Back to story-time with the DarkMaestro!
So Tahu’s story ended up being a lot longer than I first imagined, so I’m splitting it into two parts (mind you, I’m still writing the second part, so give me a few days to upload that).
The metal blades bounce off each other, sparks flying upon every impact. The small crowd cheers with excitement as the two warriors spar in the center of the old arena.
The blades lock, the two matoran stuck at an impasse.
One clenches with concentration, sweat building up underneath his golden mask, his teeth gritting as he blocks his rival’s attack.
The other matoran can barely contain his laughter, a huge smirk drawn behind his red mask.
“Oh come on, Jaller! Surely such a strong ruler like yourself can hold their own!” he mocks.
Jaller tries to push back, but his arms begin to weaken.
“Strength is… Not determined only by brute force, Narmoto.”
The blades draw closer to Jaller’s mask. Narmoto raises his eyebrows in amusement.
“Are you sure? It seems to be giving me the edge here!”
With a final push, Jaller falls on his back. Before he can get up, a blade points as his throat.
“Narmoto has won!” an audience member shouts. Soon the crowd of matoran are up in cheer, with the losers reluctantly clapping.
Narmoto gives a wave to the crowd as Jaller pulls himself to his feet. Narmoto turns back to him.
“Very good bout, Jaller. You just need to build up endurance to beat me in a deadlock.”
Jaller pants, trying to catch his breath, “Perhaps… but I don’t have to beat you with brute strength.”
“Tch. This again,” Narmoto scoffs, rolling his eyes. “One day you will realize that your “strategies” will cost you your life! On the battlefield, we must let the warrior within us decide our actions, and pave our way to victory!”
With their swords sheathed, the two rulers begins exiting the arena. They pass under the stone arches that lead to outside, passing the numerous carving honoring champions, heroes, and glatorians who served Mangaia.
“I’d rather decide my own fate,” Jaller retorts. “Those who don’t plan often will fail in the long run.”
Narmoto groans, “Oh for the love of Ikir, now you sound like that coward Norik; always talking making plans and considering “diplomacy”, yet never has the guts to hold a sword on the battlefield. Matoran like him, they makes me sick.”
Jaller frowns, glancing over at his hot-headed peer, “And matoran who are rash like you will be destined for their own demise, Narmoto.”
“Well so far,” Narmoto smirks, “I have yet to lose a fight. I have no need for “plans” or “negotiations”; I have me and my heart, and that’s all what my warriors and I need.”
They stop at a crossroad. Jaller pats his hand on Narmoto’s shoulder, and walks down a path.
“If you insist, Narmoto. But pray to Ikir that it isn’t sheer luck.”
Narmoto frowns, “Why do you say that?”
Jaller looks over his shoulder, then continues forward.
“Because the longer you hold off the inevitability of defeat, the worse of a fate you will endure.”
“I say we finish the job.” The other rulers turn towards Narmoto, who is sitting in his seat with his arms crossed. “We managed to push back the Vako to their hive, but they’re going to attack again sooner or later. Why wait for that time to pass?” “Because we don’t have time to waste able-body matoran on a hunt,” argues Jaller. “A number of warriors are injured, and we should be using our strength to reinforce our defensives.” “I agree,” says Norik. “We should consider-” “Pah, of course you agree,” snorts Narmoto. One of the other rulers shakes his head, “Now is not the time for abrasive behavior, Ruler of Malum.” Narmoto sharply stands up, slamming his palms onto the stone table. “I don’t understand any of your reasoning! Is it not often said that the greatest defense is a strong offense!? Why wait to defeat these pests before they have a chance to rejuvenate their numbers!?” Now Jaller stands up. “Because we do not have warriors to spare, Narmoto! And the warriors we _do_ have should be used to strengthen our defenses-” His blue eyes lock with Narmoto’s. “_-not make them Vako-fodder!_” Before he can make a rebuttal, the leader of the council stands. “Let us put this to a vote,” says the Turaga. “Who amongst you will stand with Narmoto’s course of action?” The council is silent. Narmoto sneers in annoyance. “In favor of Jaller’s plan?” asks the Turaga. The council raises their hands. The Turaga nods. “The decision is made. We will use our available resources to ensure that the cities of Mangaia are protected. We expect everyone to do their part.” The rulers glance at Narmoto. “You lot…” snarls Narmoto, “are pathetic. Any true warrior of Mangaia would fight these creatures…” He turns and exits the council room. Jaller shakes his head. The Turaga sits back down, “It amazes me that someone so brash could have made it to a leadership role.” Norik chuckles, “Well, he comes from Malum; almost everyone there is a hot-headed brute. I’m more surprised that the matoran with no control over fire made it this far.” Hours later, a small ensemble of matoran stand on the slopes of an ash-covered mountain. They are armed with spears and swords, eyes glued to their leader. “I don’t care what those cowards believe!” shouts Narmoto. “We are Mangaians of Malum! When something dares to threaten us, we will not stand by! We will make sure they will never again try to attack our homes!” He raises his sword to the sky. “Give me your swords!” The warriors cheer as they thrust their weapons into the air. And with a defiant roar, they march forward.
The Turaga looks over the stone tablet over and over again. He then peers up to Norik.
“… are you certain of this?”
Norik solemnly nods, “I have reliable informants; they have never given me false information.”
The Turaga sighs, letting the tablet fall out of his hand and sharply hit the table. He sits there quietly for a moment.
“I’m getting too old for this nonsense, Norik.”
The Turaga turns to the calculating ruler.
“Summon the rest of the council. And bring that ******* in.”
Narmoto is roughly shoved into the council room by some guards. They close the door behind him.
The fiery ruler whirls around, “How dare you lay your hands on me! I’ll make sure you-”
He slowly turns to the Turaga, who is standing with arms behind his back.
“Do you know why I called you here?” the old matoran asks sternly.
Narmoto walks towards them, “Hmm, maybe to give me a ‘thank you’ for dealing with the problem, right? Because if memory serves me right, I believe that mountain is-”
The Turaga pulls out the tablet and slides it across the table to Narmoto. The council watches them silently.
Narmoto eyes him before picking it up. Upon the tablet is one sentence;
The Ice King of Ihu was killed by a swarm of Vako.
Narmoto raises an eyebrow, “What does this have to do with me?”
“Wh-wh-WHAT?!” the Turaga sputters in dismay. “Are you stupid!? Because of your actions, King Matoro was killed!!”
The ruler of Malum scoffs, “What, and it’s my fault that he couldn’t fight against the Vako? And why do you all care so much; we’re not exactly friendly to those icy royals…”
Now Jaller stands up.
“And that is exactly why we are concerned. Because of your rash judgement, you have pushed Mangaia into danger.”
Narmoto cocks his head in confusion, “Danger?”
Norik chuckles, “My, you really are thick, Malum warrior.”
“Narmoto. Let him speak,” Jaller commands. Narmoto goes into a silent fume.
Norik stands up, a coy smile drawing upon his face.
“Mangaia and Ihu have always been at odds; it’s simply the nature of our elements. However, we have maintained peace between the two regions; despite our bickering and name-calling, we don’t see each other as threats.”
“But now, it has changed. While you may have removed the Vako threat from our home, you sent them to Ihu instead. And by doing that, the Ice King was killed defending his kingdom; a devastating blow to Ihu.”
He leans in towards Narmoto.
“Unlike you, Ihuians are not stupid. They know the Vako come from here, and don’t rampage into their region unless something else makes them. They’ll put two and two together, and we’ll be heading towards a war.”
“If we haven’t already,” mutters the Turaga.
“Because of your selfish actions, you’ve endangered the people of Mangaia!” interrupts one of the rulers. Suddenly, everyone begins yelling at Narmoto, who swears and shouts in an attempt to defend himself. Fists bang on the table, eyes burns with a furious flame-
Everyone goes silent as Jaller folds his arms in front of him.
“For disobeying the orders of the council, and by endangering the lives of both Mangaia and Ihu, I propose that Narmoto be banished via omission; all of his known deeds and victories will be erased from public record, he will revoke his title as Ruler of Malum, and no one will converse with him unless it is of highest importance.”
The council members murmur to themselves. Narmoto snarls and clenches his fists.
“I’m going to break that stupid golden mask of yours, Jaller.”
The Ruler of Ahi ignores him.
The Turaga clasps his hands together.
“Let us vote.”
A few minutes later, guards drag Narmoto out of the council room; the former ruler screaming and vowing revenge. The council watches with a mixture of annoyance and disappointment.
As the doors are about to close, Jaller and Narmoto eyes lock onto one another. Jaller’s eyes are a crystal sea of clarity, while Narmoto’s is a turbulence of fury.
“The longer you hold off the inevitability of defeat, the worse of a fate you will endure.”
The words burn into both of their skulls as the doors cut off their bound glares.
Narmoto couldn’t take it anymore. After months of enduring the silence, the newfound poverty, the loneliness; he decided it was his time to leave. Without a single farewell, he left the gates into Malum and heads to the rocky mountains. He scales the pointed rocks, earning a number of dents and cuts climbing the sharp obsidian points. However, the fire that burns within him drives his body forward, the pain he sustains from his climb fading away. Suddenly something strange occurs. A beam of light descends from the ash sky, crashing into a mountain in the distance. The earth shakes beneath him upon the beam’s impact. “What the-?” An unearthly sound rips through the air, as if the world was being torn apart; accompanying the loud and gritting reverberations is a sharp clicking sound, as if a clock was slowing down. The orange-yellow glows of the lava flows begin to turn to a muted gray color, the embers slowing their descent until they froze in their place. Narmoto’s body begins to tense up, as his body turns a grayish tone. Thoughts slow down… Blackness surrounds around him… Then, there’s a light. A crimson bird with wings of fire soars towards him. With a screech, it plunges into him. As the phoenix crashes into his frame, it erupts into flames that coat Narmoto’s body. The blackness disappears, and Narmoto’s body is released. He screams in pain as his plating begins to melt. Red molten metal drips from his mask as an overwhelming heat surges through his body. Flames erupt from in between his platings, the ground below his feet turning to magma. **_TAHU!_** Narmoto’s body explodes; plating and pieces of metal flying off into different directions. Yet, standing in his place is a new figure; bright red armor, glowing blue energy coursing over his body, flames swaying around his form. Tahu opens his eyes, the crystal gems surveying around him. He looks down at his hands, studying his new form. Cautiously, he extends an arm forward, point at a nearby boulder. Fire begins circling around his hand in some strange dance. He stares in awe, before thrusting his arm forward. The fire forms a ball and launches towards the boulder. The fireball shatters the large rock, scattering the debris. Tahu pulls his arm back, staring at flames in his hand. _What’s happened to me?_
Tahu’s blue eyes glare daggers at the yellow eyes impassively staring at him.
Well, eye; he wasn’t sure if the telescope lens counted as an eye or not.
“I’m the leader of this Toa team, Kopaka,” he says sternly.
“Saying you are doesn’t make it a reality, Tahu,” comes Kopaka’s cold reply. “Before I became a Toa, I was a prince in line for the Ihuian throne. I believe I am more qualified than you to lead this team.”
“Yeah, sure,” Tahu scoffs. “A pompous prince has no idea of how to lead others. I was Narmoto, the Leader and Commander of the forces of Malum; I have never lost a fight.”
Kopaka folds his arms, “And I was Izotor, son of the Ice King Matoro, who trained me to be just as a good leader as him.”
Tahu tenses up.
Oh. He’s the son.
Tahu puts up a bravado, “Good leaders do not get killed in battle.”
“Good leaders aren’t people who gloat their victories. Good leaders are those who inspire others, who put the needs of others before themselves.”
The lumbering Onua steps forward in between the two.
“Now, now; do I have to treat you two as I did my students?” he chuckles.
“No, I’ve lost interest in debating this matter,” the Ice Toa coldly responds. “However, if the Mangaian ruler is going to lead the team, perhaps Tahu should take some notes from real leaders.”
Kopaka turns heel and walks away. Onua sighs, before slowly following him.
Tahu’s heart is racing.
I can’t tell him. He can’t find out it was me.
“You seem trouble-minded.”
Tahu jumps a little, before turning around. Lewa stands there, concern on her face.
“It’s nothing; just determining what our course of action should be.”
She raises an eyebrow in skepticism. He returns the look.
“What? I said I’m fine.” he growls.
“… If you say so, firespitter.”
Turahk wheezes in pain on the steps of the temple as the Toa walk past him. Tahu looks down at the Mask of Time, the golden object bending reality itself around it. “Now, my fellow Toa, it is time to free this island from these terrible creatures’ reign.” He slowly places the mask upon his face. The other Toa focus their energy onto his being. His vision goes black for a moment. Slowly, glowing strings of white appear in front of him. As he looks closer at them, he can see images of the island, matoran, and even themselves. “This is our timeline,” he muses. Looking to the left, he sees different scenes; older Toa sealing a vault with golden masks, a grimacing skull-faced leviathan in the depths of the sea, even Narmoto fighting Jaller in an arena. To the right he sees fewer scenes. The island unfrozen, the Toa finding golden masks, and- Tahu squints, trying to make out an image. All he can see is two figures with blades fighting in a raging storm. He then looks forward. There are three crystalline structures ascending above him; the bottom is a faded blue gem with smooth edges. The second is a violet amethyst, slowly pulsing with energy. The last is a green fluorite crystal, the insides containing a shifting cosmos. Following the crystals upwards, they end at a large, red mass; an amorphous substance that moves like a liquid. Something in Tahu’s mind begins to hurt, and he forces himself to look away from it. He turns back to the white string in front of him. Hesitantly, he touches the white line. Suddenly, enormous pressure weighs down onto Tahu’s body. Clenching his teeth, he tries sliding his hand to the right. The white line slowly transforms to a blue-ish color and the images and scenes begin to move once more. The violet crystal glows brightly. He pulls his hand away, his head spinning and hands trembling. “I… I did it!” Tahu yells. “G-Get the mask off me!” The blackness fades away as he feels tugs on the side of his face. Suddenly, there’s a bright light. Tahu stumbles a bit and looks around. Gali is holding the Mask of Time, Onua is holding Tahu’s body upright, and the rest are watching with awe and concern. The temple around them is now colored, with the birds chirping in the distance and the wind blowing through the cracks of the walls. Kopaka walks up to him, and holds up his fist. “I was wrong; you’re not too bad, _bróðir,_” he says quietly, an elusive grin on his face. “You saved the island.” Tahu returns with a genuine smile, “No… _we_ saved the island. I wouldn’t have defeated the Rahkshi and made it here without the rest of you.” Tahu clanks his fist with Kopaka’s. “Thank you, brother.” ~~~~~~~~~~~~ It's a few days later. A Mangaian guard watches as a red figure walks to the city’s gate. The figure holds a golden mask in his hand. “Halt!” the guard calls out. “This is the city of Ahi; what is your business here?” Tahu looks up at the guard, determination in his eyes. “I seek Jaller, Ruler of Ahi!” ^^^^^^^^^^^ *"Roundabout" starts playing* <img src="/uploads/db5640/original/3X/a/0/a0434341bcb7029f8d2c767cdbf97be3b112f43a.jpg" width="400" height="108"> Stay Tuned. **-DarkMaestro** **EDIT: PART 2 IS IN THE DISCUSSION BELOW DUE TO SHEER SIZE OF THIS STORY LOL** :weary: