing apart organs with nary a flick of his newly-superpowered wrist.




    One fell with just a snap of Reordin's wrist around the neck.




    A final Heuani stepped forward, his flamberge held in that same stupid arc. His golden eyes were weak, now; there was no sharp gleam nor insidious absorption of light. His grin wasn't that shiny anymore.


    "JUST ###### DIE!" he roared with the primal scream of a dozen wounded Kane-Ra, with the horrid sound of a village collapsing into the dirt and muck, with the terrible cries of Matoran as they were buried alive by a wave of shadow that they had never seen coming...


    And Heuani disappeared at once without being touched, turning to a solid mist and sliding backwards, up the stairs onto a podium of sorts, into the open, wide eyes of a new Toa of Shadow, standing at the top stair with a familiar, wistful smile on her face. Every inch of her was perfect, even more perfect than Heuani had been. She was smooth and flawless except for the sharp edges that seemed to outline her frame without ever getting in the way. Her armor was various shades of purest matte; her eyes glowed like newly cut topaz, her teeth like perfectly fashioned blocks of opal. Her smile was that of an alpha female, beautiful, terrible, and chillingly familiar.


    "What?" Leah asked. "Did you think one sentence was all you were getting out of me tonight?"




    He couldn't breathe.


    There was no way he could find the energy in his system to breathe, not when his system was corrupted and rotted to the point where when he looked down, all he could see was beauty. He didn't even have to reach up to know that his face had changed and featured itself to the epitome of beauty. He didn't need a manual on how to be a newbie mook to know that all he had to do was focus on the shadows in front of the Toa of Shadow on the stairs, and when he opened his eyes again he would be standing there. Most importantly, he didn't exactly need photographic evidence to tell that this was Leah, in all the ways that Leah herself could never be Leah. She was vivacious, but somehow stoically so; her face betrayed both military discipline and a gal next door vibe that was quite literally irresistible, and every inch of her body looked as though it had been sculpted from the finest black diamond the land would ever know.


    And she was his.


    "I could be. All yours, I mean," the Toa of Shadow confessed, taking his newly-minted face in her hands and caressing the newfound edges. "If only you take me."




    "Stop. No. No dreams. No hopes. No delusions of grandeur. Come on, Reordin. You're so close. We can both feel it. You've already saved me, just by being here. Do what you always do: go the extra mile. Worry about saving yourself for once. And then when you have, we can climb up to the peak of the mountain, together. And we will ]never have to see the ground again if we don't want to."


    He couldn't.




    Psh. Of course he could.




    But his destiny.




    There was no way he could.


    "Reordin. Please."


    His eyes found hers of their own accord, and he was lost in the deep, rooted look of desperation in her golden, beautiful eyes. They were expressive and sharp, belying a softness that even now cuddled close to the two of them and drew them together like a wool blanket. In her arms, Reordin found comfort in all the things he could not find peace in as a soldier; he did not have to hold his weapons up, engaged in a fight; destiny could be just as meaningless as he'd always assumed - always dreamed - it to be. That was her true beauty, even moreso than the physical perfection she had become a manifest of. In every way, in every shape, in every one of its confusing and tantalizing forms, she was perfection.


    And he could be, too.


    "Imagine," she whispered into his ear, holding him steady as the promises of glory and fame rocked him like a dinghy in the tide. "Can you hear it? The whistling of the wind in your ears as you stand on the peak? Come on, Reordin. Can't you imagine it? How does life sound like on the top of the mountain?"


    She leaned in and kissed him; just like the first time they had kissed, Reordin lost the sense of direction and became his own metaphysical concept, his own textbook equation on how to act when being spontaneously made out with. His hand found the back of her head as she stroked his Kanohi. He felt his heart flutter, then give out entirely - the final aspect of his transformation. Mutually, regrettably, they pulled away, and Reordin found her eyes.


    "It's a shame that you won't live to see me make it there," he whispered, his gun angling from waist level where it had been held up to her diaphragm. "Otherwise, I'd tell you."








    A shadow tentacle whipped outwards as Reordin opened his eyes, thrashing the Toa of Ice in the chest. Makuta's rage at the loss of his final, best hope for corruption of the team dynamic was palpable, and the tentacle grabbed hold of Reordin before he could regain full hold over himself and flung him down the hallway. A smirk was frozen - no pun intended, honest - solid on his mouth as he stared Makuta in the metaphorical face, a clear message visible even through the inky darkness of the tunnel: He wasn't scared of Nothing.


    The tentacle flung him; Reordin soared as high as any bird they had ever seen, face defiant as it stared down the darkness and made peace with itself. Makuta roared in anger, his composure slipping as he watched Reordin fly, furious with himself for miscalculating the dark, riveting mind of the Toa Maru of Ice. Leah screamed aloud; the other Toa Maru watched with various expressions of horror, shock, and fear as Reordin hid the ground with a dulled sounding thud and lay there, still as the grave. His eyes didn't open; the smirk didn't move.


    Now Makuta chuckled, and he did not bother to hide the sound of his own twisted mirth from the other Toa Maru as one tentacle reached out towards Reordin and prodded at him ruthlessly. The Toa of Ice did not stir; his expression was caught in a permanent facial middle finger to Makuta, and his body rolled over on its side. Makuta's laughter doubled at the lack of movement, and the tentacle slithered back, caressing Leah's leg as it did so. Tears rolled down the face of the Toa of Water without heed; Stannis' jaw was clenched. Oreius and Sulov bowed their heads in respect from one soldier to another, faces twisting in a righteous fury. Korero had not caught the full ramifications of what happened; he was still bouncing, cheering under his breath for Reordin to get up.


    The Toa of Ice didn't oblige.


    Makuta's laughter now bounced through the empty minds and the bleeding hearts of each remaining Toa Maru; his wrath was diluted now by his total, perverse glee. The tentacles sparked out anew, ready to constrict each Chosen One in their reinvigorated grips--


    And then the ground around Reordin began to chill and frost, spreading outwards with spiderweb's cracks until it had reached the Toa's feet. Makuta's onslaught stopped; there was a momentary lull in the darkness, almost the eldritch version of a "Huh?" The default reaction of the master of shadows quickly turned to sheer hatred and fury again as Reordin reached forward and pushed himself up into a sitting position, before using his legs to vault back up and dust himself off.


    YOU WERE -NOT- SUPPOSED TO CHOOSE THIS! the Makuta roared, letting all his fury focus on the deputy of the Toa Maru, the Toa who he had the highest hopes for when it came to servitude. YOU WERE SUPPOSED TO BEND TO MY WILL -AGAIN!-


    "Yeah, well. Sequels," Reordin shrugged. "They just never do it for you quite like the original."


    And a volley of ice, a volley that had been so long contained and bottled up since before the battle started, unleashed itself, meeting Makuta head on.



  • Edited on 2013-04-21 01:01:42 by Dallas Winston
  • Tags:
  • Posted 2013-04-21 13:39:49 UTC
    BZPRPG: Kini-Nui
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  • "Why do you hunger for length of days? The point of life is to follow reason[...]and to accept whatever nature sends you. To live in this way is not to fear death, but to hold it in contempt. Death is only a thing of terror for those unable to live in the present. Pass on your way, then, with a smiling face, under the smile of him who bids you go.--Marcus Aurelius, Meditations IC: The first thing He perceives is the smell. A pungent vapor wafts into his nostrils. He sniffs it, examining its components and listing them: the acrid reek of smoke and the bitter tang of blood. Taste joins smell shortly in confirming the presence of blood. The next thing He senses is touch, the feel of His kneel on Earth. And with feeling comes pain. His body is in agony from a dozen impaled objects impaled within it. He picks these out as well. His shovel has inverted, doubling back into His upper arm, and He feels the exact points of His ceramic blades inside His sinew. He can feel His muscles are torn past the point that movement is viable. He can sense that He is caught. This perception is followed by the return of sound. He hears a cruel cacophony and picks it apart. Fire crackles as the tormented screams of death throes echo in His ears. Finally, He sees. His eyes open to gaze upon the valley of death. It is exactly as Sulov Koskium's memories show. Clouds shadow the land. Aurax, Kol, and Komisk all lie mutilated on the sides of His path. The faceless masses of the slain recede into the distance, marked only by the occasional blaze. This is the field of His horrendous sacrifice. And as it was last, He perceives a field of His great winning. Beyond the field, less than a meter from the path, sits the congregation of dream. 7th Squadron and the Maru smile side by side. All the Mata, excepting Gali, stand repentant. All are at peace. No more sacrifice. No more equivalent exchange. The Dream promises success within centimeters. Lose fighting, win surrendering. Perhaps, He replies. ? Perhaps losses are inevitable in combat. Perhaps a dream could be accomplished in surrender. Perhaps He simply chooses suffering one way and lives without it in the other. Yet suffering is real. A choice is real. ????? And a dream is imaginary. It does not exist. He stands up. His body is made out of steel that rejects the blades and their influence; they fall into His hands. This path is not His path and he rejects it as well. It requires pruning. ?????????? He flings the weapons forwards. The Mata are annihilated. The Maru are rent asunder. The squadron is suffocated. You reject your dream?! For what? It is not His dream. WHAT? That is what I found- His mind is a luminate mountain shot through by steel, and He is its inexpugnable veracity. He is Prosperous. The man of this dream was flawed. He had the biases of identity, a name, a dream, and emotions. He was messy. He simply Is. He cleaned up the mess and locked it away, beneath the mountain. So He has no impairments on His path and no dreams. He walks along the pruned path through the one He has slain. ... We will, then, simply see how you enjoy nonexistence. And as He Is, Void challenges His being. He must destroy it. He discards the lie and returns to the world of truth in order to follow that directive. He parries and blocks the tentacles each time they surge forward. His clawed hand is His shield, absorbing the damage of each lash too fast for Him to repel. His shovel swipes away the shadow appendages which He can knock back. Slowly, His body is breaking down. Each received lashing strips him of a plate of armor. Tentacles burst through and tear it from His skin, flaying His flesh. He was previously broken. Now He is shredded. With each movement, another tear appears in His skin and another trickle of blood stains His body. It does not matter. His body is simply a vessel that is steadily cracking as it overflows. His worldly manifestation is battered and nearing death, but His soul is rejoicing, exalted and completed in His weakness. He is perfect in life and death. So His ruined garb is celestial and His imperfect stance divine. His terrible wounds are sacred and His failing defense is almighty. His blows fall with the weight of mountains and His enemy's strikes land with the import of an insect's wings. And, eventually, even should He fall apart, He will grind His foe into dust. Because He accepts existence, He is a god. And a god can kill His shadow.

  • Edited on 2013-04-25 02:59:37 by Mr. Peanuts
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  • Posted 2013-04-21 14:34:11 UTC
    BZPRPG: Kini-Nui
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  • IC (Korero) Around the Toa of Air writhed the tentacles of night, once again weaving together into an impenetrable dome, shielding Korero from the sight of his fellows. He could not see them. The images that filled his mind did not come from the eyes.


    Golden sunlight sifted through still, clear air, highlighting motes of dust as they floated on their dreamy paths. Towering windows admitted the rays, stretching up to a great vaulted roof. Rows of bookshelves were all around, leather-bound spines sat in innumerable rows, their gilded lettering glinting silently from the monolithic shelves of rich, dark wood. Levels of mezzanines stretched overhead head, each carrying thousands upon thousands of books in its own shelves, the clear blue sky visible above through huge windows in the ceiling, each ribbed with sills that bound the individual panes into a geometric whole. It was an immense library, a cathedral of knowledge, and at its centre, on a raised dais, stood Korero. He felt an odd sensation of duality; on the one hand he saw through his own eyes, felt his own body, and was the being on the dais; but he also seemed to see himself in the third person, as though he was a disembodied spirit watching from nearby. And as he looked at himself, he realised that he was different. He was tall, regal in his stance, wearing flowing scholarly robes, trimmed with gold. A book was held in his hand as he loftily leafed through it; his expression inscrutable, superior. There was a clank and a creak as the great wooden double-doors at the end of the hall opened, and six Matoran entered. The Toa on the dais did not look up as they approached. The part of Korero that watched, disembodied, recognised the Matoran as they came near; the leaders of the six villages, Jaller at their head. They stopped at the foot of the dais, and all six bowed low, sinking to their knees before the robed Toa. "Toa Korero," said Jaller, his voice full of deference and reverence. "We humbly seek your counsel. There is none that - " Korero silenced Jaller with a raising of his hand, before closing the book and finally moving his gaze to the Matoran leaders. "Knowledge is power," he intoned. "And I know everything. What do you trouble me for, Matoran?" And the watching part of Korero suddenly felt it. The knowledge. Everything. Every fact, every tale, every secret. He saw all of history, all that was and all that is. The intricacies of nature, the hidden thoughts and desires of every living being. He knew everything. Omniscience... And all this can be yours, Korero, came the voice in his head, seeping like black honey into his mind. Suddenly the leaders were gone, and he was alone once more. Raising his head, he activated the Hiko and Jumped. The watching part of him found himself at the top of a great tower, a huge city stretching out below him. And he was at the centre, the architect of this civilisation. His knowledge, his wisdom, were paramount; with him as their leader, the Matoran had moved into a golden age of prosperity. And he pondered, as only he could. For with the knowledge of everything there came the power to use it; the secrets, sought for generations by scientists and scholars, schemers and shades, were at his command. He could root out evil forever. He could bring peace to all. He, and only he, could at last awaken Mata Nui - And yet, he realised, Mata Nui need not be awakened. Mata Nui was not omniscient, nor was he omnipotent; for how, if he were, did his brother succeed in betraying him? The more he considered, the more sure he became; Mata Nui need not - nay, should not be awakened. The Great Spirit could not guide the people perfectly if his knowledge was imperfect. But Korero could. He knew everything; and with that knowledge there came the authority to know what was best for the people of Mata Nui. He understood it now. Under his wise hand, Mata Nui grew yet further. Korero knew all; he could tell which beings were evil or dangerous, who to trust and who to remove. Evil and criminality were stamped out wherever he saw them. And yet, it always somehow sprung back again; and this problem bothered him. How, when he knew everything, was he unable to destroy this stain on the perfect world he was creating? And at last, he made another realisation. People were imperfect. Matoran, Toa, Turaga, Skakdi, Vortixx...all beings were flawed in their judgement; none could reason so perfectly as he. The problem was their free will. And after all, did not Korero know best? Yes, he knew what was best for them better than they did. They would all be so much happier, blissful even, if they were relieved of the burden of free will. So he used his knowledge of the ancient secrets to remove it. Freed of their free will, perfectly obedient, they lived their lives as directed by him. They toiled together, working towards the designs that only Korero could devise. Unquestioningly they worked, building great wonders and monuments and statues, and as they did his power grew, tapping into arcane energies known to none before. Through his shackleless knowledge he became their god, and his library became a temple. Seated on a great throne of steel at the heart of his shining empire, he surveyed it, and thought it good.


    But suddenly there was a voice from in front of him. "Is this what you wanted?" asked Turaga Nuju. "It is what is best," Korero replied. "You know everything, but you have learned nothing." Suddenly it was not Nuju that stood before him, but Vakama. "The Matoran are happy!" "Are they?" asked Stannis, replacing the Turaga. "What is happiness without the freedom to choose your own path?" The seeds of doubt were growing in Korero's mind. "But..." he said, his all-knowing confidence faltering, "I have built all this..." "Look at what you have built," said a small, quiet voice. A Ko-Matoran now stood where Stannis had been - a curious, innocent Matoran who, with a tug at his heart, Korero realised still lived inside him. Raising one white arm, his Matoran self pointed out of the great window. Korero's gaze followed, to where the Matoran were building a gigantic statue in his honour. But as Korero stared at the statue, a horror overcame him. For it was not his own image that he saw, carved in titanic scale: it was Makuta's. With a horrific grating, the statue's monolithic head turned to looks straight at him, red eyes blazing in triumph. YOU ARE MINE, KORERO. The voice was like thunder from Karzahni. Korero looked back to his apparition in terror, a shivering insect before the true god of this civilisation. But once more, it was not his past self that stood before him, but Merror, the Toa of Fire from so long ago. Wordlessly, the Toa held out a flaming torch. And Korero knew what he had to do. Taking the torch, he looked over his great library, his rows upon rows of books and understood what they symbolised. They were the knowledge he was granted, his priceless reward. And raising the torch, he threw it with all his might into the bookshelves. Instantly, the flames caught, roaring into destructive life. The fire spread, rushing along the shelf before leaping to the next, the flames rising higher and higher and growing brighter and brighter, the millions of dry paper sheets igniting and blazing bright as they were consumed. And as they burned, Korero felt the knowledge in his mind catch alight as well, the purging flames scouring it away. As beams crashed down around him, flames billowed and cinders flew, Korero heard Makuta's thunderous voice scream in rage as his victory was denied. Korero felt the heat sear against his skin, saw the incandescent walls rise up - He closed his eyes as flames engulfed him.


    The dark fog lifted from Korero's mind, the vision melting away to reveal the mass of shadows around him. Korero breathed a sigh of relief as he felt his own body again, the harsh coldness of the stone floor against his slumped body comforting him with its reality. His golden eyes raised once more to meet Makuta's eyeless glare with defiance. "You are a fool," said the darkness, and the anger was clear in Makuta's voice. That gave Korero strength - he had fought Makuta inside his own mind, and won. "You would give up the knowledge of all things?" "That's where you don't understand. You'll never understand. It's not the knowing that's important," he said. "It's the learning. What good is knowledge when there's nothing left to learn?" The shadows seemed to snarl in anger, and contracted inwards, but a blast of air forced them back and away from the Toa. He rose to his feet, feeling the weight of his shield on his arm, the symbol of Faith shining as it reflected the light of Oreius' flames. He raised it in front of him, ready for Makuta's next attack - but it didn't come; in fact, everything seemed still. He looked up and saw Reordin, as though in slow-motion, tumble through the air. Before Korero could even think to use his mask, Reordin collided with the stone floor. The other five Maru stared in shock. "Come on..." Korero muttered. "Get up...come on..." Ice began to spread out from the prone Toa, and Korero laughed in relief. As Reordin brought his powers of ice to bear on the writhing shadows, Korero leapt into the air, fierce triumphant joy fuelling his movements, flashed white, and was gone. Reappearing by his teammates, he readied himself for the battle. After all, half of it was already won.

  • Edited on 2013-04-21 14:35:47 by Ghosthands
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  • Posted 2013-04-25 06:41:28 UTC
    BZPRPG: Kini-Nui
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  • Ic: The Granite Guardian held his halberd up against the lashing of the shadow vines and remained steadfast in his defense. The time to plan and make declarations was over now, this was the final test against the powers of darkness. This was Stannis' destiny. He had no time to consider anything but the final goal that he lived for. His weapon moved with a ferocity never before displayed in the hands of Stannis as the prophet lost himself in the moment. The motto that guided his life in the previous decades burned in his soul even more now. Feel, don't think.


    At the sight of Stannis' movement there seemed to be little in common between the Toa Maru and his spiritual predecessor, Pohatu. He was quick in his motions, reacting as quickly as the threats tried to ensnare him, and he danced with the tendrils as if they were mirror opposites, each no faster than the other. While not fast, Stannis kept his ground. Years and years of training and practice were drilled in his mind and body, the motions were second nature to him, now only enhanced by the raw power of his toa body to give him the dexterity and energy needed.


    But the physical vigour Stannis exhibited was only half of the battle. Deeper, below the superficial, was another fight.




    I can listen to your heart, Stannis, the Darkness said. I can fulfill your dreams.


    "You know nothing of me," Stannis hissed in return.


    But I do! I know what you have perused all these years.


    Stannis remained quiet in the pause the Darkness gave him. There was nothing to say, but he tried to overcome the presence, to snuff it out before it could enter further in his mind with blankness and he thought of nothing but space to give the Darkness nothing to hold. His psyche trust up with every ounce of his willpower to overwhelm the intrusion, mirrored in reality with a potent surge of his halberd's blade that skewered a snake of ink, but his inner battle met no such proverbial success.


    You think you can oust me with void? the Darkness chided, sounding amused. Did you not understand me before? I am Nothing!


    Stannis uttered a proverb in return, a reminder to himself. "From nothing you came and to nothing you shall return."


    You're stronger than that, Stannis, the Darkness forcefully reprimanded, unhindered despite Stannis' mental power. You know better, too. Stop reciting the chords of my brother. You were... 'chosen'... because of your strength, but you are inhibited. You are not strong enough.


    "I am strong enough!" Stannis almost shouted defiantly. "I have to be!"


    Obviously you are mistaken. I am still here. The Darkness allowed that to sink in as Stannis realized that the Makuta was not inhabiting his mind after all. Yes, you know it now.


    "Impossible," Stannis breathed. "You're... in my..."


    I told you to listen to your -heart-, Stannis, the Darkness said, sounding almost disappointed with the prophet's slowness. You ate not strong enough because you are weak of heart. You're a smart man; it's one of your greatest qualities. Now I need you to feel the truth in my words.


    It was Stannis' worst fear: Being too weak to accomplish the destiny he was set to realize. Not only had the Darkness infiltrated his body, it was patiently proving its point to him with the nonchalance of a friend discussing the weather over lunch. Stannis was able to stave off the Makuta's physical attack with sufficient grace but the mental battle was lost before it could begin. Stannis had overestimated his own potential... and so had Mata Nui.


    But that can be fixed. You know what I did to Heuani.


    "You placed him in bondage," Stannis seethed at the Darkness. "You reduced Toa Kopaka to little more than a slave on a long chain, always loose but never outside of your whip's reach. I will have none of your fetters!"


    Fetters? the Darkness chuckled. What I have Heuani was but a taste. Kopaka was a test, a statistic. He was one of six equals sent by my brother to stop me. But you? You're not an equal to your fellows, are you, Stannis? No, you're the special one. After all, who did he gift with the ability to See?


    Stannis knew that much was true. "None but me," he replied. "Reordin is too blinded by his stubbornness. Leah is too dogmatic. Even Oreius is too compromising to See the truth."


    Mata Nui knew you were special but he could not give you your full potential. But I can help you. Join me and I can give you everything.




    The tendrils suddenly subsided from his midst as swiftly as they came and left Stannis slashing at the air in vain. The visage of his comrades fighting their own battles, however, was quickly replaced by a new vision...


    Matoran milled around a great city. Alabaster colonnades and great arches abounded over a serene depiction of urban sprawl. The region was familiar, however, despite the foreign architecture. "I know this place..." Stannis breathed. "That mountain... The Massif!" he said in recognition as he stepped forward into the painting and walked down the marble thoroughfares of the city.


    Citizens around him bowed with reverence as they passed. "Lord-protector," they whispered respectfully and gave him a margin to pass in. Stannis felt familiarity cut into his mind yet again, and he felt a great sense of importance with each scholarly obeisance the Matoran gave him. This was no ordinary universe, he knew, this was a world in which he, Stannis Maru, became more than a prophet, more than a hero. He was distinctly aware that he wore robes over his armor and looked down to inspect the cloth. It was whiter than fresh snow and softer than a pearl and draped about him with stately grace. In this world Stannis was a priest.


    In this world Stannis had accomplished his mission and had saved the island itself.


    "Look around you," a Matoran in the crowd said to Stannis. It was Takua again. "Everything you see is yours. You made it so. This is your true destiny, Stannis, but you cannot do it as you are. It takes something greater than what Mata Nui gave you to do this. This... all this is my gift to you. All you have to do is place your faith in me. Listen to your heart..."


    "You promise me peace and power," Stannis mused. "You wish to make my weaknesses strengths and grant me the power to fulfill destiny. But for every gift given is a debt that must be paid, and the gift you offer cannot be repaid by what I have."


    "That's because you don't have it yet. You can't have it until you are given the gift," Takua said. "All I desire from you is your bent knee."


    Stannis ambled down the paved roads with the solemnity required in the vision and pondered Takua's words, not thinking them over but sensing them with psychological hands as if they were stones. "The final affront to the Great Spirit," he concluded, having found the vein of corrosive ore in the rock, "the surrender of Mata Nui's last greatest hope."


    "You truly are remarkable," Takua reflected. "A great hero and an even greater trophy. Imagine what you can do with my power imbued in you, too. No power in the 'Verse would suffice to stop you."


    "Even you?" Stannis asked, sensing the discrepancy in the promise.


    "With you in command there would be no reason for me to remain," Takua explained. "I would leave Mata Nui and allow you to tend to your own rule. Your destiny would be fulfilled and you would be free of all chains of bondage."


    "I don't trust you."


    "Rightfully so!" Takua exclaimed with a little laugh. "Never trust a beguiler. But right now I'm all you can trust. After all, I'm trusting you. What I want to give you requires sacrifice, even from me."


    "Wait a moment," Stannis said, his tone powerful and stern as he put his foot down. Instantly, everything in the vision stopped, frozen in time. "I know what you are doing. You're toying with me." The vision started to tear at the seams as Stannis' vision cleared. Distant horizons began to blur and rip and the buildings, once spotless, were beginning to crumble.


    "I am," Takua admitted with a shrug. "It's what I do."


    "You're trying to make me dance with the devil, make me sacrifice everything I am meant to be by making me believe I am supposed to be someone else. You take my greatness and enhance it, claiming that is who I was destined to be."


    Takua nodded. The scenery was starting to break apart into itself. The Matoran, still as statues, began to bleed, blood gushing from their craniums and flowing through their armor and masks as from fountains as their bodies began to break under the stress of the collapsing dream. Nothing was peaceful as it violently shattered, a paradise turned into a nightmare as its reality folded to oblivion until nothing but Takua and Stannis remained standing. The little Matoran looked up at Stannis' grey eyes with offensive energy. "And that, Stannis, is what will happen to your reality if you refuse my offer. Everything you fought for sucked into the Void from whence it all came. And all because you were not strong enough to protect it."



    Violent reality returned to Stannis as he stood in the vast dark chamber with his brothers and sister in Mata Nui but Stannis remained undisturbed by the tendrils of Shadow. Take your bow, Stannis, the Darkness urged him. Listen to your heart as it beats too softly, take heed to its murmur and follow your dreams. Bow to me, because I have offered to you everything Destiny withheld from you and more. Just strike down a brother and all will be given as promised. You have nothing to lose... and everything to gain.


    "I appreciate the offer, Makuta," Stannis said as his mind surged through his eye sockets like lightning from a distant star. "But I cannot accept it."


    What? Why!? the Darkness barked, angry.


    "Because Mata Nui have me eyes to See and a mind to Sense. As I look around here in this chamber I know that I do not have to be strong enough to defeat you because..." He reached up and felt the bone amulet tied round his neck and recalled what it meant.


    * * *


    Toa Antrim, his lord, protector and teacher, stood before him and offered him wisdom. "To be a leader you must know who you serve and do what is needed. Use your heart, Stannis. You have gotten this far already. You were not wrong, you only did not solve all the puzzle. What is your prize?"


    "To bring unity to my team," Stannis said, tears still streaming down his mask.


    "Then keep your eyes on it. What is your mission?"


    "To defeat the Makuta with the team."


    "Then manage for it," Antrim said. "You already walk like you talk. Now do the rest and success will be yours."


    * * *


    "I listened to my heart, Makuta, and it tells me that you are a false god. I looked into my soul and it tells me I am sufficient. I looked at my mind... and it tells me that I am not alone. To my left is Lady Destiny, fair and kind, pretty as the Silver Sea in a starry night, and to my right is Soldier Duty, ever vigilant against the darts of darkness. And then there is me, the prophet standing between the two, the man who binds them. I don't need your power to be victorious because I am Unity and my brothers' might is mine. Through Unity you will be felled!"


    The Darkness was not amused anymore. Gone was the tinge of trust and kindness that inhabited the dreamscape and its ferocity resumed. You would be so daft as to reject the power over your own Destiny?


    Stannis' mouth curled into a little smile as he gripped his halberd high and prepared for the final wave of dark power. "Yes," he said with steely resolve. "Because I have Faith in the prophesy."

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  • Posted 2013-04-25 08:30:41 UTC
    BZPRPG: Kini-Nui
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  • IC:


    There was a momentary pause in the onslaught, as the Makuta's traps failed, one after the other. Leah used the moment and turned from her continued defense against the dark tendrils to see how the others were fairing...only to see Reordin fall. Immediately, the Toa of water sprinted forward, seeing the Toa of ice tumble through the air, but stopped again as he hit the ground and lay still. But she refused to believe her eyes.


    Come on, Lt. You're stronger than this... she thought, as dark laughter echoed through the chamber at the apparent defeat of the Maru of ice. Angry determination was surging through her like waves churned up in a storm, intense enough to make her eyes tear up involuntarily. "Get up!" she urged him again, under her breath. The shadows moved once more, trying to seize the opportunity and finish the job, Leah was sure. But not on her watch. She moved in closer, her hands tingled with energy as she brought them up defend her brethren and the one she loved.


    But then she shadows halted and she was relieved to hear the familiar crackling of forming ice nearby and a cheer from Korero. With a smile she saw Reordin was back on his feet, joining the fight once more and bringing the full force of his element with him as they held Makuta's shadows at bay. But for a fraction of a second, the Toa of ice and water looked at each other and that one look perfectly summed up what they felt for each other. A subtle nod, a hint of a smile from Reordin and a wink from Leah - and then they were both back in the moment, all of their attention focused on the fight. Together they moved forward, forming a line with the others.


    Her eyes turned to Sulov. The Toa of earth was as resilient and tough as his element itself, but the fight against the Toa of shadow had taken a toll on him. He was still the team's mountain, the living tank that stepped into the way of whatever was coming for them, but every time the shadows found and opening he took another hit. And over time, even a mountain would erode. But not this one, she decided and brought up her staff, riptide waters tearing into the dark tendrils before they could land another hit. He was clear for the moment and Leah shot him an encouraging look. None of them stood alone here.

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  • Posted 2013-05-02 02:15:30 UTC
    BZPRPG: Kini-Nui
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  • IC: Wokodin – Kini Nui Temple


    I took in the sight before me, as I stood upon a rough cliff. Below me was a reddened field, but not with blood; the grass was of a lighter hue.


    I was weary. My first attempt to do some good for the island was a failure, for now Ronkshou and that Vortixx were nowhere to be found.


    However, I did not concern myself with what didn’t happen. Self-pity brought me nowhere. If they were still out there, then I would find them, and not just them – I would find all of Mata Nui’s most wanted, bring them to justice, and bring honor to my village of stone.


    So I placed my sword of the ground, and rested. Enjoying the view of the valley, the temple and the grassland before me.


    * * *


    Soon, the time came for me to walk once again. I decided it was time to return north. Though I would arrive in Po-Koro empty-handed, I knew that I would be able to find a new way to bring honor to my village.


    After all, I was the greatest. No one has yet been able to match my number of journeys or my experiences.


    OOC: Moving to Po-Wahi…

  • Edited on 2013-05-02 02:25:49 by Emzee
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  • Posted 2013-05-06 00:53:29 UTC
    BZPRPG: Kini-Nui
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  • ICThe Darkness raged forth and sent forth power anew in the form of snakes of shadow that frothed like waves on an incessantly stormy sea. They were too great for even Stannis to manage and overwhelmed his defences with ease. The great flow of darkness threw the prophet backwards like a kite in heavy wind and smashed him against the wall before the darkness faded around him as if to allow a spectator to look at the pitiful man who stood at a crossroads between death and life.Stannis languished on the floor; his halberd clattered beside him, so close but painfully out of reach as he strained to pick it up.The Darkness guffawed at the hero.Stannis was not amused. His fingers tightened around the shaft of his weapon as he felt his strength return and he seized the weapon up with renewed vigour. "THROUGH UNITY YOU WILL BE FELLED!" he shouted vehemently as he got up and channelled the power of Stone through his tool. Chain links of rock churned out at the distant eyes of the monster and he hoped that his action would serve as the example for his fellows to follow suit.His commander orders a conversion from offence to defence. He thus absorbs His armour of Earth. It is no longer applicable to the circumstances.But His enemy besets him again, sensing weakness as His flesh and metal is laid bare. His ally repels the assault once. Then twice. Then thrice. He calculates that within the next three strikes, their defence should fall. So they must leave defence as directed.He looks at His ally and thrusts at the enemy with His shovel. She is not to protect him any longer. Her stalwart defence drops in a microsecond. Tendrils of darkness rush into the breach, buffeting at His body. The situation is as it was at the beginning of combat, Him slowly shutting down and His enemy immortally assaulting. Yet He has earned something He did not have previously, grinding it out of His and His allies' blood and armour: the refilling of his reserves to three-fourths Earth. And He, divinely efficient, can use it.He reaches into mountain of light and steel in His soul, touching the veins of metal in His mind. Then He pulls. One dozen ceramic stakes flash from the hill to spread in the air behind His body at the mere scoop of His spade. They arrange so that each is perfectly spaced from each other and set at an angle exactly perpendicular to the tentacled monstrosity. All are flawless and sharper than steel. He is a deity ascendant and each of their perfect points is a feather bedecking His wings.And they fly against the dark god with all the righteous might of His light reflection.Stannis' shout almost went under in the rush of water, the rush of darkness and the rumbling of earth and stone, though no further motivation was needed to drive the Maru into action, their determination unwavering at this point.A look from Sulov was enough. A single nod from Leah signalled that she understood, and then the barrier of water collapsed, the titan of earth springing back into action, shrugging off the hits he took in the process while unleashing his element with renewed fury. She followed suit, redirecting her element as well, pushing back against the swirling shadows.Several of the tendrils still made it past their elements and despite ducking out of the way, the shadows lashed out at her, leaving cuts across her back. Leah whinced as the pain shot through her. She could feel something warm running down her back, knew the shadows had cut through her armor and injured the flesh beneath, but she forced herself to maintain her focus.No more mind-games, no more schemes... Leah thought to herself, as she tapped into her elemental reserves once more, feeling it surge through her. Normally it was a calm, reassuring feeling, immense strength that lay dormant...but not now. The sea could bear life, but it could also take it away. And when it did, it was merciless, like a current dragging its victims down into the depths.Leah redirected the flow of the water in mid-air The streams began twisting around themselves rapidly, turning into spouts that tore into the shadows like snakes. They turned left and right, tearing through the dark tendrils, disrupting their flow, both attacking the Makuta and drawing some of his power away from the others, giving them more room to manoeuvre. And she was counting on the others to use it, especially her brothers of air and ice. If they combined their powers, they could unleash a storm that the Makuta wouldn't forget anytime soon.Oreius burned in the dim light like a comet come to earth, cutting down every shadowy tendril that dared approach, but he knew he couldn't last forever. Eventually, his strength would fail, and the Makuta would consume him.So, at Stannis' shout, the Toa of Fire instantly understood, and turned towards the monstrous entity that hovered in the darkness. His focus had previously been on the serpents of darkness; they lashed at him now, but he forced himself to pay no heed. It was not about him. It was about them: the Toa Maru. Only united would they stand.Raising his swords on high, Oreius once again tapped into the current of burning energy that ran beneath his skin, flowing through his veins. The fire that blazed within his chest was hotter than the lava that cradled Ta-Koro, and letting it loose was almost frightening to contemplate: what would happen if he unleashed all of Tahu's righteous anger?He didn't pause to think about it; the time for contemplation was past. It was time to feel and act, not deliberate, just as Tahu would have done.Pointing his twin blades at the swirling mass of shadows, the Toa of Fire opened the floodgates, and let the fire in his chest blaze through his body, rushing through every artery as the white-hot energy sped through his arms and and hands and fingertips and unleashed a torrent of flames through the conduits that were his Toa tools.He was on fire. He -was- fire. His every cell blazed with light and heat.The cyclone of flames burned bright in the darkness, casting away the shadows, and arced towards the eldritch monstrosity: fire joined its brothers and sister against the Makuta.Korero leapt and sprang through the air, flashes of white tracing his erratic movements as he combined acrobatics with his mask power to evade Makuta’s tentacles. The feeling and sound of his element rushing past him was exhilarating.Above the wind in his ears and the thunder of Makuta’s rage, there came Stannis’ shout. Chains of stone, blades of earth, columns of water and tongues of fire all converged on the Darkness’ swirling centre.In a final flash, Korero dropped out of thin air and landed in a crouch amidst his teammates. For a moment, he was the calm before the storm. He set his eyes on the target, focused, and raised both hands.With the roar of a hurricane, a vortex of raging winds ripped forth from his outstretched palms. Out of the Toa of Air poured the full strength of Air; vicious in its speed, relentless in its force. The sheer howling noise of the billowing tornado echoed through the vast chamber as Korero’s unleashed Air powers joined those of the other Maru, five streams of elemental force converging on Makuta’s heart.Korero could not spare the concentration to look round, but his thoughts were on the one remaining element to join its brothers: Ice. Reordin had not yet acted. The Toa of Air thought back to his studies in Ta-Koro, examining the patterns of the past, seeing how history repeated itself.He prayed it would not do so now."If you guys keep looking at me like I'm gonna stab you all in the back like that, my feelings are gonna get hurt."There was a small gush of cold that mingled playfully with the wind Korero summoned; a small vortex formed itself together and through it came a slow parade first of snowflakes, then hail, and then finally a bombastic mix of crystalline ice structures and swirling blizzards and bone-shattering cold air. Reordin's assault, fresh and full of energy due to his lack of any real fighting thus far, was just the push that the team needed.Now all six elements had melded together to beat back the shadow, slowly and relentlessly pushing it back. Reordin stood beside Stannis, faith and logic standing at attention inches away from each other to vanquish Nothing. There was a poetry to it, he had to admit begrudgingly. Not much of it, of course.But it was there. And it wouldn't be ignored anymore.The Toa Maru made a hexagon underneath the spiralling blackness, and as each one of them sent a pillar of sheer elemental power pounding up into the red-lit dark, the corded shades that had been whipping their bodies ferociously retreated foot by foot until there were none left to strike them. The black essence eating the air over the Maru crackled where it was struck by the Toa’s primal energies, and seemed to be driven back, upwards, towards the vaulted ceiling, compressed as though in severe discomfort by the streaming of earth, air, fire, stone, water, and ice. The Maru were united as the First Toa had not been, and their attack seemed to be effective where that of their predecessors had not been.That was, until the darkness began to ram back. Like a wicked cocoon opening, pushing agonizingly back against the air, the swirling, nauseating coils resurged slowly, no longer shrinking from the Maru’s attacks, but instead appearing to embrace them. The voice of avalanching boulders rang through the room again, a certain note of strain in it and its words halting as though laboured, but its tone triumphant nevertheless.“Did… you… expect… me… to fall… so easily?” the darkness groaned happily. “I learned from… the First Toa… I… strengthened myself… against their… strategies. How foolish you are… to have believed I would… show you how to… defeat me.”The first tentacle emerged again, took a lethargic swipe at the Maru; they easily dodged the offence, and their elemental streams were strong as ever. The second lash, though, was nearly twice as fast; it was clear that their foe was recovering, slowly but surely. “I have… not been… idle… these countless rises of the sun,” the deep voice spat through Takua’s rotted mask. “For your existence… was… foretold, and I do what I can… to nullify prophecy.”“Strike harder!” Stannis roared to his teammates. “Strike stronger!”The Maru renewed the vigor of their elemental assaults, and the darkness over them hissed, recoiled again under the six-pronged assault. It surged back with a frustrated speed founded in anger and pain. “This… will not stop me,” it wheezed, exerted. “Soon enough you will… tire, and… I will be prepared. I am the stronger… you can swing a sword in the dark… but it will cut nothing, slip effortlessly… and painlessly… through the void. These are merely… swords.” A ferocious black whip knocked Leah’s legs out from under her; she stumbled, but quickly rolled back to stability and kept up her water attack.“Time is running out,” the darkness crowed. “And not just… for you… for everyone.”The Maru were suddenly presented with a vision; it was far too real, realer even than those that had been presented to them minutes earlier by the tantalizing voices, for them to question. Each knew that what was being shown to him or her was unfiltered truth. They saw the island as though from the gaze of a swooping hawk, and reeled at what was revealed to their omnipresent eyes.The ground exploded completely into shards, revealing a gaping maw of a tunnel, wide enough for the passage of a legion. And a legion marched forth from the earth… Rahkshi… screeched in challenge… strode out on their long legs in unison step, weapons held with deadly ease…Every breed, every shape of spine and pattern of staff, was represented in the ranks… There were perhaps a hundred Rahkshi at the foot of every Koro, each one a warrior with more speed and strength than two Toa combined. There were no forces in any Koro that could give any challenge to such a host of the staff-wielding creatures…None in the people in the Koros moved or spoke… the Rahkshi, once assembled before the holes they had stepped out of, stood in still readiness… The cacophony of a hundred shrill voices curdled blood for miles around; the likes of the sound had never been heard on the island of Mata Nui. The shrieks died down after a few seconds, leaving the Rahkshi standing as they were: ready, but motionless.You are here… trapped in a vain struggle… while my sons await the order to slay all those you know, all those you love,” the darkness insisted, pushing back against the sextet of elemental streams. “Soon they will be swallowed into void.Oreius' lips stretched into a grimace as he poured everything he had into the whirlwind of fire that burned into the Makuta's shadows. But everything he had didn't seem to be enough. Inu hovered uneasily, his thoughts full of the Prophecy that, despite their efforts, was going unfulfilled before their eyes. The Darkness was pushed back only to stretch forth again, its malevolent tentacles and serpents of shadow slithering forth despite the barrage of elements.And then- the vision. Oreius and Inu watched in horror as the sons of Makuta marched forth from their tunnels like innumerable ants pour out of a disturbed nest. The Toa of Fire watched as his beloved Ta-Koro was surrounded by Rahkshi; he shuddered in horror as he saw Ga-Koro cut off from the land by a horde of monsters. He felt the familiar iron taste of shame coat his tongue as Inu sadly watched his brothers march against the island he had come to call home.Oreius used his fear to ignite the reserves of energy he still had; his fire blazed hotter, burning yellow-white in the dim light, but the Makuta still lived, still pushed them back. His dark voice still echoed through the chamber and through their minds, infinite in its age and malice.“You are here… trapped in a vain struggle… while my sons await the order to slay all those you know, all those you love. Soon they will be swallowed into void.”Was this the way it would end? The Toa of Fire looked to Stannis, whose jaw was set in determination as he bombarded the Darkness with an mighty avalanche of stone. The Wanderer still believed; would faith alone be able to carry them when it seemed wisdom and valour had all but failed them?Yes. It had to.Leah’s thoughts chased through her mind as she tightly held her arms up, keeping her attack going. Wherever the shadows pushed against her, another powerful jet of water forced the darkness back. But the Toa of water knew neither she nor the others could keep up this attack indefinitely. And from the way things seemed, they were merely stalling the lord of shadows, not causing him any serious damage. But they had to keep trying, they had to give it all they got.The image from the vision was burned had burned itself into her mind. The villages, surrounded by Rahkshi, the people of Mata Nui trapped . Not one grim reaper, but legions, just waiting on the word to begin a terrible harvest. She saw them outside Le-Koro, the home she had left to protect all those she cared about. And she saw them outside Ga-Koro, the home she was sworn to protect through the legacy of Gali. And they were both about to fall. And Leah wished she could be there to help them. She knew they others probably thought the same. But they were right here, fighting the root of all this evil.And we’re not even making a dent. Destroy one shadow and two more take his place! she thought.Unless…I learned from… the First Toa… I… strengthened myself… against their… strategies. How foolish you are… to have believed I would… show you how to… defeat me. Makuta had said. But the Makuta said many things, had said many things already.The Makuta is a liar. His words are poisonous thoughts, planted in his opponent’s minds to make them waver, make them hesitate, or even join him. That’s why he showed us the visions, so that we would lay down our arms. He’s never told any sort of truth us, why would he start now?The more she thought about it, the more sense it made. Makuta’s words were those of a doom viper. And Leah called him out on it.“The only time that is running out is yours, Makuta! And it scares you! You did not create these Rahkshi for us. You made them to enforce your rule once we were gone. You had them move into position so they could round up the villagers after we were defeated, but we got further than you anticipated. That's why you sent them out for this!”More shadows rushed in, as she got more of Makuta’s attention, but she still had power, she still had her element and the waves of darkness broke against waves of water.“You reek of desperation. And maybe you did learn the first Toa’s ways.” Leah shouted defiantly, “But you forget: we’re not the first Toa – we are the Maru!”Another attack. Keeping her assault going with one hand, she fluidly moved to the side and ran towards Reordin. The shadows moved to cut her off but she conjured up more water with her free hand which Reordin shock-frosted, impaling the darkness with sub-zero spikes. It stopped them and gave her room to move again, but she knew they were just as desperate as the master of shadows right now, a momentary stalemate that could be broken. They still needed a new plan of attack.If only we could coordinate silently…The thought crossed her mind at random and she looked to the others. Just as she lifted her head, she saw Korero and they looked at each other. And Leah just felt that she needed to try and reach him somehow. She concentrated on the Toa of air and something gave way, some sort of invisible barrier. Oh, this is not going to be awkward at all, she thought.Korero, can you hear me?Leah? came the startled response. Are're inside my mind?The Toa of water's eyebrows shot up. It works... She was so startled, she momentarily let go of the water she hurled at Makuta and had to duck to avoid a gaping maw of shadow directed at her. She regained her footing and forced it back with a column of water, but the connection was still there.I don't know, Korero...maybe I'm in yours, or you're in mine...I just concentrated and it happened!The Toa of Air's thoughts sounded still amazed, but pragmatic.No time to worry about how it works. Let's just add one more to the tally of impossible things we've done today.Agreed. Probably something that stems from Gali's essence...I'll let the others know as well.A small grin crossed her face, among all the chaos. Korero was right...they had indeed made a habit out of doing the impossible. She hoped that trend would continue as she mentally reached out to the other Maru.Hello, Sulov.He examines the newcomer to His mind. It is a wave breaking against His mountain. It is excited, agitated by battle, yet beneath the excitement runs a deep stillness. It is not hollow as His enemy. Its voice, He finds, is Leah's. So He merely replies.--Leah.He knows she has already attempted mental contact with others and found it successful; otherwise, she would be surprised to meet Him. Therefore, He can discuss tactics. He is standing well now, striking down the appendages of His enemy, yet His enemy is similarly confining the range of His blades. His team requires a breakthrough.Tell Oreius and Stannis that we're making a volcano.What?Away from the blades, away from the team, His soul flies into the Earth. It is excited, agitated by battle, yet beneath the excitement runs a deep stillness. This stillness He cannot control. But the agitation around it, He can, and He forces the stillness upwards. It incinerates a path through to its destination.First round of lava's on me.The Toa of water nodded at Sulov. She understood - and immediately relayed the plan to Oreius and Stannis, while keeping up her own attack. And while her brothers of earth, stone and fire coordinated her own powers, she reached out to Reordin and Korero.You know what goes really well with a volcano? A blizzard.Sounds good to me.Korero's stream of Air was cut off, but before the dark tendrils could advance an inch, it was replaced with a whirling tunnel of wind, swirling around the volcano: a miniature hurricane.You know what goes really well with battle strategies? The magic word.Nonetheless, with a deliberately showly flourish of his hand and a totally unnecessary snap of his fingers at Korero, the Toa of Air's winds were joined by volleys of snow and thick ice, beating away at the tendrils.The Makuta truly was the void: no matter many strong or numerous the flames that poured form Oreius' sword, the Darkness sucked them up hungrily, feasting on their warmth. The shadowy tentacles inched farther out with every second, daring to swipe at its attackers once more. The Darkness was expanding instead of shrinkingThen he felt it- a warmth underground, so out of place in this cold cavern. He could feel the heat rippling through the black stone; he sensed a fire in the earth's belly that was rapidly approaching the surface.Oreius!The voice startled him; it echoed within his mind, reverberating against the stillness of a man who is focused on only one thing. His first thought was Makuta, but this voice was different. As Inu pointed out to him only moments later, the new voice lacked the deep, almost familial tones that distinguished the voice of the Darkness. It was lighter... it almost sounded like-Leah?Yes. Don't ask how, but quickly- Sulov wants you to help make a volcano!So that was the heat source that Oreius had detected. It was magma, the blood of the earth, flowing far below their feet. The earth rumbled faintly; Sulov was no doubt shaping a path through the ground, allowing the molten rock to rise.The Toa of Fire kept the majority of his concentration on the swirling darkness above him, but allowed a fragment of his consciousness to descend, sensing the vast heat that bubbled and broiled below them. It was slowly forcing its way up through the earth, following the channel Sulov was making. Oreius could feel it rising.Spinning one of his swords around, Oreius dropped to one knee stabbed his blade into the rock. The sword, glowing red-hot, bit into the black ground, and immediately began to feed the magma with heat and fire.Stannis too, received Leah's unspoken message. The Wanderer understood: this was true unity. Not battering their foe with six different attacks, but combining their powers, truly uniting, and giving everything they had as one.And so the Toa of Stone joined his brothers; reaching down deep into the earth, he sensed the molten stone. Sulov had already carved a channel for the magma; a fissure suddenly split the ground directly beneath the Makuta. Oreius had already fed the liquid rock with his flames, and now Stannis paired his power with that of his brothers', and called the magma up from the bowels of the earth.The red-hot lava burst from the ground, scalding the Darkness with the radiance and heat of the morning sun. The molten rock splashed over the tentacles, turning them instantly to ash; likewise, the shadowy serpents withered away, and the Makuta groaned in pain and fury.The eruption of elemental power from the ground was as volatile as an uproar of Lohraks and churning as acidic falls. Stannis felt the energy rumble through the vast chamber as she churned his power into the great attack, tensing euphorically while he was like a faucet letting loose as much force he could muster from his spout. Molten rock and earth alike rained down upon the snakes of shadow and withered them to dust as they seemed to suck the life from the constructs, drawing a whoop of victory all but assured. In the cloud of searing red earth and stone that cleared the darkness away like a torchflame burns cobwebs away it seemed that the six Toa Maru were on the verge of whooping for joy. Surely in this blast of truly united and dedicated effort in which not only the powers of each hero but their very minds and consciousnesses were employed to bring about a great light would be the end of their foe. And truly it seemed to be so. The Makuta moaned and roared in a rage and thrashed its own inky power in a vain attempt to lay a finger on the heroes. Its attacks, psychological and physical, were for naught. Mata Nui would have his way that day. Stannis, no more a wanderer but still a Prophet, recalled the final lines of the Second Great Prophesy. United as one,The foe is undone,His malice defeated by good. The screams of darkness died as did the attacks and the rumble of the subterranean volcano reigned supreme for a moment more until the Maru ceased their press. The ingredients had been added and mixed. This truly was the end. The Makuta and its vestiges were nowhere to be seen and the receding light of the magma yet illuminated the far reaches of the magnificent hall. But the heroes were too tired to give a shout of joy. Their most recent display of power had left them devoid of their elemental reserves and their bodies, strong as they were, felt the toll of being the channel of such an immense outpour of pure energy. For all that they had endured they could barely do much more than give a sigh of relief as they tentatively looked around their area, hoping that their quest was over but still reluctant to admit their victory. The expressive caution of Stannis had rubbed off on them, even on the most euphoric of the team. After a moment of silence Leah started to say something. “Well, that’s that... I guess.” The others nodded in agreement, eager to finally accept their great victory and embraces and hand shaking abounded among the six toa. For a few seconds they were joyful and content with their work. But the Darkness yet stirred. “Impressive.“You’re dead!” Stannis shouted up into the chamber, unbelieving. He did not want to let go of what he believed he had won.Not quite,” came the booming baritone reply. It was not as deep now but still vile, wretched, monstrous, and it reverberated in the vast chamber, taunting them repeatedly. “Your valiance is... commendable, as is... your vigour. But you tried... to destroy Nothing with something... and such a thing is... impossible.“Then we will make it possible!” Leah said with resolve, disgusted at the stubbornness of the Darkness’ existence. “We will end you here and now!”Ah. But how?” the Darkness chided. A tangle of tendrils could be barely discerned in one of the upper corners of the huge cavern, instantly recognizable as the Makuta; two red eyes, slanted and sinister, yet gleamed from its core and narrowed at the six heroes who still stood in formation. “Your powers are gone,” the monster reminded them, “your bodies... weakened. You were... never strong enough... to defeat me. No then. Not now. Not ever.” The mass of black murk plopped to the ground like a basket of spilled noodles and gave a sickening sound as it gathered itself again, disturbing and nasty like the thousand Kraata it could contain. “We have each other!”Let’s see what good that does for you this time,” he mocked as he stood among them then. Like a giant spider snatching up hapless prey the Makuta marched forward and snapped its evil vines like mandibles. The Toa Maru stood together again, holding fast with their weapons and skills, but to their utter dismay were smashed aside by the Makuta’s simple attacks this time. The wisps were smaller and fewer but no less powerful, they found. Stannis and Sulov both managed to use their raw physical might to parry several of those vines, warding them off with their weapons with sufficient grace to stay footed but were finally overwhelmed. They were the last to fall. Stannis had his legs snatched from under him and then he was slapped aside like a batted ball. His weapons clattered behind him in a trail and he ground to a halt on the floor. His body ached all over, sore and strained, and his muscles seemed to disobey his neural commands to move. The Prophet was barely able to lift his eyes to scan the room and witness the fates of his fellows. Each one was scattered, separated. Leah had been rendered unconscious; her eyes did not open but her heartlight hummed. Reordin and Oreius were thrown against the wall, the toa of ice in the same shape as Stannis while Oreius, the mightiest with Inu, was restrained against the wall by pegs of shadow. Sulov sat upright in the middle ground, still a mountain even when not standing, a lump of will that refused to surrender to the fate seemingly dealt to him. The Darkness laughed. It laughed at the pitiful would-be heroes who were in disbelief at how quickly the tides had turned on them yet again. It guffawed in ego, but its voice still held that little waver that had infected it since the unity-laden attack. But with each passing breath it seemed to regain its old might. Stannis could not let it continue to regenerate. Still, it haunted them by giving a moment of mercy. “Any last words, ‘Toa Maru?’” it asked, knowing full well it had completely won. The situation was beyond dire. The Makuta had placed his iron grip on the island. If the Maru succeeded there were already Rahkshi at the gates of every village to ###### it to dust, and if they failed then there would be nothing left to save. The Maru were defenseless, wiped aside like mice and devoid of their former might and unity. There truly was no more hope for them to rise up and the tactics they felt were right had failed them, too. But the Prophesy’s words were still to be heeded. “I... have faith,” Stannis quivered.Hmmm?” The two red eyes swiveled to glare at the speaker. All those travels, all that time spent remembering and learning, had taught Stannis that there was always a way. Mata Nui provided always and Destiny oft worked in mysterious ways, sometimes in unexpected ways. Even when everything was lost there was still hope and if Mata Nui willed it it could be done. And the great Spirit had provided them with the tools to complete their destiny well: The safeguards. Stannis knew what he had to do. The time had come for him to use the greatest gift given. The Granite Guardian once again slowly gathered himself. One finger twitched and then the hand did, a foot allowed a leg to stir and soon, eventually, Stannis was standing once more. “Permit me this soliloquy, Makuta.”I see you have spirit, little toa,” the Darkness said. “I hate spirit. But you... amuse me.Stannis ignored the Darkness’ condescension and said what he had to say. Trembling, Stannis fell to his knees and groaned in pain as he gathered his thoughts. “I, Stannis Maru, speak for my brethren. We have journeyed through the depths of this earth and climbed the highest of mounts to bring us to this place. My trek has been the longest and was one without direction. I gathered clues and hints, first from each of the old Chronicler’s Company and then about the Second Great Prophesy. I stood before Turaga Nuju when you yourself stole that venerable elder from my presence right after he christened me The Wanderer. I mocked your minions with ill regard and scorn thereafter and turned away every hand you gave me. All these months I have journeyed with a single underlying principle: That the Prophesy is never wrong. I am a prophet and in those words do I place my faith. “What Mata Nui gives you cannot take away. It is everlasting. You can inhabit a room crafted for me but there will come a time that you cannot remain and it shall be reclaimed. What is darkness but the absence of the light? Let it be known that light has returned and demands what is due to it. “Mata Nui chose us, chose me, to be his messengers and deliverers, his righteous paladins who would cast you from your inky ill-begotten throne. For a thousand years you have reigned from this place. You were proud, you believed you could turn aside the hands of Destiny that were sent to you. But here I am to tell you that Destiny oft works in mysterious ways. It comes from the most unexpected of places.” Stannis paused. None stirred. The Makuta seemed deeply intrigued in the toa’s mannerisms but did not move, too assured of its win to bother. “So I say, hear this and gather to hear the tale of the Great Spirit and his creation.”The Kanohi Hiripaki, the Great Mask of Stories, gleamed slightly with the utterance of those words. The red eyes were warily attracted to them but the Makuta knew not the nature of what Takua had stolen from him a century prior and allowed Stannis his words. “There was a creature of vilest sin who held sway over a promised land given by Mata Nui. He was dark and inky and held a reign of terror and discord. The Makuta, he was called. But when all things seemed to be in his favour, when the last heroes sent by his greatest fiend came to him and were turned aside, his own destiny was altered.” Stannis arose, the strength returning to his legs. Like a statue being erected by a host of carvers he found his footing and stood with fervour before the tangle of shadow. His voice rose as well and he cried out in disdain at the monster before him, saying, “And he was SWALLOWED UP INTO NOTHING! For while Nothing cannot be destroyed it can still be smitten. And the Makuta, the great enemy himself, was TAKEN INTO THE VOID FROM WHENCE HE CAME!! So it was prophesied... and so transpired the legend.” The Hiripaki glowed with Joske’s great light as it was suddenly activated, transforming what was once a simple recital into true prophetic law. The Makuta felt bound by the arms of reality itself as space closed in around the Darkness. It shrieked and cried out in a shrill voice that threatened to burn into the Maru’s ears but the voice grew tinnier with each second, as if its might was increasingly diminished. The Makuta, the terror of Mata Nui and kind of shadows, ruler of the Mangaia and brother to Mata Nui, found himself drawn into the Void, sucked into Nothing, eaten into Non-existence. In a final flash of light the place where the Makuta once stood was vacant of even his corpse and the shadows in the great chamber receded, no longer under the sway of its prince. The Makuta was gone. Stannis stood there, impassive as before, stony of disposition and unwavering in sternness as he still looked at the spot his foe occupied seconds earlier. The other Maru, previously unaware of the power of their leader’s mask, were in complete awe, astonished by the profound power of that Kanohi. Stannis slowly stepped forward to the others and cast his blank but vivid grey eyes to Reordin as he spoke to the others. “Never tickle me again.”

  • Edited on 2013-05-06 01:01:21 by EmperorWhenua
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  • Posted 2013-05-06 00:56:22 UTC
    BZPRPG: Kini-Nui
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  • IC:


    "You make it hard for me to like you."



  • Tags:
  • Posted 2013-05-06 02:28:00 UTC
    BZPRPG: Kini-Nui
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  • IC:

    For a while, the Maru stood still, looking alternatively between the empty space where the Makuta had been instants ago and the mask of their leader. The Hiripaki’s glow seemed almost satisfied as it faded, as though the Kanohi was aware of its own importance and its role in larger prophecies. The chamber was still dark, barely lit by the red lightstones, but the darkness was no longer full. It was the empty darkness of absence. It reassured the Maru as nothing else could’ve.


    Korero was the first to whoop. The Toa of Air back flipped with uncontained joy, laughing happily. The tension thus broken, the weight of destiny lifted at last from their shoulders, the others quickly joined him in celebration. Reordin and Leah embraced; she giggled, he guffawed, and both their eyes were wet. Sulov caught Oreius in a surprise bear hug, and inside the Toa of Fire’s mind, Inu seemed to grin uncontrollably. At last, the Parakuka was freed of his father; he flooded Oreius’ mind with the warmth of the sun, the dripping of bright water, the clean scent of a broken leaf, smiling eyes, a slug bouncing comically up and down to strange music.


    Stannis could only bring himself to smile slightly, and that was more a show than anything. Even as Korero ran to him and pulled him unwillingly into a skipping dance, dread gnawed at his mind. He had expelled Makuta, yes… but the Hiripaki was a mask of balance. He had banished the great evil into the void, into the Legend – which meant that something else of equal power must have emerged from the Legend. Stannis did not know what that had been, and the uncertainty was worrisome indeed. They may have just leapt out of the frying pan and into the fire.


    In the chamber behind the Maru, the bodies of the warped First Toa, conscious or otherwise, began to melt. They had been unstable shades, and without their dark master or their deepest essences – drained long ago – to keep them together, there was no force to grant them physical integrity. As though a fire was lit in front of them, their dark armor, dark masks, dark weapons splintered into soft, cool pieces, liquid shadow, that oozed away from their definitive forms. They closed their melting eyes, at peace at last. On the surface, the body of Gali dissolved in the same way; the being that had been known as Reka became one with the shadows in the roots as she strode through the trees. An unreal wind cut through her, and soon she was nothing.


    Joske, meanwhile, felt Heuani’s sword shudder suddenly in his grip. Its transparent blade, attractive as always in the sun, flared as though illuminated suddenly by an inner radiance – though it could have been a trick of the light, he thought. It had been a very long day… He took Cael by the waist, and they walked back towards civilization together. As they strode over roots and shrubs, Joske looked again at the sword to be sure he’d only imagined what he had seen. The flamberge looked as it always had. Joske told himself he needed to sleep.


    Stannis gently pushed aside the celebratory Korero and called to the others. “We will return here soon, to finish our work; the dark instruments of the Makuta remain, and we must remove them. But now is not the time. Now, we owe the people of Mata Nui the knowledge that they have been craving: that Makuta is gone. Each of us should go to our Koros – or, our new Koros – and tell the people what has transpired here.”


    The Maru, on their way out of Mangaia, quickly found the entrances to six wide tunnels, each one clearly labeled as leading to one of the six Koros. They assumed these had been the routes by which the armies of Rahkshi had attacked. Before they separated, Stannis addressed them again.


    “We have achieved the unthinkable today,” he told the other Toa. “But our duties to this island are far from over.” He paused, debating whether or not to tell the other Maru the potential consequences of his actions. He decided that telling them could wait, and after a moment of silence, the Wanderer spoke once more. “I am proud to call myself one of you.”


    Even Reordin didn’t respond sarcastically to that. Stannis, his gesture of respect given, turned away from the others. Without any more words, the Maru split, each stepping to his or her own tunnel, and started their long treks home.

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