Finally, 3 months in the making, here’s a fanfiction I’ve been wanting to release for a long time…
One quick question before I start: @Waj Can I release chapters in separate posts, i.e., Chapter 1 in one post, Chapter 2 in another?
Finally, 3 months in the making, here’s a fanfiction I’ve been wanting to release for a long time…
One quick question before I start: @Waj Can I release chapters in separate posts, i.e., Chapter 1 in one post, Chapter 2 in another?
Considering the longest running fanfic on the boards was like that, yes.
Wait, separate topics or separate posts
Separate posts. It would be overkill with multiple topics and would look like I was just looking for attention
Yep, you can make separate posts for the chapters- although, if you have the chapters already written I’d advise just putting them all in one post so as to not overcrowd the topic. Then for any further chapters written, you can make new posts.
Alrighty then, thanks!
Makuta stepped back, holding his hammer threateningly as the skull-like being lurched towards him. “Stay back! I’m warning you!” he called, but his voice was shaking. He knew the thing could sense his fear. It knew he was afraid.
Before Makuta could react, another huge skeletal figure shot out of the sand, twitching its tail and hissing. Makuta’s eyes widened in growing terror. “G-go away!” he cried. Slowly, the two beings began to move toward the mask-maker, closer, and closer…
Ekimu woke up with a start. What was that sound? he wondered. Getting out of bed, he looked around the forge to see what could have made such a noise. Wait, no, not just a noise, Ekimu realized. That sounded like… My brother?!
Ekimu quickly ran over to Makuta’s room, where he found his brother huddled in the corner of his bed, eyes wide. “Makuta, are you alright?” he whispered. Makuta didn’t answer but continued staring into space. Ekimu closed his eyes and held his brother tight. “There, there, your brother’s here now,” Ekimu said soothingly. “It’ll be alright… It’ll be alright…”
“So you don’t remember anything at all?” asked Ekimu, banging his hammer on another piece of metal.
“No, I don’t,” Makuta answered. He lifted an energy crystal to the light to make sure it was pure. “But if what you said about last night is true, I don’t think I want to remember.”
“True.” Ekimu examined the metal closely with his tongs. “I think this mask is ready. Jungle crystals?”
Makuta nodded, glad to change the subject. He grabbed a small handful of green crystals and put them into the hand of Ekimu, who nodded with a quick “thanks” and placed the crystals onto the soon-to-be-mask in a specific pattern. Closing his eyes, Ekimu then began to concentrate. As his mask began to glow, so did the metal. While Ekimu used his mask power, Makuta turned away to shield his eyes from the light. He was proud his brother was perfect at masks. Doesn’t have to put any work into it either, Makuta thought. He just makes his mask glow, and out comes a perfect mask! Man, would I want a power like that. Say… if he has a mask power, why don’t I have one? Both our masks are—
“This will do,” Ekimu said, breaking Makuta’s train of thought. Ekimu then dunked the new mask into a vat of water, sending steam fizzling out of it. He stretched his arms out and leaned back. “Anyway,” said Ekimu at length, “I’d say we’ve worked enough this morning. How about we take a lunch break?”
It took a second for Makuta to realize his brother was talking to him. “What? Oh right, sure.”
Ekimu got up and began to put away his tools. “You go ahead and get something to eat. I’ll clean up for you.”
“Thanks, Ekimu,” Makuta replied, and quickly walked out of the forge. But his mind wasn’t focused on lunch.
Perhaps I do have a mask power, he thought as he walked, but I just don’t know how to use it. But if that’s so, then what’s my power? It could be the same power as Ekimu, and I suppose that would make sense, but… what if there’s more to it than that?
Makuta then realized he was about to walk into a wall.
The mask-maker frowned. “Out of the way, wall,” he muttered. But his annoyance became shock when his mask began to glow with some form of internal illumination. The wall, too, began to glow, and it simply moved aside, as if it had been just waiting for Makuta to ask. Then, it ceased glowing.
Makuta’s mouth was gaping open. “Did… did I do that?!” he gasped. He felt his mask and stared, first at his hands, then at the wall. “I… I did that,” he realized. “I actually did that!”
From the forge, Ekimu heard Makuta crying out again. “What?” he wondered. He ran to the forge door and looked over the city to find a figure, his brother, whooping and jumping with joy, punching the air and… hugging a wall?
Ekimu hurried down the steps to meet Makuta, who, when he caught sight of Ekimu, ran over to him and hugged him closely. Ekimu was caught off guard by this, to say the least.
“I HAVE POWER!” Makuta cried in ecstasy. “MY MASK! IT FINALLY WORKS!”
“You, er— what?” Ekimu said, startled.
Makuta let go of Ekimu, still excited. “My mask… You know, mask power thing you have… I have it, too!”
Ekimu was taken back. “That’s… Wow, I don’t know what to say, Makuta! Except, perhaps, one thing… is that why you were hugging a wall?”
Makuta glanced at the wall, then laughed a little. “Yes, I used my mask on it! It’s amazing!”
Ekimu raised an eyebrow. “That wall has been there for years… although I must say, I remembered it being a meter or two to the left…”
“Oh, no, I don’t have the mask of Creation like you,” Makuta said, holding up his hands in dismissal. “It’s even better than that! I have a mask of… controlling things, I think.”
“A mask of Control, you say?” Ekimu put a hand to his chin in thought and nodded. “Yes, that would make sense, given the way you are.”
A few villagers behind Makuta snickered. “What’s that supposed to mean, Ekimu?” Makuta asked in a dangerously soft voice.
“Oh no, I didn’t mean anything offensive!” Ekimu said quickly. “I just thought you’d have some fun with that mask power, you know?”
Makuta’s eyes narrowed. “I understand completely. Thank you, brother.”
Ekimu smiled faintly. “It’s nothing. Well, meet me at Junak’s.”
“Of course I will,” Makuta said coolly. As Ekimu left, Makuta turned away. Why doesn’t he like my power? he wondered. He didn’t look happy, he just looked surprised. He’s… he must be jealous of this power. Why, he must want it for himself!
“Master Makuta, are you feeling okay?” asked a young villager, breaking Makuta’s train of thought.
He scowled. “Leave me alone,” he growled. “I’m trying to think.”
“Geez,” muttered an older Okotan. “For someone with the mask of Control, he sure doesn’t have that much self control!”
Makuta clenched his fists. The two villagers stepped back cautiously as his mask began to glow. “I said… leave me… ALONE!!”
Both Okotans’ joints suddenly locked into place, and began to move against their will. Makuta continued concentrating until he had moved them out of his sight. He sighed. Perhaps he shouldn’t have done that. But still, it felt good to him. It felt good to have power.
It felt good to be in control.
His eyes opened on the glare of an endless desert plain. After several minutes of walking, with no real understanding of where he was or why, he almost tripped over the bleached carcass of a huge rahi, mostly buried in the sand. Then he saw another. As he proceeded he continued to see more and more skeletons of long-dead rahi, all bleached white and stripped of any fur down to their gleaming bones. His eyes no longer heeding the path he walked, he tripped on a skull and fell into the sand that opened like a famished mouth to swallow him, drawing him down, down, down…
“Agh!” grunted Makuta as he landed. He looked around and found himself in some sort of cave. The walls were covered in writing of his own language; but it must have been quite old, since he could not read it. Makuta closed his eyes and tried to focus. What was going on here? Where was he? It was almost impossible to think.
Suddenly, Makuta heard a rattling sound and turned around. He hoped he was just overreacting, and that it was just a small snake.
It wasn’t just a small snake.
Makuta ran over to a corner of the room, where he found his own hammer. Without thinking about how it got there, he quickly grabbed it and held it out threateningly to the skeletal monster. “Stay back!” he yelled at it. There was no fear in his voice this time. “I’ve got problems, but a lack of force isn’t one of them!”
With those words, he charged at the skeleton, roaring in defiance as he crashed his hammer onto the being. But as soon as his hammer hit the skull being, it dissolved into shadows. Makuta smiled, his eyes narrowed. “That’s what you get for picking on a mask maker,” he chuckled.
But his feeling of triumph was short-lived, becoming dread as the room grew darker. It was almost as if the light itself was being swallowed up by some invisible monster, with an insatiable desire to feed.
Makuta jumped as a booming voice suddenly echoed across the room. Oh, what’s wrong? It asked teasingly. It sounded chilling and scratchy, like gravel falling into a metal tank. Scared of the dark? A cold, mirthless laugh filled the room, sending a shiver down Makuta’s spine. Still chuckling, it then said, you’re more pathetic than I thought.
Makuta got his nerve back at that sentence. He tried to say that he wasn’t scared, and that the voice—along with whoever it belonged to—couldn’t hurt him. But the words caught in his throat somehow; all that came out was a whisper. He couldn’t even move. That’s when Makuta realized: only a dream could do that.
The voice laughed again. Ah, so now you’ve figured it out. Yes, this is just a dream. But I’ll be here next time, and the time after that, and so on…
Makuta gritted his teeth. “So? That doesn’t matter! This is all just in my head!”
Of course I’m in your head, the voice sneered. But that doesn’t mean I’m not real…
A new voice suddenly called out from the darkness. “Makuta?”
I have to leave, the voice said. But you won’t forget me. I won’t let you.
“Makuta! Brother, wake up!”
Makuta jerked awake to see Ekimu shaking his shoulders. “Ek… Ekimu?” he murmured.
“Good, you’re awake,” Ekimu sighed in relief. “Makuta, I could hear you all the way from my room. What’s wrong?”
“Er—nothing,” Makuta said quickly. “Just a nightmare, that’s all.”
“Again?” Ekimu gave Makuta a confused look. “Maybe there’s a reason for that. Do you know something that could contribute to this? Anything?”
“Puberty?” Makuta said pathetically.
Ekimu stared at Makuta for many seconds. Then, they both burst out laughing.
“Yes, I guess that would do it,” Ekimu said, struggling to regain his composure. “But I’m pretty sure you’ve already reached adulthood, no?”
“No, I’m still just a little boy that’ll never grow up,” Makuta chuckled, and both of them laughed once more. But the sentence Makuta had said began to reverberate in his mind, along with many other things he had heard. For someone with the mask of Control, he sure doesn’t have that much self control… scared of the dark… pathetic… just a little boy that’ll never grow up…
Makuta closed his eyes, trying to rid his mind of the thoughts that were now screaming the words.
“Well, we’ve got lots of work to do tomorrow,” Ekimu sighed. “Well, goodnight, Makuta.”
As Ekimu left for his own bed, Makuta sighed. I shouldn’t have lied, he thought guiltily. I should have told him about my dream… what was it about again? I know it had sand… a beach? Desert? Possible. Then there were some strange beings I had to fight, but what were they…? Then I remember shadows, yes, and then a voice… that voice… not like any voice I’ve heard… I remember something it said… “You won’t forget me…” But I want to forget…
Makuta stared up at the ceiling. “I’ll never be able to sleep,” he muttered. “Not after that.” He sat up and placed his head in his hands, eyes closed. If only I could control my dreams. Then I wouldn’t have to… Wait, hold on a minute. His eyes opened. I have the Mask of Control, don’t I? And if I could command a wall to move, surely I can do something to that voice, can’t I?
Makuta lay down in his bed, closed his eyes, and prepared to dive once more into the mysterious realm of dreams.
He was on a cliff overlooking the sea. He watched the waves crash against the cold rocks and felt the calm breeze blowing against his armor. Closing his eyes, he stretched out his arms to take in the wind and sea spray.
Suddenly, he heard a shuffling sound behind him. He turned around to see his brother. When his brother saw him, he waved and called his name. “Makuta! Take a look at this!”
Makuta smiled, nodded and began to run over to Ekimu. But before he could meet up with his brother, the ground suddenly began to shake and crumble. With a loud crack the cliff face began to fall away; but Makuta was still on it! Desperately he ran for the stable ground and took a giant leap. He managed to grab onto a ledge with one hand. Glancing down for a second, he turned back to his brother. He tried to cry out for help, but he found he couldn’t find even a whisper in himself. Ekimu had turned from Makuta and was walking away. Finally, Makuta found his voice. “Help me, Ekimu!”
He saw Ekimu stop and watched him slowly walk towards him. Makuta breathed a sigh of relief. But when he met up with his brother, Ekimu smiled coldly. “B… Brother?” Makuta whispered.
Slowly, Ekimu held out a hand. “I’ll help you, all right,” he said, narrowing his eyes. Makuta reached out for his hand gratefully, but Ekimu quickly shot it back. “Did I say, ‘help you’?” he laughed. “I must have misspoken. What I really meant was, ‘help everyone else’!”
And with that, Ekimu struck Makuta across the face, forcing him to lose his grip on the ledge and fall, down, down, down into the murky depths of the unforgiving sea.
Makuta had no idea how long he was out. All he knew was that he was on the ocean floor. Getting up and looking around, he found he was in some sort of sea temple. There was a stone statue a few meters ahead.
Makuta stepped closer to the statue. Upon closer inspection, it appeared to have scratch marks all over it. Makuta narrowed his eyes and looked intently at the scratches. They weren’t natural. They were made on purpose.
Makuta looked up at the statue’s face. It bore a striking resemblance to a skull. He then finally remembered what he had come across in his dream: A skeleton.
The moment the thought came into his mind, he suddenly turned around to find almost a dozen skeletal creatures slowly lurching towards him. Makuta’s eyes widened. But then, he realized: They couldn’t hurt him. Not if he didn’t want them to.
Makuta planted his feet in the ground and allowed rage to enter into him, filling him with power. They dare to threaten him?!
He held up a hand in confidence and felt his mask begin to glow. Immediately the skeletons began to glow as well, and they all froze, still as stone.
Carefully, Makuta formed his hand into a fist. “Tear yourselves apart!” he commanded. Almost instantly the skeletons began fighting against each other. Makuta leaned back against the statue to watch the battle. But his heart missed a beat when he realized he wasn’t leaning on a statue.
Not a wise course of action, a familiar voice said. You know, destroying a possible army.
Makuta jumped back. “You!” he gasped.
Yes, it’s me, the figure said. He was a humanoid skeleton, with red-and-black armor. Two gunmetal-black horns adorned his head, and in his hand was a giant hooked staff.
Makuta managed to push back his shock. “Okay, cut to the quick. Who are you, and why do you keep haunting my dreams?”
Keep haunting your dreams? The skeleton snorted. My friend, This is only the second time I’ve been here. And to answer your first question, my name is Kulta.
Makuta blinked. “My father knew a Kulta once,” he thought aloud.
That he did, before he stabbed me in the chest and threw me off a cliff, Kulta replied bluntly.
Kulta held up both hands in dismissal. My boy, you take things too literally. We were good friends for a long time. We were inseparable… emphasis on “were.” See, this beautiful, talented young woman—your mother—entered the picture. Soon, it became less “Kulta and company,” and more “Ekuta and Makimu.” Then, after the two of them finally made it official, it felt like he’d thrown me off a cliff by abandoning the friendship we’d shared for so long. And everyone I’d known never liked me, anyway, so I decided to make my little cliff analogy literal. Kulta stretched his arm over his head in mock drama. And so here I am, forever trapped at the bottom of the sea.
Makuta closed his eyes and shook his head. “Why?” he asked.
Ah, that is a question I ask myself too often, Kulta sighed. The only good part about being dead is that I don’t have to breathe anymore, which is useful when you’re a hundred meters underwater. Speaking of which, how can you hold your breath for so long?
Makuta suddenly realized his lungs were screaming for air. He jumped up and started to swim upwards. He heard Kulta say something, but he couldn’t hear. He could make it if he tried hard enough, right? He just had to believe… But no… he couldn’t hold his breath much longer… spots were appearing before his eyes… It was too late… too late…
“Too late… too late…” Makuta mumbled.
“I’ll say it’s too late,” Ekimu said, shaking his brother’s shoulders. “You’ve been sleeping in for over an hour! Go on, get up!”
Makuta woke up completely. Scowling, he pushed his brother out of the way and stood up. “I’m awake, I’m awake,” he muttered.
Ekimu folded his arms. “Someone’s salty today!”
“Yeah, and he’s my brother!” Makuta shot back. Then, he took a deep breath and sighed. “Sorry,” he muttered. “I’m just tired. Don’t take it personally.”
Ekimu’s expression softened slightly, but he was still frowning. “You’ve had another dream, haven’t you?”
Makuta narrowed his eyes. “So what if I did?”
“Don’t forget that if they worry you, you can always tell me about them,” Ekimu suggested.
Like I’ll ever do that, Makuta thought stubbornly. He turned back to Ekimu and put a hand to his head. “Hey, could I take a break this morning? I don’t feel so good.”
Ekimu smiled. “Of course, Makuta. I understand.”
No, you don’t, Makuta thought as Ekimu walked out. And I want it to stay that way.
After making the back door open for him, Makuta walked outside. Looking around, he saw that everyone was working on their own projects and chores, paying no heed to him. Usually Makuta would be annoyed at this—he was a mask maker, after all—but he nodded in satisfaction. This was the perfect time to make a getaway. To walk away from it all, to concentrate, to meditate… and to think.
Quickly ducking into an alleyway, Makuta sneaked past a few houses and gardens. As soon as he had gotten past most of the buildings, he began to make a break for the bridge that kept him separated from the rest of the world. But at the exit, Makuta gave himself a mental slap in the face. He hadn’t accounted for the guard.
The Protector of Fire blinked in surprise when he spotted Makuta. “Shouldn’t you be back at the forge, Master Makuta?” he asked curiously.
“Actually, Mamuk, I don’t have to be there at the moment,” Makuta corrected. “I happen to be taking the morning off.”
“The morning off?” Mamuk looked skeptical, but nodded. “And if I may ask, where are you going?”
Does he interrogate everyone like this? Makuta thought exasperatedly. “At the mountains just east of here,” he said. “There’s a camp over there, and I plan to stay there most of the morning.”
The Protector of Fire nodded. “Very well. You may pass.”
“Thank you.” Makuta started to walk across, then paused. “Could you let Ekimu know I’m going there?” He gets so paranoid I have to let him know every little step I take, he added in his head.
“I shall, Master Makuta,” Mamuk replied. As he walked off, Makuta shook his head and made his way across the gateway. Now then, what was that dream about? Makuta thought as he walked along the dirt path. I’m pretty sure I was underwater… no, on a cliff. Yes, I was standing on a cliff… when Ekimu did something to me… but what? I remember this, I know I do…
Shaking his head to clear it, Makuta sat down upon a rock and leaned back. He closed his eyes and envisioned himself back on that cliff. He was stretching his arms out to enjoy the breeze, when something must have caused him to slip. He had grabbed onto the ledge and called for help, and his brother…
The scene in his head collapsed like a pricked balloon as Makuta’s eyes snapped open. That’s what had happened. Ekimu had pushed him off.
Makuta felt his face grow hotter. Ekimu, his own brother, didn’t just refuse helping him; he had kicked him off the forsaken cliff!
He grabbed his satchel with unnecessary force. He was getting out of this place. But just as he stood up, another thought emerged. Something ingenious. Something clever. Something that would force his brother against the entire island.
Makuta grinned from beneath his mask of Control.
“Ah, Makuta! Back so soon?” Ekimu waved at his brother, who was just entering.
“Yes, I feel a lot better,” Makuta replied, grinning.
Ekimu was slightly startled at Makuta’s smile. “You definitely look better!” he exclaimed. He then added quickly, “That is, not that you looked particularly bad before.”
Makuta shook his head. “I understand completely,” he said mildly. “Anyway, I had an idea, and I was wondering if you could help me with it.”
Ekimu seemed puzzled, but nodded. “Sure. What is it you need my help for?”
Makuta closed his eyes. “I just want you to relax.”
Ekimu cocked his head. “Right now?”
Makuta’s violet eyes opened. “Yes. Right now.”
Ekimu inhaled sharply as his limbs stiffened and froze in place. Makuta smiled and allowed his mask to radiate further. “Get those villagers,” he ordered. Ekimu shakily nodded, then grabbed a torch off the wall and stormed out of the forge.
The first part of Makuta’s plan was complete. He sat down on a bench. And laughed.
Ekimu’s eyes fluttered open. “Ohh, my head,” he groaned, putting a hand to his mask. He looked around, wondering where he was. Then, his eyes widened, and he instantly wished he hadn’t looked.
Almost the entire town was holding pitchforks, clubs or other weapons threateningly. Some even had swords or blasters. And they were all pointing at the mask maker.
“Merciful heavens—what is all this?” Ekimu gasped, quickly raising his arms in surrender.
One villager poked at him with a spear. “You know full well what ‘all this’ is,” the villager hissed.
“No, I—I swear I have no idea what’s going—ow!” Ekimu was cut off by another jab with the spear.
“Zip it, mask melter!” another villager spat. “You’re just trying to trick us!” The other Okotans raised their weapons and roared in agreement. Try as Ekimu did to protest, the villagers only yelled louder.
Ekimu felt he might go deaf if this kept up. Raising his voice over the angry mob, he cried out, “COULD SOMEBODY TELL ME WHAT’S GOING ON?!”
There was a sudden dead silence. The villagers gazed at the mask maker, who was recovering his breath after yelling so loudly.
A young boy, no older than six years old, managed to push past the other villagers. He looked up into Ekimu’s eyes with an incredulous look. “You got crazy and hit some people,” he said quietly. “You were bad.”
Ekimu’s eyes widened. “I did what?” The mask maker looked over the crowd and at the clearing he was in. There he saw pillars that shot out of the ground in random places, with an unconscious Okotan near one. A hut was on fire. A villager near it was trying to put out the fire with a bucket of water.
Ekimu looked at the crowd, who continued to stare. He then said, “Come now, you know me. I would never do a thing like this. But still, if it makes you feel safer…” He sighed and held his hands forward. “Tie up my wrists, take off my mask; gods, put me in the jailhouse if you feel the need. I hope then you will believe me.”
The villagers blinked in surprise. Then, most of them began to put away their weapons. One stone villager stepped forward cautiously with some rope, grabbed the mask maker’s wrists, and quickly bound them. “I’m so sorry if you really are yourself now,” she said quietly. Then she, along with three other Okotans, led Ekimu away.
Ekimu looked up weakly, hearing approaching footsteps. Someone was running toward his cell.
He saw Makuta skid to a stop. The brother looked absolutely horrified. “I came as fast as I could,” he gasped. “Ekimu, what happened? The others are telling me you went insane and set a house on fire!”
Ekimu managed to sit up. After taking a shaky breath, he said, “I… I am afraid this is true. I don’t remember any of it happening—”
“Then they have no proof!” Makuta said desperately. “If you don’t remember it, then you didn’t do it… right?”
Ekimu shook his maskless head. “I’m afraid they do have proof. The house that was on fire is in ashes now, and the torch was next to me when I became conscious.
“As well, there are pillars sticking out of the ground in random spots. They weren’t there last time, and the designs on them are my own. One of the pillars even hit someone.” The mask maker sighed and sat down. “It only makes sense I should be here.”
“But…” Makuta held up a finger to protest, but sighed and put his hand down. “I still don’t believe you’d do such a thing,” he said, shaking his head.
Ekimu smiled feebly at Makuta’s faith in him. “Thank you, brother,” he said softly.
Makuta nodded, with an expression of—amusement? Ekimu couldn’t tell. “Any time. How long will you be here?”
“I honestly don’t know,” Ekimu sighed, looking at the ground. “Nobody’s told me. Probably a half-cycle, if I’m lucky.”
Makuta’s eyes widened. “That long?”
“Afraid s-so…” After he said this, Ekimu’s eyes flickered. He fell backwards against the stone wall, sending a loud thudding sound echoing through the area.
Makuta gasped. “Ekimu?!”
Ekimu closed his eyes, putting a hand to his head. “Sorry, Makuta… just that I’m…” He sighed, allowing his arm to limply drop at his side. “I’m so weak…”
“I could make a mask for you,” Makuta suggested.
Ekimu looked up to his brother, slightly startled. “You would?”
Makuta smiled. “Of course I would, Ekimu. I’m your brother. I would do anything for you.”
“And likewise for you,” Ekimu replied. Again, he thought he saw Makuta’s eyes light up with entertainment for a second, but dismissed it.
Makuta took a deep breath and sighed. “Well, I’m going off to make that mask. Take care, Ekimu.”
“I’ll try, brother.” As Makuta walked off, Ekimu closed his eyes. “I’ll try.”
CRANG. CRANG. The sound of Makuta’s hammer banging down on the mask he was creating reverberated throughout the forge. Makuta’s eyes narrowed in concentration. He was making a mask, and it was going to last.
After a few more well-practiced strikes, Makuta picked up the distorted metal with his tongs. It glowed bright orange. Nodding in satisfaction, he concentrated on moving the very particles of the metal to be in a specific shape. Slowly, the metal seemed to fold in on itself, twist its very nature into whatever shape Makuta desired.
As soon as Makuta relaxed, there in front of him stood a perfectly shaped mask. He was tempted to feel its smooth surface with his hand, then remembered it was still red-hot. “Right,” he muttered.
He quickly dunked the metal into a vat of water, making steam shoot out from the water. A satisfying hiss escaped the metal as it rapidly cooled down.
Pulling the newly-formed mask out of the water, Makuta looked over it intently. It had a warm golden color. No major warps or malformations. Good. Sure, there was a small dent on the left side of the mask’s crest, but that didn’t matter. Ekimu would still be stronger with the mask than without it.
After looking over it one last time, Makuta nodded, satisfied, and put the mask into his satchel. He then walked outside to the forge’s courtyard where he found the gardener hard at work with growing crops.
“Ah, Lenzo,” Makuta greeted. “What are you doing?”
The groundskeeper jumped slightly at his name being called. “Oh, uh—just trying to grow some fruit, Master Makuta. The trees aren’t being very cooperative, that’s all.”
“Uncooperative, you say?” Makuta stroked his chin in thought. “I might be able to help you with that sometime. But not now. Where’s Ekimu?”
Lenzo blinked. “You haven’t heard? This morning he set a hut on fire! Right now he’s in—”
“Ah, I remember now,” Makuta said, waving a hand. “Sorry, I tend to forget unimpor… that is, forget at inopportune moments. Do forgive me.”
“No worries,” Lenzo replied, looking back at the fruit tree. “Happens to the best of us. Anyway, what did you want to see Ekimu—sorry, Master Ekimu—for? Or can you not tell me?”
“I figured he would be weak from being maskless for so long,” Makuta said. He pulled out the mask from his satchel. “I also figured,” he continued as he brushed some dust off the mask, “that this mask here would help him.”
Lenzo nodded, not turning his eyes from the tree. “Yeah, a mask would definitely help him. You know where the jailhouse is, right? Just behind—”
“The coliseum, I know.” Makuta put the mask back into the bag. “Well, I’ll be off, then. Take care.”
“And the same to you, Master Makuta,” Lenzo replied, turning to the mask maker to salute. But Makuta was already out of sight.
(The char limit was 30,000, so that’s why this is in another post.)
“I’m here,” said Makuta as he stopped by Ekimu’s cell.
Ekimu’s eyes flickered open. He faced toward Makuta, but his gaze was unfocused. “M… Makuta? Is that you?”
“Of course it is,” said Makuta softly. He sat down outside the cell and looked at his brother, who was lying down. For some reason, he found it amusing to see Ekimu, the so-called, “best mask maker in a thousand years,” barely conscious in a jail cell.
Makuta managed to turn a chuckle into a sigh. “So,” he said, “has anyone told you when you’ll be out of this dump?”
Ekimu’s eyes lit up faintly. “Oh yes, the jailer did just an hour ago. He said I’d be free in only two weeks!”
“Curses,” Makuta muttered under his breath.
Ekimu blinked in surprise. “What did you say?”
Makuta realized he’d said his thoughts aloud. He thought quickly. “Oh, just that two weeks is still such a long time; not to mention time seems to pass slower down here.”
Ekimu looked down, sighed and nodded. “Yes, that’s true…” He coughed. “Speaking of which, what time is it?”
Makuta thought for a second. “About an hour until sundown. Oh yes, I just remembered! I’m finished with that mask!”
Ekimu smiled. “Great. May I see?”
“Of course. You’re going to be wearing it for quite a while, after all.” Makuta reached into his satchel and got out the mask.
Ekimu’s eyes lit up as he was handed the mask through the bars. “Amazing! This may be your best mask yet!”
In other words, it’s mediocre, Makuta thought. “Hurry up, put it on!” he said a little too forcefully.
Ekimu looked up in slight surprise at Makuta’s bluntness, but quickly said, “Of course, of course,” and put on the mask. His eyes closed as he felt the pleasure of the mask’s energy flooding into his weak body. “Ahh…” he sighed.
Sitting up, he smiled at Makuta. “Thank you so much, brother. How can I ever repay you?”
“By staying out of trouble, perhaps?” Makuta said with a touch of amusement in his voice.
“I sure won’t try to,” joked Ekimu.
“How about you try not to?” Makuta smirked.
“And now you’re starting to sound like me,” Ekimu said, throwing his hands in the air in mock exasperation. And they both laughed.
That was fun, thought Makuta as he walked out the jail’s doors. But he shook his head sharply. No, it wasn’t, he told himself. All I did was carry out the second part of my plan by earning his trust. I’ve got to complete the rest… but first I need a disguise.
Makuta then took off at a brisk walk. He felt energized by how wonderfully his plan was coming along, and as such the forge felt closer than he thought it was.
As he walked in, he uncovered the lightstones, which lit up the room with a warm glow. Makuta looked around for a second, then found his quarry: a wooden trunk. He remembered he used to play in it with Ekimu when they were children. I also remember when he locked me into that thing, he thought begrudgingly. All the more reason for him to get what he deserves.
After smashing the lock with his mask—he didn’t want to waste any time finding the key—he opened the trunk. There he found a play-mask, a small metal figurine, a brown cloak—that will come in handy, Makuta thought—and a dull, wooden sword. The green paint on it had faded and chipped away long ago, revealing the grayish brown underneath. Makuta closed his eyes, letting himself remember more clearly he and his brother’s fun as they played together…
“Hey, Makuta! Bet ya can’t get on this thing yourself!”
“Oh, yeah?” Makuta called back to Ekimu. “I bet I can!” He then tried to jump up to the edge of the stone wall, but promptly fell back down.
Ekimu giggled from above. “Told ya! Need a hand?”
“No, I can do this!” Makuta said. But try as he might, the boy couldn’t get up that wall. “Fine,” he grumbled, holding out a hand. Ekimu laughed, took it, and pulled his little brother up.
“Nice view, huh?” Ekimu said, looking out to the horizon. Then, his eyes widened and he jumped in excitement. “Oh! I gotta idea! Wanna race?”
Makuta’s eyes lit up. “Yeah yeah! Let’s race!”
Ekimu grinned. “Okay!” He then got into position and announced the countdown excruciatingly slowly. “Fiiiive… fouurr… thththree-two-one-GO!” He then took off immediately.
“Hey, no fair!” Makuta called as he ran to catch up with his brother.
The two brothers raced across the city wall surprisingly fast. It was a sight to see them as the suns set: two sillouettes running in front of two immense planets, which rose higher and higher as the stars began to appear.
“Go slower, Ekimu!” Makuta yelled.
Ekimu looked back and laughed. “Try 'n make me!”
“Fine!” After he said this, Makuta managed to run even faster. He tried to ignore the pain from his sore legs. He was going to go faster than Ekimu, whether the older brother liked it or not.
Finally, he ran right up to Ekimu. Reaching out an arm, he shoved Ekimu behind him, propelling himself forward at the same time.
Ekimu stumbled and almost fell off the bridge. “You cheater!” he shouted.
Makuta giggled. “You cheated fir-rst!” he said in a sing-song voice. Ekimu scowled and ran yet faster.
Makuta realized his brother would catch up with him if he didn’t do anything. If Makuta wanted to win this race, he needed to quicken his pace, and fast.
Tensing up his muscles and trying his best to ignore his fatigue, he forced himself to run still faster. But no, he could still hear his brother’s footsteps growing louder.
“I’m gonna win this!” Ekimu called to Makuta, who jumped at the sound. He hadn’t expected Ekimu to be nearly that close.
“Wanna bet?” he yelled back.
Ekimu grinned. “Yeah! I’m gonna win”—he moved closer to Makuta—“and you”—he put his fists together—“CAN’T STOP ME!”
With that, Ekimu thrust his arms upward and straight into Makuta’s chin. Makuta cried out in pain and staggered backwards. He was so stunned he didn’t realize where he was about to fall— until it was too late.
Time seemed to slow down as he fell from the ten-meter-high wall. The last thing he remembered was Ekimu screaming his name: “MAKUTA!”
Makuta’s clenched fist was shaking. Sure, that was twenty years ago, maybe even more. Ekimu must have long forgotten. But Makuta… he remembered that fateful day like it was yesterday. And he wasn’t going to forget any time soon.
Makuta donned the cloak. Though it was old, and had a strange, musty smell, it fit him well and was surprisingly warm. But this won’t disguise me enough, he realized. My mask is a dead giveaway.
Looking around, he found a spare mask. It was a mask of Earth. The black will camouflage me at night, Makuta thought, but not without some black armor to match. Luckily, he found some black armor in a nearby bin. It fit him perfectly.
Makuta put his own mask in his satchel. It would still be useful, at any rate.
Makuta jumped and turned his head. His eyes widened. It was Mamuk, Protector of Fire. The Protector stomped forward and grabbed onto Makuta’s arm. “Why were you looking around in the mask makers’ belongings?” he spat.
Makuta tried to shake his arm free, but Mamuk’s grasp was too hard. “If you must know, I was preparing.”
“Preparing.” Mamuk looked unconvinced. “Yeah, not taking it. Hand over the satchel.”
Makuta blinked. “What?”
“The satchel,” Mamuk repeated more forcefully. “Now.”
Makuta tensed up, but haltingly took off his satchel with his free hand. Mamuk quickly snatched it and opened it. He gasped. “Makuta’s mask?!” In a blink, Mamuk had dropped the bag and grabbed Makuta just below his neck. “What have you done with the mask maker?” he growled, gritting his teeth.
“I—I’ve done nothing!” Makuta gasped. “I’m Makuta!”
Mamuk let his grip move upwards and around Makuta’s throat. “Lies,” he hissed. “Blatant. Lies. Tell me the truth…”—His grip tightened, forcing a choke out of Makuta—“…or face the consequences.”
Makuta didn’t know what to do. He could scarcely breathe. Black spots were starting to appear in front of his eyes. His mind was reeling. Any longer and he would lose consciousness.
“I’ll t-talk!” he finally cried.
Mamuk narrowed his eyes in suspicion, but let go of Makuta, who collapsed to the floor, causing various belongings to fall and shatter. The mask maker took in deep gasps of air, massaging his aching neck with one hand.
By the time he had mostly recovered, Mamuk had pulled out a small cylindrical object. Makuta recognized it as energy cuffs, locking someone’s wrists together with pure electricity when a button on it was pushed. With it on, no one could pull their wrists apart or even deactivate it without a special key that only the protectors possessed. It was arguably one of the most effective devices of the time.
Mamuk forcefully grabbed Makuta’s arms and shoved them behind the latter’s back. Putting the energy cuffs in between Makuta’s wrists, he pressed the activation button, and Makuta felt a stinging pain as the electricity shot around his wrists. But the pain quickly ebbed.
“You’re under arrest for burglary and fraud,” Mamuk said, forcing Makuta to his feet. “Pretty sure kidnapping also qualifies. Either way, you’re going to the jail.”
Ekimu looked curiously at the mysterious individual who was being brought in by Mamuk. As he watched, he noticed that, although the figure was wearing a cape, there was some light glowing from their back. Energy cuffs, Ekimu thought. I wonder what happened.
After the figure was put into a cell, Mamuk deactivated the cuffs, shut the door and locked it. He then walked to Ekimu’s cell.
“Greetings, Mamuk,” the Ekimu said in a mellow voice, as if the Protector had walked in on him having a picnic. “I trust things are going well outside?”
Mamuk shook his head. “I found that individual while looking for Master Makuta,” he said, jerking a thumb at the caped villager. “He somehow broke into the living quarters of the forge. I confiscated his satchel, and… well, you’re not going to be happy with what I found.”
Mamuk put the satchel in front of him for Ekimu to see. Then, as the Protector opened the latch, Ekimu gasped. “My brother’s mask?!”
Mamuk nodded solemnly. “Yes. I also found various belongings of Makuta’s in it, and that, combined with the mask, leads to the conclusion that he mugged Makuta and hid him somewhere. I’ve sent a search party to find him, but nobody’s returned with news so far. I, too, will look for him as soon as I can.”
“Please do,” Ekimu said desperately. “Is there anything I can do?”
“Other than praying, not much, I’m afraid,” replied Mamuk. “I wish there was something else you could do, but with you being in here…”
Ekimu nodded. “I understand. May I have his mask for a second?”
“You can see it,” Mamuk said, and held out the mask through the bars. Ekimu looked closely at it. Oh, Makuta, Ekimu thought dolefully. You told me to not get into trouble; now look at yourself.
“Well,” said Mamuk at length, “I’d better go join the search party.” He put the mask back in the satchel and sighed. “I’ll look as hard as I can for your brother, Master Ekimu. Take care, mask maker.”
As Mamuk left, he looked around at the other cells. Other than himself, there were four other Okotans. The one to his left was a middle-aged villager of Stone that Ekimu did not recognize. The side of his mask had been chipped away, revealing part of his face. The bare skin of his face was badly scarred. The only person who had visited him was was who Ekimu assumed was his daughter; she was far too young to be his wife. He was sitting down and staring at the ceiling, clearly lost in thought.
The second prisoner was a relatively young female villager of Jungle. Ekimu knew who she was. Her name was Kaila. She was arrested for secretly stealing weapons from the bodies of gladiators. Apparently “they don’t need them anyway” wasn’t a good enough argument, Ekimu thought with grim humor.
The third one was in the cell just across from his. He was a villager of Fire, with a unique mask that looked nothing like the mask a villager would wear. In fact, he himself didn’t look at all like an Okotan. He was small, and his arms were abnormally long. His legs were short, and his feet were big and wide. Nobody knew who he was, or why he was in jail. Nobody ever came to visit him. Those who were visiting walked past him as if he didn’t exist. He was just there.
The fourth and last one was the one who had just been brought in. He was a villager of Earth, and appeared about Ekimu’s age and size. He looked familiar somehow, though the mask maker couldn’t put a finger on who it might be.
The villager, who had been staring down at the floor, looked up at Ekimu. Instantly his expression changed to utter hatred. “Stop looking at me!” he spat, and turned away.
Ekimu stared in shock. He had no idea why—or how—someone could look at him with such rage. He was accustomed to being loved and respected by almost everyone on Okoto. The most negative reaction he had ever received before this was when he had made a tin mask for someone as a prank. But this… he wasn’t used to being given such a look of hate, even—no, especially—by a villager.
Then again, he thought sadly, what I did earlier today would probably trigger that emotion. And honestly… I don’t blame them for feeling that. It’s a perfectly natural reaction to feel angry at someone who burned a house down. Besides, most of the other Okotans know I didn’t really mean to do that. But even as Ekimu said this to himself, he still felt hollow and alone.
Looking out of the cell window, he saw some Okotans running through the city, and heard them call Makuta’s name. He put a hand to his face. “Why, why did I have to go and get arrested?” he asked himself. He could just as well have been spending this time going with the group, helping them search for his brother. Or maybe if this hadn’t happened, maybe Makuta wouldn’t have even been kidnapped. Ekimu didn’t even know for sure if his brother had even been kidnapped. He could be hurt—after all, he didn’t have his mask. Or maybe… maybe it was far worse than a simple injury.
Ekimu dropped to his knees. “At least give me a sign,” he whispered. “Please, give me a sign that Makuta is at least still alive…”
The caped Okotan sneezed.
Makuta sniffled. That came out of nowhere, he thought as he rubbed his nose.
Looking at the other cells, he saw four prisoners other than himself. The only ones he recognized were the scarred Stone Okotan—his name was Hidak—and Ekimu, of course. Makuta noticed that his brother was on his knees and folding his hands, as if in prayer. It looked like he was once in great concentration, but he was looking around now, with a surprised and confused expression on his face.
“What, did my sneeze break your meditation?” he said sarcastically. He was, however, careful to disguise his voice.
Ekimu looked up. “Well,” he said quietly, “I don’t mean to offend you, of course, but I believe so.”
“No offense taken,” Makuta grumbled, and faced away from the mask maker once more. The conversation is over, he thought to himself. There is no need for any more talk.
“Say,” Ekimu began.
Oh, for goodness’ sake, Makuta thought.
“Since we’ll be here a while,” his brother continued, “there’s no harm in getting to know each other, right?”
Makuta turned back to Ekimu with a curious look but said nothing.
“So, what’s your name?” Ekimu asked, getting to his feet.
Makuta thought for a second. “Is that information necessary?” He may have imprisoned his brother, but he still didn’t want to outright lie.
“I should think so,” Ekimu smirked. “Like I said earlier, I want to know you. I haven’t seen you on Okoto before.” He looked closely at Makuta. “But somehow, you look awfully familiar…”
The more Ekimu looked over him, the more nervous Makuta got. What if he recognized him? “You are making me unconfor—” he started to say.
“That’s it,” Ekimu said as he snapped his fingers. “You have the same eyes as my brother.”
Makuta tensed up. His mind raced through something to say. “Well, I’m flattered,” he managed to say. “But, surely Makuta is not an earth Okotan, is he?”
“Good point,” Ekimu replied, smiling faintly. “Believe it or not, we were both villagers of Water before we became mask makers.”
“Really.” Makuta’s eyes narrowed. “And might I ask if it’s normal for you to tell strangers about your family? Would Makuta like that?”
“Well, the Okotans love it when I tell them more about us,” Ekimu said. He sat down. “Telling them about our humble beginnings makes them grow in confidence; it lets them know that becoming great isn’t just because of luck or destiny. It’s because you see an opportunity, and you do something about it. Besides, if Makuta didn’t want me talking to the villagers in such a personal fashion, he’d talk to me about it.”
Makuta folded his arms. “You don’t know your brother as well as you should, Ekimu.”
Ekimu blinked in surprise. “I know Makuta far better than you do,” he said, frowning. “There are secrets he’s told me I would never share with anyone.”
Makuta’s expression softened. “Good. So you’re not as much of a fool as I thought you were.”
Ekimu’s mouth fell open. “I— excuse me?!”
Makuta stood up and started to pace around his cell. “You set a house on fire,” he began, “and you hurt someone by creating a pillar from the ground. That,” he said, pointing at Ekimu, “is exploiting the power you have to hurt others. I would never do a thing like that.”
Ekimu put on a dull expression. “So you have a mask of power, too?”
Makuta froze. “I…” He thought fast. “I mean if I had that mask. But what I was going to say was, what were you even thinking? Were you angry at your poor, pathetic little brother?”
Ekimu’s eyes widened. He bolted up and grabbed the cell bars as if it were the neck he’d have dearly liked to wring right then. “Don’t you DARE talk about Makuta that way!” he snapped. “He’s anything but pathetic, and he’s a hundred times more the Okotan than anyone who says something so petty and cruel about my BROTHER!”
Makuta’s eyes were wide with shock. Never before had he seen Ekimu so fiercely protective of him. “You… love me that much?” he murmured, forgetting to disguise his voice.
“I certainly don…” Ekimu stopped for a second, and a perplexed expression came over his face. “Wait, what?”
A tear welled up in Makuta’s eye and fell down his cheek. He put a hand to the edge of his mask and lifted it from his face.
Ekimu jerked back as though physically struck by the sight of his brother’s familiar face under the generic mask. “Makuta? Is that you?!”
Makuta nodded, rubbing his eye with a hand. “I’m… I’m so sorry, Ekimu. I was just… I was so angry at you.”
Ekimu tried to smile. “It’s fine,” he said, struggling to keep his voice stable.
“No, you don’t get it,” Makuta protested. “I used my mask of Control. I used it—used you—I made you set that hut on fire. I framed you. I got this disguise so I could—I could—Oh, I don’t know anymore!” He broke down into tears and thudded to the ground, head in his hands. “Brother, I’ve…I’ve been… so stupid…”
Ekimu was still as a statue as Makuta had spilled forth the truth at his feet like vomit. He watched his brother for a time as the maskless figure weeped openly in the shame of his actions. Time seemed to stop moving, and everything was dead silent but for the retching sobs. Then, the calloused hand of the Mask maker reached out through the bars. “Makuta.”
His hand found Makuta’s, and though the other Mask Maker tried to jerk away, he refused to release his hold. After a minute longer, Makuta obliged Ekimu’s silent request. He shuffled over to the bars of the cell, and the brothers embraced as close as they were able through the barrier. “Thank the Spirit I have not lost you altogether, brother.”
“What?!” Tahu gasped. “That’s it? Where’s the rest? What happened next?!”
Narmoto laughed. “Well, Makuta explained to the jailer and Protectors what had happened, and both he and Ekimu were released early. Then, they made masks and—”
“Hang on a sec,” interrupted Lewa. “What about those dreams Makuta got? Y’know, with ol’ Skullface?”
“Ah, yes,” Narmoto nodded. “Thanks for reminding me; I’d almost forgotten. Well, the next time Makuta had a dream with Kulta, he rejected his offer so strongly Kulta must have decided Makuta was too difficult to corrupt.”
“What did he want Makuta corrupted for?” Gali asked.
“Well, Kulta didn’t know a good way to take over Okoto,” the Protector explained, “so he needed someone to assist him. Also, he found Makuta’s mask power useful for extra control over his army. However, he could still control them, and that’s exactly what he did. He resurrected his army, as well as the Lord of Skull Spiders.”
“The Lord of Skull Spiders was dead?” wondered Tahu aloud.
“Yes,” Narmoto nodded. “He is an ancient being, probably almost as old as the creatures.”
“Guess that explains why he stunk,” Lewa remarked. “Both at fighting and smell.”
“Anyway,” Narmoto continued, “When the Lord of Skull Spiders was brought back to life, he summoned a hoard of skull spiders to take over the island. However, he was doing this for himself, not Kulta. Soon, a war between spider and skeleton raged across the island, with the villagers of Okoto caught in the crossfire. Generations later, we sent our prayers to the heavens to finally put an end to that madness… And those prayers gave us you.” He gestured to all six Toa in his midst.
“Guess we showed those guys what for!” Tahu grinned.
Kopaka rolled his eyes. “And in doing so, destroyed the arena.”
“Lighten up, brother!” Onua chuckled, landing an enormous hand on Kopaka’s shoulder. “That old place was spooky, anyway.”
“He’s got a point!” Tahu laughed. He then looked up at the sky. “Well, it’s starting to get dark. Come on, team, let’s get some rest.” He turned to Narmoto. “Narmoto? You coming with us?”
The old Protector looked up at his name being called, then waved a hand dismissively. “Oh, no thank you. It’s a warm night, and I want to watch the suns set.”
Tahu shrugged. “Suit yourself. Come on, guys.”
As the Toa walked off, Narmoto sighed, smiling as he looked up at the two statues of the legendary mask makers. The suns were directly behind the memorials, making it look like the stone set in years before was made with pure light.
“They were the greatest mask makers of all time,” Narmoto breathed. “They made masks for all of us, and, like all beings of good, shall watch over us from their true home in the stars until the end of time. For that is truly the way… of the BIONICLE.”
That was fast.