My entry for the Literature portion of the 1st Anniversary Community Contest.
"BIONICLE: Fall From Grace" - known currently as "Corruption" - is an elaboration of the event that changed Okoto history forever. It's a bit long, but I ask that you please don't let that stop you from reading and voting for it. I trust that the few minutes it will take to read my short story will be worth it for you.
Enjoy, and please give your opinions and comments below. Remember to keep my story in mind when voting for the contest!
At first, Ekimu couldn't understand what had happened. He'd entered the forge as he had every other day, ready for a day of work at the anvil. But when he'd arrived, Makuta was nowhere in sight, his hammer still hung up on the wall. Ekimu had gone to his brother's area of the forge, wondering where he'd gotten to, only to notice strange, glimmering sparks covering the ground around Makuta's anvil. They were glowing with power, shining brightly in the flickering colors of the rainbow. When he had run his hands above the embers, Ekimu had drawn it back just as quickly, a wave of terrifying cold passing over him and filling his mind with thoughts of evil. He scrambled to his feet, mystified and scared. And that's when he saw it, just underneath Makuta's anvil.
A golden mask, eyeholes empty and ominous. Makuta's Mask of Control, abandoned.
And so here Ekimu was now, running as hard as his legs could carry him, heading for the source of the storm that now fully erupted around him. Lightning flashed in the blackened sky. The rain splattered against his armor in heavy drops; thunder burst forth from the heavens with each footstep he took, warning him, trying to convince him to go back. But he couldn't. Makuta was gone, and he had done something awful. Streaks of water ran through the holes of his Mask of Creation, blurring his vision as he desperately scanned the horizon for any sign of -
There! Just above the rocky hilltops, not too far from the edge of the city, stood atop the highest hill a figure clad in purple and gold. Ekimu staggered forth, shielding his eyes from the downpour, and shoved himself into the storm's heart. His vision was clearing now as he reached the plain below the hills...
It called to him. Beckoned him to touch it. Pleaded with him, implored him, to bring his face closer. The thunder was deafening, the lightning blinding; yet he could see it all! Every village, every forest, every cavern, every pool of water - the ocean, the Rahi, the sky, the island itself in its entirety. All was there, before him, asking him to rule it all. It was his. He belonged to it. All he had to do was don the mask...
"MAKUTA!" a voice suddenly shouted from within the storm. Makuta nearly dropped the mask he held. Looking up from the object, his eyes darted across the landscape in search of the owner of the voice. There, not but a few meters on the plains below him, stood a golden and blue being. Ekimu. "Ekimu!" Makuta shouted, his voice loud and booming as the thunder. His tone was neither angry nor malicious, but instead sounded relieved. It caught Ekimu off-guard; he stopped in front of the large stony hillside, wary, and afraid of what was transgressing. He took a step forward and shouted in response: "Makuta! Stop!"
Makuta didn't respond at first. Ekimu squinted, trying to read his brother's expression. To his own horror, there was nothing to read - no life in his eyes. Makuta was... dying?
"Makuta!" he shouted again, pain in his voice. He was finding it harder to concentrate, as if the storm was physically leaking his energy. "What are you doing, brother?!"
This time, Makuta returned eye contact with Ekimu. His maskless face was twisted in agony, horror, and chaos - his eyes glowed blood-red. He held up the mask in his hands, stared at it. He then thrust it above his head like some great trophy - for to him it was. "I have done it, brother!" Makuta shouted over the thunder. The mask was burning his hands now, urging him to put it on. He tried to ignore it, so Ekimu - his dear brother - could see. His dear brother...
He faltered slightly as a new wave of pain coursed through his body, legs trembling beneath him. But he kept his strength together so that Ekimu could see, could be proud of him; proud of his accomplishment. He had done it! Done what Ekimu had thought too dangerous and risky - done what his brother had made him swear not to do. It didn't matter, though, because he had done it. He had done it, no one else - he had forged the ultimate mask, not Ekimu, not anyone but him. The Mask of Ultimate Power was his!
Ekimu felt his heart skip a beat as he gazed in horror at the sight above him. Makuta had defied their agreement. Betrayed him. Accomplished a task that would destroy them all. He couldn't wrap his mind around the situation for several seconds, only aware of the thunder crashing above his head.
"Makuta...!" he finally cried in anguish, and in fear for his brother's life. "You know not what you've done! The mask... the mask is too powerful for you! For either of us! YOU KNEW THIS! You - you have doomed us all!"
The smile on Makuta's face disappeared in a flash. He blinked once, then twice at Ekimu's words. The mask is too powerful for you... You have doomed us all...
He nearly fell to his knees again, head swimming with pain and emotion. "NO! No, Ekimu!" he shouted angrily. Why was Ekimu telling him this? Why couldn't he see? "I... I did this for you, Ekimu! For us! The villagers..." His voice suddenly grew low and guttural. "...The villagers don't respect us, brother. They see us as mere magicians, sideshow attractions, even - not as the powerful beings we really are! Not as... not as..."
"Not as what?" Ekimu interrupted, torn with frustration and sorrow. "Not as gods? We are not gods, Makuta... we never have been, we aren't, and we never shall be. We are mere mask makers, protectors of the peace, guardians and guides for the people of Okoto - and that is all! And, first and foremost, Makuta... we are brothers. And that's all we need to be! Now come!"
He thrust his hand forth, gesturing for Makuta to climb down the rock and join him. At the gesture, the storm surged, enraged at the move and ready to fight it. "Come to me, Makuta! Know your destiny - our destiny - as servants, not lords! Throw the mask away, and accept your true destiny!"
Makuta lowered the mask slowly, gazing down at his brother. All of this work - all of this preparation, for nothing? All he wanted was for him and Ekimu to be treated like they should, as higher beings. All he wanted was for Ekimu to be happy, free from the servitude of the villagers. Why wouldn't Ekimu listen? This was his dream... all he ever cared about, except for Ekimu. This power... the strength it would grant... it was inconceivable. As the storm grew even more fierce above him, Makuta's life began to play before his eyes... his childhood, growing up with Ekimu, playing, laughing together, mourning together over their mother's death... serving beside Ekimu in the forge, happy and content...
He would have dropped the mask then. He would have scrambled down the slope as fast as possible and into his younger brother's embrace. He would have gone back to the forge, started over, served as he was meant to, been the mask maker the people needed...
Indeed, he would have - if it weren't for the sudden memory that entered his mind.
A whispered thought, a subtle push. A reminder of the time when Ekimu and Makuta first joined with the Protectors to save Okoto from a deadly threat. They had succeeded... parties were thrown, everybody celebrated... everybody came to Ekimu, bowed respectfully towards him, thanked him for delivering the finishing blow...
And yet... where were your thanks, Makutaaaa? a voice suddenly hissed in Makuta's ear. Did they bring you flowers, bless you with gifts and weeping thanks, as they did with Ekimu? No... because you're less than him. He will always be more than you, Makuta. More powerful, more respected, more pure... better in every way... That is why he wants the mask. He wants you to cast it aside so he may retrieve it later, to use to destroy you - to eliminate the lesser individual. He doesn't care about you, Makuta... he wants you gone. Finished. Look into his eyes, tell me it's not true.
Makuta turned to Ekimu and stared into his brother's blue eyes. He gripped the mask tighter now, a strange feeling deep within his heart beginning to emerge.
Yesss... you've thought these things before, haven't you? I can feel it... I can feel your inner anger, your suppressed jealousy. He's always had more than you, Makuta... and now he wants one final thing. He wants me. Don't let him have me, Makuta... what are you going to do?
Ekimu looked on, unable to hear the unfolding conversation, praying to the Spirits above that Makuta would come back to him.
And then Makuta turned to face him, mask held to his chest. Crimson and black energy pulsed across its surface. Every once and awhile, a ripple of colorful static would sliver across it; but as a whole, the mask remained shadowed and evil.
"Makuta, please..." Ekimu pleaded again, half-consciously realizing that the thunder was beginning to subside. He acted upon it, thinking it a good omen. "Come home, Makuta... don't give into the darkness."
And then... Makuta laughed. The valley shook as an enormous boom of thunder accompanied it, lightning flashing the countryside. The darkness covered the entire land now.
"You... will not take... the mask... from me, 'brother'," he breathed, his voice heavy with hatred. "All I wanted... was for us... to be worshiped. To be happy - together. But... I see through your lies, now..."
He held the mask to the sky and looked into it. Lightning struck directly behind him.
"'Give into the darkness'?" he growled, the wind now deathly silent. "I am the darkness."
Makuta turned his back on his brother and slammed the mask onto his face, roaring in both pain and power as its energies overwhelmed him. The sky exploded into pieces, thunder and lightning consuming the heavens as a wicked laughter filled the air. Ekimu looked on, tears in his eyes, as his beloved brother gave into the temptation, the corruption, and the power.
No. He couldn't let this happen. Okoto needed him now, and if that meant having to destroy his own brother... then he would make the sacrifice.
Hammer in hand, Ekimu charged forward, screaming a chilling battle cry as he reached the hillside and began to climb. Lightning darted from the clouds above to try and strike the mask maker, who in turn swung his mighty hammer in an attempt to deflect the bolts. The rainfall was heavy enough to shove Ekimu from the very hillside, and it made climbing even more dangerous. But Ekimu ignored the deafening thunder, the slipperiness of the stone crevices, the growing exhaustion and pain within him. He continued to climb the shallow, rocky slope, praying that he would make it before the lightning got him... or before his brother did.
In just a few minutes, Makuta's body had increased tenfold in size, the raw energy overwhelming his every circuit. "THE POWER!" he roared, fingers arched and spine bent nearly in half as he absorbed it all into his very being. "I CAN FEEL THE ULTIMATE POWER! IT IS MINE TO CREATE... AND TO CONTROOOOL!!!"
Makuta felt a presence behind him, suddenly, and whirled around. There stood Ekimu, drenched, armor charred in places from lightning strikes. His hammer glowed brightly in his hands. "It's not too late, Makuta," he croaked, weakened from the effort of the climb. "There is still... good in you! I know there is!!"
Makuta clenched his fists and loomed over Ekimu, his body becoming one with the storm. The power of the mask still flowed, each element bonding with and gracing him with its power. As the storm grew to its climax, Makuta said his final words, in a voice no longer belonging to him.
"Let there be darkness."
He thrust his enormous hand towards Ekimu, a charge of red shadow energy ready to blast him into sizzling oblivion. But before it could even be released, Ekimu's own attack was already underway, hammer swinging up in an arc directly towards Makuta's face. It connected, and Ekimu slammed his eyes shut. Makuta didn't even have time to take a last breath.
A sound like the universe's largest gong being struck erupted across the island, smoke blew forth, lightning fell and thunder died... and then all was silent.
Narmoto paused for a breath, his heart beating excitedly. He had told this story an infinite number of times since gaining his father's position of Protector of Fire and leader of the Village of Fire... and yet, it never ceased to get his adrenaline flowing.
The impatient youths in front of him leaned forward from their spots on the dirt floor of the small hut, bright blue eyes wide with anticipation. They'd heard this story nearly as many times as Narmoto had told it, and yet never grew tired. With a heavy sigh, the Protector continued.
"And... that was it. The Protectors - my father, and the fathers of the other Protectors today - went out after the storm cleared, for they were afraid to leave their tribes alone, and discovered the mask-less body of Ekimu, lying in a crater in the ground below the hills. There was no sign of Makuta. And it was thus, that the wisest being to ever step foot on our island was forced into the Forever Sleep... and so ended the Age of Masks. The End."
The children looked around at each other, some awestruck, some sad, some looking bored. After a long, quiet moment, all rose to their feet, gave a simultaneous bow and a "thank you for speaking, Protector", and filed out of the hut, whispering among themselves in excited tones.
Narmoto watched them leave, his heart heavy. Telling the story was very important, of course - it kept history alive. But it always left the Protector feeling depressed and helpless, unsure of the world around him. He sat in meditation for many minutes, the rich aroma of solekberry surrounding and comforting him with the smoke of the fire.
A gong sounded from outside. Narmoto rose to his feet, grabbed his firestaff, and hobbled out of the hut.
Thank you for reading! Again, please comment and critique below.