So I was using Google Images to get some visual references to build Toa Lesovikk's aqua sled on the LDD [y'know, like ya'do]
But something strange happened when I Googled 'Lesovik' [with one 'K', that's very important]; instead of the first Toa of Air, I got images of this woodland spirit;
I thought that was odd, but didn't think much of it since names in Bionicle tended to be taken from other cultures [Kopaka and Pohatu are Maori words for ice and Stone, respectively, and Tuyet means ice or snow in another language] So a Toa of Air [Green] happens to have taken his name from some old mythical woodland spirit who lives in lush greenery. Cool.
But then pout of curiosity, I scrolled down. And I found this:
This is what's known as a Lesovik Shambler, from the game 'Deathtrap'. Now I don't know about you, but when I first saw this, I immediately thought of Umarak the Hunter
The resemblance is frighteningly uncanny; jagged antlers; double-jointed legs; and a big weapon?
But the more rational side of my brain kicked in and thought that because the Shambler was a videogame character, of course the designers of said game would take liberties with the mythology in order to create a cooler looking character to play as. So I scrolled through GI and while I found an abundance of bearded old men in trees, the SECOND most common depiction of a Lesovik [also known as a 'Leshy'] happened to be this:
Antlered head, skull-like face, really creepy vibe, broad shoulders, goat-shaped legs, sometimes having feet with jagged toes, seen primarily in the woods, sometimes carrying a large weapon, AND touches of green throughout them?! Heck, NickonAquaMagna even described Umarak as looking like some kind of evil fairy or wood spirit, the kind children are led to believe will take them if they stray too far into the woods alone. Just like the second most common depiction of a Lesovik.
So yeah, Umarak the Hunter is based off the scarier depictions of the Slavic Leshy. Cool. But recall how their less common name is that of a Toa of Air's, minus that single 'K'?
This raises the question of why or how exactly a Bionicle Gen-1 secondary protagonist ends up having the same name as the mythical characters that visually inspired the main Bionicle Gen-2 antagonist. That's quite the coincidence, isn't it? A connection so obscure, yet somehow still so strong.
I had to know more. So I followed a link to Epika.org on a page about these mythical characters, and here's what I found:
The Lesovik or is a male woodland spirit in Slavic mythology who protects wild animals and forests. He is roughly analogous to the Woodwose of Western Europe and the Basajaun of the Basque Country. These are forest spirits who are green and lead travellers of their track.
A male Lesovik has the form of a man with a green beard and long shaggy hair. He has green eyes, cast no shadow and wears boots on the wrong foot. He is also regarded as the guardian of animals of the forest.
During Winter they would hide and remain calm. In Spring they can be heard howling and would fight with themselves causing storms and rain in hope to bring Autumn quickly and ruin Spring. However the rains and storms soon ended.
Each forest has its own family with a wife known as Lesovikha and children known as Leshonki. They lead travellers through the forest in the wrong direction until they were thoroughly lost or were stuck in a bog. The spirit would then disappear leaving the traveller in despair. To ward off the troublesome Lesovik it is advised to carry some bread to give as a gift or to wear one’s clothes inside out until one reaches the end of the forest.
So that's the deal; they're little more than mischievous green-bearded woodland spirits who lead travelers astray and then ditch them. Nothing to do with Umarak, and even less to do with the Toa of Air. Dead end, right?
One part of the description in particular stood out to me;
cast no shadow
You'd think right there off would be the road sign that confirms 'dead end', since Umarak travels via shadows, and to reiterate, Lesoviks cast no shadows.
But also recall that 'Lesovikk' isn't the name of the G2 Hunter, but the G1 Toa, and also recall that the toa is a protagonist, and that beyond a frustratingly mischievous nature and tendency to bicker and cause storms, leshys aren't actually bad guys, just forces of nature.
But what if Umarak wasn't always a villain? What if he once fought on the side of good? What if something corrupted him and turned him into the dreaded hunter he now is?
What if, somehow; Toa Lesovick was turned into Umarak the Hunter?
Crazy, I know, but hear me out;
So a while ago I had a theory that Gen-2 was actually the continuation of Gen-1 and that somehow Velika the Great Being in Matoran Form had succeeded in whatever nefarious scheme he had in mind, that plan being to rebuild the world in his 'perfect' image, which is how we no longer have Matoran or Agori, but the otherwise unnamed 'Protectors', which can sustain themselves through reproduction, something fairly new to the Bionicle landscape.
My evidence for this were two things; the Mask of Time frequently but indirectly appearing in the early animations, and Ekimu's Mask of Creation [both Legendary Gen-1 Masks. Odd, now that I think about it]
For whatever reason, the Kanohi Vahi kept appearing as Easter eggs, as part of rocks, lava, and even in clouds;
Yet when we see Gen-2's mask of Time, its completely different, looking like the top half of a mask instead of the bottom half of an entirely different one
Gen-1 Kanohi Vahi Gen-2 Mask of Time
And then we have the Mask of Creation, never actually seen physically during Gen-1, but very interestingly described;
The mask was the most ornate anyone had ever seen – more than just a Kanohi, it was a true work of art. The metallic protodermis from which it was forged was arranged in intricate patterns and designs, each reflecting one of the many cultures that flourished in the universe. The eye slits were angular and pointed, giving him an air of both wisdom and a vague sense of menace.
While I can't attest to every point, two factors match up almost perfectly;
arranged in intricate patterns and designs, each reflecting one of the many cultures that flourished in the universe
Which lines up with the 3D symbols on Ekimu's Mask, and to my knowledge is the only mask aside from the mask of Control which is like that [all other symbols or designs are just painted on the masks when there at all] And then there are the eyes;
The eye slits were angular and pointed, giving him an air of both wisdom and a vague sense of menace
I'm not sure I would call them 'slits', but that aside, could this have described the eyeholes any better?? And on top of that, the way the mask is described, it almost makes one think of a crown, and no mask is more crown-like than Ekimu's. There's almost no doubt now that both versions of this mask match up perfectly
So we have a Legendary Mask that keeps coming up in easter eggs but never actually physically; a Legendary Mask worn by someone other than Artahka; and a toa that has somehow become a terrifying shadow hunter [or, if you will, a literal 'Dark Hunter']
So there are loose connections; but what does this all mean??
At this point, given how Gen-2 was unceremoniously axed before they could deliver the promised third year, we can only speculate, but given all the evidence [including what we had at the cliffhanger of Gen-1] here's what I think happened;
Velika was troubled by the state of the world and all that had happened, so his plan was to reinvent it entirely to a more 'stable' setting where the threat of world annihilation would never come to pass as it had in the Shattering. As a distraction, he framed Toa Lesovick for the murders of both Karzahni and Tren Krom [both figures who could have opposed him and his plan] while he went to work. [Somehow] Artahka [and possibly the Melding Universe Makuta Teridax] managed to hide away the Toa Nuva out in space among the stars, out of Velika's reach
Meanwhile, Velika obtained the Kanohi Vahi [the Mask of Time], though not before Lesovikk got to it first, and [Velika] managed to get it and used it to completely rewrite the entire world's history so that not only did the Shattering never happen, but Mata Nui never existed, nor anything that had ever lived inside his body. He created a veritable utopia, but unfortunately, there were somethings he could not change;
Somehow [maybe because because Lesovik had found the Vahi first and Artahka and AU Teridax were present-?] they were also unaffected by the timeline rewrite, so -using the Kanohi Ignika, Velika re-purposed them to suit his needs, Artahka becoming Ekimu the Mask Maker and unable to access the full extent of his mask, Makuta now Ekimu's assistant or 'brother' and with a different mask altogether, and Lesovikk into a loathsome, frightening creature, robbed of both his toa and mask powers [why Velika seems to hate on Lesovikk so much, I don't know]
The Toa Nuva menawhile had managed to be out of range of the Vahi's affects, but were still vulnerable while in stasis. Rather than eliminating them, Velika decided to re-purpose them as well, making them warriors on call who would defend the people of this new Spherous Magna from who or whatever threatened it. 'Ekimu' was even intended as a backup '7th Toa of Light' should the need for one ever arise.
And all of them got their memories blocked so they wouldn't try and return things back to the way they were... however... Makuta remembered.
He didn't fully remember, but he knew that this world and everyone on it wasn't how it was all supposed to be, and he knew that simply opposing the forces that maintained this world head-on wouldn't work; he needed more power. But because he was never an adept mask-maker, when he tried crafting 'the Mask of Ultimate Power' it was imperfect, and the raw power drove him insane, forcing Ekimu to banish him to the shadowworld [or whatever its called]
From within, Makuta was eventually able to call upon the wandering Lesovikk, now called 'Umarak', and playing on Umarak's own suppressed memories to convince him to do his dirty work for him, and [somehow] was able to imbue him with shadow travel powers.
However, Velika's own security system kicked in and the Toa [nigh Nuva] arrived from the stars, no memory of their past and open to suggestion from whomever was willing to tell them.
So what about the Masks of Time and Creation? Velika couldn't alter the Mask of Creation as the Ignika and Vahi had no affect on it and he dared not destroy it as he feared it's raw powers unleashed would have dire consequences -and the same thing with the Vahi and Ignika, so he left it with Ekimu and made sure he would make only masks with it, then kept the Ignika for himself, leaving the vahi with Ekimu as Velika had no use for it and was certain no one would figure out how to use it's true powers [thus far in Gen-2, no one has figured it out yet] However, the Vahi did indeed change, altering itself physically completely, almost as a sign that things had changed in the grand scheme.
But its a Mask of Time, and memories are a part of time, and memories have a way of... enduring. Although it's shape was changed, the memory of the old timeline remained within, faintly projecting it's old self across the landscapes. maybe Makuta saw these and they jogged his memory, or maybe he'd actually tried to do nthe Mask in secret and THAT jogged his memory. Who knows?
But the point is this; gen-2 may be an entirely rewritten timeline, but its not a different one; its the same Gen-1 universe we all grew up with, but now changed beyond recognition. Changed into a safe, vanilla world where Toa are few and have no true independence, and where villains are docile and easily defeated. And those that survived being erased? they're changed, changed beyond recognition.
Gen-2 was truly just the beginning in it's entirety, but not of a new continuity, no; of a new era in the same continuity we've been following since 2001.
So, this raises the question...
UPDATE: I'd previously posted this elaborate and loosely strung together theory on y DeviantArt account, and a commentor had ths interesting bit of info to pass on:
Also Umarak is a play of the Slavic (Serbian) words "U mrak" meaning "In the darkness" or "In the shadows". Literally his name would be "In the shadows, the Hunter". Also Leshy may have inspired the Slavic (Serbian) word "Leš" meaning "corpse".
Velika means "Large" in Slavic (Serbian)...which fits with the Great Being aspect.
I have checked and while the translations aren't 100% exact, they do match up as he said. This makes me wonder if perhaps they did have greater plans for Toa Lesovikk in Gen-1 in relation to his name, as the translation of Velika's name would imply for that character.
I do find it even more odd in that context then that Umarak [who would later be the big bad of Gen-2 [physically]] would have an appearance that more matches up with the translation of a name of an otherwise entirely unrelated character.
Again, this is all theory, but the relations and connections despite being different continuities are too startling for me to ignore. My idea [TL:DR. too late] is that Velika has created a 'Flashpoint' timeline [based off the alternate DC universe accidentally created by the Flash] in which rather than a new continuity being created, the original [sometimes 'core'] timeline has been altered into an entirely different history, something I believe a Great Being to be capable of with such items as the Kanohis Ignika and Vahi.
Not to mention, think of how this radically changes Gen-2, not just how WE see it, but also how the characters within see it and how it will function from a story perspective; what if the Toa learn of the old timeline and their old lives and realize they're pawns of some selfish god-figure? And think about the sheer implications of one being wiping the entire Matoran Universe out of existence! Mata-Nui; GONE. Makuta Teridax; GONE. Vakama; Jaller; Metru Nui; the Bohrok; the Shadowed One, Roodaka; ALL GONE and never were. How terrifying does this make Velika, just KNOWING some being is out there who did all this?! [Plus, the Toa have no secondary mask powers]
And what if they want their old timeline back? Suddenly the stakes are elevated to basically a few warriors declaring war on a GOD [self-imposed false god, if it makes anyone feel more comfortable] How does one even fight a GOD?!
But also think about the ethical situation of it all; sure, Velika wiped out not only whole thousands of years of history, but also almost every being who existed in that time; but as a result of his actions, entirely new beings with THEIR own thousands of years of history, as well. Plus, one of his sole motivations for doing all this was because things had gone so terribly wrong for Spherous Magna in the first place; the planet shattered in three; the machine built to fix it was depowered and crashed from within; hundreds of beings from inside that robot put the lessers and more innocent through nightmarish hells; and the Bara Magnans had to endure what was essentially a desert wasteland THE ENTIRE TIME.
In that light, what Velika prevented all of that horror from having ever taken place at all! No shattering, no crashed repair units, no nightmarish villains inflicting hell upon the innocent, no desert wastelands; by comparison, the Gen-2 world is a peaceful haven that can't even BEGIN to imagine the horrors of Gen-1!
So does that make it right to reset everything to the way they used to be? Is it right to take back all those erased from existence, even if that means erasing what there is now from existence? Should one villain's actions justify the punishment or destruction of millions of neutrals?
But what even if it turns out the Toa arent reinventions of the originals, but entirely new beings modeled after the original Toa Nuva?
Just... just THINK of all the ethical and philosophical material this theory and possibility provides!
Sorry if this theory isn't too well put together or even thought out, but t still gives me chills [in all the right ways] and I just had to share it