Bionicle: The Island of Masks

Prologue - Okoto, Our Home


Gathered Friends, listen again to the tale of the Bionicle:
In the time before time, there was an ancient clan, our ancestors, who lived on the island of Okoto. They were the ones who discovered this beautiful island, however, the island was dangerous at first, at least to them. Do you know why we wear masks?

The ancient clan could not handle the impressive amount of energy the island emitted. Right now, we have the Elemental Nazeki, legendary beings that embody the island’s elements, to thank for upholding the island’s elemental energy fields, but long ago, they were a danger to our ancestors. The energy would eat away at their bodies, and unfortunately, many of them perished. However, what was left of the clan quickly travelled to the furthest isle where the energy was least concentrated and built shelter. They used their old incantations to try and control this energy, and with the help of the Nazeki, it worked.

The clan began to ease into their new home, adapting to the new conditions, but it was still overwhelming. Some of the clansmen began to experiment, making wooden masks and enchanting them. These were the first masks, and they would allow those who wore them to be linked to the island and adjust to its energy. Throughout the years, mask making has been greatly advanced, with masks being made of metal and crystals giving them their power, and some Okotans have started to become embodiments of an element, like the Nazeki. The Mask Makers remained without a link to an element, since they keep to their forges and their given masks. Ekimu and Makuta were good examples.

They carried the tradition of this ancient clan, wearing the Mask of Creation and Mask of Control. Ekimu and Makuta both agreed to only implement one element to each mask, and named this agreement “The Edict of Masks”. However, Makuta, while talented, saw that the island favored Ekimu’s masks more. Jealous of his brother, he made deals with his enemies and started to plan on how he can surpass him. He started to make masks that had more than one element, which, much to Ekimu’s concern, contradicted their edict. Makuta wanted the villagers to favor his masks, but Makuta’s efforts failed. After being confronted by Ekimu, Makuta made the Mask of Ultimate Power behind his brother’s back, using stolen elemental crystals and his failed masks. Makuta planned to demonstrate the mask, saying that it would fulfill all Okotans’ needs and desire would cease to exist, but Makuta’s intention was to rule the island.

However, when Makuta wore the mask, it echoed Makuta’s feelings of jealousy and filled him with the power of the six elements, but the elements were not pure. Ekimu, seeing Makuta be morphed by the mask, took action as soon as he realized what Makuta’s plan was and hit the mask from Makuta’s head. The mask, unable to contain the elemental power, shattered, and the Capital City of the island, along with Makuta and most of its inhabitants, disappeared, leaving a crater that had Ekimu’s body, but not his mask.

The Protectors, powerful warriors of each element of the island, placed Ekimu in a tomb in the City of the Mask Makers, the city where the two brothers resided. The island has been struggling since then, its energy fields damaged and the island separated by six regions, no longer the peaceful jungle island our ancestors saw. This event became known as the Cataclysm. A few years afterwards, the wildlife, specifically the arachnids, became hostile, taking villagers each day as slaves to the lord of these creatures, Atlarak. Unfortunately, the Protectors cannot save everyone, but they have a plan, I’m sure of it.

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Chapter 1 - Desperate Times


Vizuna, an inhabitant of the island of Okoto and Protector of the island’s jungle region of Rinoa, waited patiently on a thick branch of one of the many trees in the island’s forest. “Hope this works,” he whispered to himself as he aimed his bow at a big, four-legged spider. The spider, which was dark blue and had grey legs, was making its way through the forest with a group of four similar spiders following it. Vizuna knew that whatever they were doing, it wasn’t going to be good. He had been tracking spiders like these all day, stopping them from getting to a nearby village. Vizuna draws the handle of his bow, then releases. The bolt strikes the spider, killing it instantly and causing the spiders around it to scatter. The Protector’s short tail twitches as he fires another bolt, missing another spider as it climbs a scratched tree. “No you don’t,” Vizuna says as he leaps from his branch to the ground, making himself more visible, and more tempting, to the group of spiders. He fires again, killing the spider before it could hide in the treetop. The rest of the spiders start attacking him, but Vizuna knocks down the closest spider, then shoots another bolt at the furthest spider, pinning it by the leg. The last spider, instead of attacking head on, scuttled to Vizuna’s right as he shoots a bolt, missing the spider. “One more,” Vizuna notes, his bow only carrying one more shot, as the spider hurries into the bushes. The remaining spider, ripping its own leg off to escape the bolt, jumps at Vizuna. He ducks as the spider lands behind him and draws his bow, shooting the spider. He takes some time to reload his bow with more bolts when he hears a scream. He runs past the bushes to see a mask on the ground. The mask was turquoise and scratched, but there was no one around.

Hearing leaves rustling above him, he prepares himself for a surprise attack. He looks around when he spots a pair of red eyes leering back at him. Giving him no time to react, the red-eyed being jumped at Vizuna and pushed him to the ground. The being, wearing the spider as a mask, started to strike at Vizuna’s head, but Vizuna had his arms up, protecting himself. As the attacker raises both arms in another attempt to strike, Vizuna punches the being in the chin, making sure to hit the spider, and not the being himself. Vizuna pushed the being aside and tears the spider off, throwing it to the ground. He stands, one foot on the desperate creature and shoots it before it could escape. After finally taking a moment to catch his breath, he returns the mask to the being, who lay exhausted. He helps the being stand and puts the mask back on his head. The being, colored green and turquoise and slightly smaller than Vizuna, says, “Thank you so much, Protector.”

“Don’t mention it, is your village nearby?” Vizuna asks. The being, a young Rinoan, takes a moment to try and stand by himself.

“I’m not sure, I was lured away.”

“By who?”

“I don’t know, the last thing I remember was a strange noise coming from the forest.”

“The little crawlers, I assume.”

“Probably, but I saw a blinking light as well.” Vizuna, now confused, searched for a response, but the villager continued, “I don’t know why, but I followed it. I guess I was curious as to what it was since I’ve never seen anything like it.”

“Did you see what was causing the blinking light?”

“It looked like a blade to me.” Vizuna’s heart sank. Suddenly, an even larger creature used its tail to cut a tree down, which barely misses the two. It had a head like a skull and two sharp pincers. The natural armor it had on its back looked skeletal, and had a sharp spike near its head. It had six legs and a tail that had two venomous, sharp hook-blades. Opening and closing its blades, the creature attempted to threaten Vizuna and the villager.

“Like those?” Vizuna asked, his tone suggesting a little facetiousness as he reached for his bow. Predicting an attack and attempting to prevent it, the creature charged at Vizuna. The villager rolled out of the way, but Vizuna was grabbed by its pincers and smashed into another tree, his bow dropped on the ground. After hesitating, the villager saw Vizuna’s bow, and grabbed it. He drew the handle, and aimed at the creature’s back, hoping it’s a weak spot. Trying hard to steady himself, he released his grip as soon as he had an opening, hitting the creature at the base of its tail as it was about to throw Vizuna. The tail became numb and dropped as the creature wailed in pain. The villager aims again, ambitiously aiming at the creature’s claw, which held Vizuna tight. He draws the handle once more and takes a deep breath. When he releases, the bolt strikes just in front of Vizuna, who flinches, but then bounces off.

“A warning next time, please!” Vizuna yells. The villager lowers the bow as the creature turns to face him, tossing Vizuna aside as he charges again. The villager dives out of the way, but the creature lunged, swung its claw, and scratched his leg. The villager let out a short, painful scream as Vizuna stands and positions his hands as if he was holding a ball. A gale picks up as the creature raises its claws to crush the villager. Vizuna pushes his hands forward and a powerful gust of wind pushes the scorpion, interrupting the attack and allowing the villager to quickly get away. He heads toward a tree, then turns to face the creature, keeping his eye on it and walking slowly backwards. Vizuna tries not to catch the creature’s attention as he goes to pick up his bow.

“Hey, Bone-head, over here!” The villager started to wave his hands as the creature screeched. “You want my mask?” The villager yells as he takes off his mask and holds it up, “Come get it!” The creature roared and charged, but the villager waited, quickly putting his mask back on. Vizuna drew his bow, but couldn’t aim fast enough. He puts his bow away and concentrates as the villager waited, then the villager dove out of the way of the creature at the last second. The creature crashes into the tree, giving Vizuna the opportunity to raise a bunch of spiked vines from the ground, holding the creature’s legs as the villager pulled out a knife from its sheath and climbed onto the creature, avoiding its spike, raising his arms, and forcing the knife into the back of the creature’s neck, killing it.

After the fight, Vizuna walked up to the villager, who put his knife back in the sheath strapped to his upper arm, and said, “Well, you seem to know what you’re doing.”

“T-Thank you, Protector.”

“Thank you for not using the knife on me back there, and please, it’s alright to call me Vizuna. Will you be ok?”

“It’s nothing. I just need to walk it off is all,” the villager said, holding back his tears.

“So, how did you end up here?”

“Well, I followed the light until it stopped showing itself, and the next thing I knew, I was lost in the forest. I heard more noises and made my way towards where it was coming from, hoping it was someone who could help me. I didn’t know there were mind-controlling bugs.” Vizuna went to calm him down, wondering what terrible things one has to go through when a spider takes over their mind. The two started walking away from the creature’s corpse. “What was that thing, anyways?” The villager finally asked.

“A Kopinoma. Basically, it’s a scorpion that developed bony plates on its exoskeleton. The plates formed skeletal armor, which is a morbid-looking development, and the creature got its name because of that. It’s probably to frighten others.”

“Any reason why it led me into the forest?”

“Probably to isolate you, to lead you away from the guards. It was easier to either kill you or steal your mask that way.”

“So, why did it leave? Why didn’t it strike when it had the chance?”

“Maybe it started to worry about its territory. It probably heard me attacking the Kovo."

“Kovo?”

“You’ve never heard of the Kovo?”

“Can’t say I have. I’ve never even seen those things before.”

Surprised, Vizuna explains, “They’re spiders. These spiders in particular, like the one that controlled you, are called Noma-Kovo, but I just say Kovo to be more concise.”

“Oh, so that particular spot you were fighting the Kovo in, was that its territory?” Vizuna nods. “It looks the same as the rest of the forest, how does it know where its territory is?”

“Kopinoma dig tunnels and leave scratches on nearby trees to mark where its territory is and to prevent getting lost. I came across some scratched trees while tracking and fighting the Kovo, so I may have stumbled onto its territory.”

“They burrow underground?” Vizuna started to think that maybe it’s a bad idea to keep talking about the creature that wounded this villager, whose voice was trembling at this point.

“To shield themselves from the sun, they’re extremely sensitive to heat.” Vizuna speaks again before the villager can open his mouth, “Listen, what’s done is done, let’s change the subject.” Vizuna tries to think of something to ask while the villager continues to calm himself down. Finally, Vizuna looks at the villager and asks, “What’s your name?”

“Era. I know, it’s a weird name. It was based off the female name, Eris, which means breeze. My parents thought it suited me, saying how gentle and kind I was.”

“Hmm, Era sounds like a female name to me. Of course, so does Vizuna.”

“Really? I never thought so about either of them. Now that I think about it, they do sound feminine, but what does that matter? No one really said anything about my name, so I never really put much thought into it. I assume no one asked you about it?”

Vizuna quickly responds, “No. So, how did you know how to use a bow? Back there, you shot my bow as if you’ve been trained in archery for a while.”

“I watched my friends hunt Maliu before. They taught me everything I knew, which isn’t much compared to them.”

“I’m sorry if it seems odd to ask, but what’s this Maliu creature?”

“You’ve never seen a Maliu before?”

“I may have, but maybe I just didn’t recognize it.”

“Grazer? Two-legged? Spine on its back? Flat teeth? Any of these spark?”

“Surprisingly, no.”

“Hmm.”

“Yeah. Well, I travel by vine and I have my duties, so maybe I haven’t had the chance to slow down and sightsee.” Another pause. Vizuna was running out of things to talk about, but the silence was annoying him. Era was still trying to calm himself down, feeling a little better. Vizuna hesitates before asking, “So, what age are you, if you don’t mind me asking?”

“Twenty-two years, what about you? I mean, I don’t want to assume, but you must be pretty old to be so skilled in combat, and you’re a Protector, so-”

“Thirty-eight years.” Era’s eyes widen.

“Thirty-eight? Really? You look way older.”

“Looks don’t really show age, at least not with us. Honestly, I wouldn’t know anyone’s age if they never told me. Anyways, the reason I’m among the youngest of my brothers and sister may be because I became Protector at nineteen years, which technically makes me the more experienced.”

“Really? That’s young for a Protector. I heard Narmoto became Protector near twenty-five years. Was it because of your dawning?” Era flinched, worried that Vizuna would be angered by the question. Asking about an Okotan’s dawning, or “birth”, is dangerous. Their dawning is a sensitive topic, depending on the Okotan. Luckily, Vizuna didn’t seem to mind.

“Yeah, my parents were really worn out after my dawning. Most people say it’s because of my destiny as a Protector and my elemental abilities, but my parents always said it’s because they’ve ‘been through a lot’, and that I shouldn’t dwell on it.” Era wanted to ask about his parents, but held himself back. It was sensitive enough talking about the dawning of a Protector, but asking about a Protector’s parents never bodes well, especially if the Protector earned the standing at a young age. “By the way, what village are you from?” Vizuna asks, regretting not asking before in place of the previous question.

“Oh, um, Lehuatlan,” That answer caught Vizuna off guard.

“Lehuatlan? You mean the capital?”

“Is that a bad thing?”

“What were you doing this far north?”

“My friends are from Maverdon and they invited me for another hunting trip. I was making my way to the camp my friends set up north of town when the Kopinoma lured me.” The both of them come across a path, and sigh in relief. Vizuna continues their conversation.

“Well, you’re just full of surprises, aren’t you?” Era keeps quiet as Vizuna continues, “It’s a long way to Lehuatlan, maybe you should return to Maverdon and ask your friends if they can house you for the night. Maybe have them escort you if I’m not able.”

“Were you planning to escort me?”

“Yeah, mostly because I don’t trust you learned your lesson and it’s a long way to Lehuatlan, which means more of a chance for something bad to happen. However, it’s late in the day and I need to meet with the others soon. I’ll take you back to Lehuatlan if they approve.”

“Why me specifically? What about other people who might need you?”

“Trust me, the fortresses have an abundance of trained and trusted warriors who can handle themselves and the other villages and farmlands, and I need a break from managing them anyways. Plus, you know another archer who also doubles as a mentor, and I’d like to see what you’ve been learning.”

“I’m not that good. Vekole, my one of my friends, can only teach me so much. She’s the best archer out of all of us. I also get nervous practicing with others. Besides, where would you sleep?”

“All villages have places for Protectors to live temporarily. It’s mostly for those from other regions, but it has enough room for all six. Besides, you shouldn’t worry, we can help you if you need it. I’m sure your friends wouldn’t mind, either. Of course, that’s if the others let me. Honestly, I do need a break: this whole Kovo business is tiring work at times, you know?”

“I wish I could.” Era looks ahead and sees a hill in the distance. “Well, we aren’t far now.”

The two keep walking on the path, making sure nothing attacked them on the way, and arrived at Maverdon. Maverdon was a village built on top of a hill, famous for housing the most “elementally adept” Rinoans. However, when the two approached the walls of the village, they saw that they were severely damaged, and there was a breach. Screeches and clashing metal can be heard as Era and Vizuna ran into the village, seeing two more Kopinoma and a hoard of Kovo attacking the village. Thorned vines were protruding from the ground all over the place, showing the amount of effort the Maverdonians took to protect the village, while those who were still able continued to demonstrate their abilities as adept Rinoans, using the element of the Jungle to push back against the Kovo and Kopinoma. Some villagers were already taken over by the Kovo and are engaged in fights against their comrades, who hesitate with every attempt to free them. Era swiped Vizuna’s bow and aimed at a Kopinoma, screaming angrily as he shot at its head. The bolt bounced off as the Kopinoma lost interest in the villager he was fighting previously and charged at Era. Era, already giving up on the bow, threw it down and unsheathed his knife, running at the Kopinoma.

“Era, STOP!” Vizuna yelled as he tried to grab Era and pull him back, but a corrupted villager kicked him down before he could act. While Vizuna prepared to fight the villager, Era dove towards the charging Kopinoma, twisting his body so he landed on his back. He stabbed the knife into the underbelly of the Kopinoma as it screeches in pain and keeps running, unable to slow itself down. The knife cut a huge gash on the unarmored part of its body and the Kopinoma slowed down, then fell dead. Era turned and saw a bolt for a split-second, then threw his head back, avoiding the bolt and ending up on his back again. Getting up, Era saw that his friend, Vekole, had a Kovo on her face and was shooting at him.

Era paused, screaming, “VEKOLE, NO!” before running towards her. He didn’t know what he would do, but he had to do something. Gathering energy, he prepared himself as Vekole shot again. Era raised his hand up, causing a vine to come out of the ground and catch the arrow. Vekole, seeing the distance close between her and Era, switched her bow for her kopis and ran towards Era. While Vekole was a skilled shot, Era was a better swordfighter, especially in a fit of anger, and at this point, Era decided talking would do nothing. Expecting Vekole to try and strike first, Era raised his knife, but stopped short, tricking Vekole into swinging the blade ahead of time, then he tried to aim for the Kovo’s legs, hoping the legs were thick enough to prevent the blade from hurting Vekole. He tried to slash left at her head when Vekole raised her blade and blocked his, allowing her to place her hand on the dull edge of her kopis and push against Era’s knife, causing him to step back quickly. Era tried to think of a different approach and moved his arm to his left side, as if to slash right. Vekole prepared herself and saw Era’s projection, but fell for the feint. Era moved his arm, but instead of slashing, he raised his elbow. Vekole, who moved her blade to her right to try and block Era’s slash, left her front open as Era hit the Kovo with the pommel of his knife, loosening it from Vekole’s head. Era grabbed the Kovo, pulled it from Vekole’s face, and threw it down in one motion, stabbing the Kovo repeatedly, his knife in a reverse grip, while Vekole returned to her senses.

Vekole saw him, saying, “Era?” He didn’t respond, still stabbing the Kovo. Vekole turned him around, and held his shoulders, yelling, “Era, quit it! I’m fine now!” She saw that Era was crying, and didn’t know what to do.

She hugged him as he whispered, “Sorry.” Vekole then looked around, found her mask, and went to get it while Era stood up, taking his mask off quickly to wipe his tears away.
Vekole put her mask back on as Era approached her, saying, “Promise me that won’t happen again?”

“You know me and promises, Era.”

“I do. Promise me that you won’t get caught again.”

“We’ll see.”

Vizuna had to be careful not to hurt the villager. The villager had a mere-like club and kept trying to hit Vizuna’s mask off, but Vizuna was quick. Although unarmed, Vizuna felt using his bow wasn’t the best idea. The villager kept trying to hit Vizuna when Vizuna stepped to the right and punched the villager in the stomach. As the villager clenched, Vizuna hit the back of the villager’s head, trying to hold his own strength back. The Kovo flew from the villager’s face to the ground while the villager recovered his mask, grabbed the nearest spear, nodded at Vizuna, and joined the others. Vizuna grabs his bow and finishes off the Kovo, then he looks over to Era as he’s fighting Vekole. Suddenly, more Kovo try to attack Vizuna, but Vizuna summons two vines from the ground. The vines moved as Vizuna’s hands did, and Vizuna started to swat the spiders. One Kovo tried to jump onto Vizuna’s head, but Vizuna caught it in time and threw it at the other Kovo. After most of the Kovo were dealt with, Vizuna saw that a group of three villagers were trying to suppress the other Kopinoma, winding the vines around its legs to try and keep it from doing any more damage.

Vizuna noticed that Vekole was ok and yells, “Era! The Kopinoma!” Era and Vekole both run to Vizuna, and the three run to the Kopinoma. Vizuna and Vekole were both shooting at the Kopinoma, trying to hit a weak spot. Era summoned a vine to wrap around its tail and hold it down while another villager climbed onto the creature and tried to stab it. The Kopinoma used as much strength it could muster and tore the vines apart. The villager held on as the creature tried to smash him against the walls and the huts in the village.

“Who is that?” Vizuna asked Vekole.

“I think it’s Loana, the village smith.”

“Will he be ok?”

“He might be, but we may need to help him.”

Era turns to Vizuna and Vekole and yells, “Wait! Vekole, gather the archers and help the others fight the Kovo, Vizuna, Loana, and I will deal with the Kopinoma!” Vizuna and Vekole nod and Vekole runs to the other Maverdonians, who have already recovered a couple more villagers and cleared the southern part of the village, stationing some of the warriors to watch for more Kovo. While the Maverdonians fend off the Kovo with shields and spears and push them back towards the breach, Vekole gathers the village’s archers and prepare to start firing salvos over the villagers at the Kovo.

The villager on the Kopinoma, Loana, yells, “Era! Try to hold its legs somehow!”

“I have a better plan: I’ll try to hold its tail. Vizuna, create a fence of brambles around us.”

“Will do,” Vizuna says as he surrounds the Kopinoma, Loana, and Era with a barrier of brambles.

“Ok, now go help the others, we’ll take it from here.”

“Are you sure?”

“Just go! Help the others push the Kovo back!” Vizuna, concerned but compliant, went to assist Vekole and the others as Era summons a vine to hold the tail while Loana still holds onto its back. “Loana, get off of it, I need you to hold its legs!” Loana nods and leaps off, minding the brambles and summoning more vines. He winds them around the creature’s legs, and starts to struggle immediately as the Kopinoma starts resisting. Era, aware that there’s not much time, pulls the tail and entangles it in the brambles, causing the Kopinoma to screech in pain. Loana gets a better grip as Era climbs on it and jumps over the brambles. He yells, “Loana, now!” Loana does the same as the creature tears the vines holding its legs. Era closes the brambles in, tangling the Kopinoma’s legs, rendering it unable to move. As Loana joins Era, Era closes his eyes, stretches a clenched hand at the Kopinoma, and gathers energy. Loana stands back as Era summons a cluster of thorns, hovering them over the Kopinoma. As Era opened his eyes and his outstretched hand, the thorns plummeted and pierced the Kopinoma, killing it.

“A bit overkill, isn’t it?” Loana asked Era.

Era, however, ignored the question, saying, “Come on, the others need help.”

As Loana and Era start making their way to the rest of the villagers, who have gained some ground, Loana says, “Still angry, I see.”

“I’ll calm down when the Kovo are driven out.”

“Not saying it’s a bad thing, just . . . control yourself, ok? You’re not the berserker type, you know?”

“Isn’t that my decision?”

“Nope. Bad decisions are mine to make, remember?” Era didn’t appreciate Loana’s facetious attitude. When the two of them arrived at the wall of Maverdonians, the archers have already fired another salvo, however, more Kovo keep attacking. The villagers at the front are trying their best to keep the Kovo from the archers and pushed them back.
Era walks behind the shield wall, yelling, “Brace yourselves!” The warriors, confused, knelt down.

“What is Era doing?” Vekole asks.

“Era! Step back!” Vizuna yelled, failing to grab Era’s attention. Suddenly, Era summons another barrier of brambles, this time separating the village guard and the Kovo. While the warriors fight the remaining Kovo that ended up on the same side of the barrier, Era summoned another barrier, this time wrapping the brambles around the walls, preventing another Kovo from climbing over. Era then parts the barrier, making an opening to walk through, then closes the opening behind him, leaving him to face the remaining horde of Kovo. Unable to see over the barrier, the Maverdonians, even Vizuna, became worried. Era engulfed himself in thorn-less vines, creating a single spike for each hand and a tail. The vines wrapped around Era’s body, leaving nothing uncovered except his mask, and pieces of wood attached itself to Era.

Era had created his own set of armor and prepared to fight the entire horde alone, yelling, “Kovo! You have threatened the home of the Rinoans, proud people of this island’s true glory! By extension, you have threatened the entire island, and most importantly to your sorry selves, me!” Vizuna and Loana take apart the barrier, and the entire village sees Era about to attack the Kovo alone. Vizuna was about to run and help Era, but Loana and Vekole hold him back.

“What are you doing?” Vizuna asked, already confused about Era’s appearance.

“It’s too late, he just gets like this when someone threatens something or someone he loves,” Loana explains. Era starts slicing and jabbing Kovo after Kovo, making quick work of the horde.

“This was what he was like when we were a bit younger,” said Vekole as Era kept fighting, “Around five years ago, a giant flying insect attacked the four of us while we were hunting.”

“It was us, Era, and Okala, another friend of ours,” Loana said, “The insect hurt all of us. Vekole had her arms wounded and I lost my mask and got bitten, both of us were pretty much half-dead. While Era returned my mask and watched over us, Okala tried to fight the insect herself. She got severely wounded and wouldn’t wake up.”

Vekole continued, “I think Era was hurt the most, if not physically, then mentally, at least. He tried to lead the insect away from us and got badly hurt in the process.”

“He finally snapped and did what he’s doing now,” Loana said. Vizuna had a hard time believing the Era he talked to in the forest, who was given his name for his gentle nature and hesitated to fight at all, was the same person as this uncontrollable warrior. Loana continued, “The insect never stood a chance. Luckily, some of the village guard came to investigate the commotion, calmed Era down, and helped us heal.”

“I still don’t understand. Why is he using the elements like this? Elementally adept Okotans were only supposed to use the elements as a last resort,” Vizuna said.

“Era loses control sometimes. He starts acting without thinking and forgets everything else while fighting,” Loana said, worried the Protector might try to stop Era and get hurt.

“I don’t mean to offend you, Vizuna, but I think Era is our last resort. Look,” Vekole says. Vizuna looks as another Kopinoma tears the wall of brambles down and enters the village. Vekole signals the archers to keep holding their fire while Loana tells the spearmen not to intervene. Era, seeing the Kopinoma, yells as he runs toward it, but the Kopinoma strikes with its tail, nearly cutting Era’s hand off. Era grabs its tail before the Kopinoma can pull it back and, wrapping the vines around one of the blades, starts to tear the blade off. As the Kopinoma screams, Era jumps onto the creature, narrowly avoiding its pincers, and rips the blade off. Then, he raises the blade and brings it down onto the Kopinoma’s skull. He then sees another horde of Kovo approaching the village, however, as he was about to strike, a wall of fire appears between him and the Kovo. The Kovo hesitate as a red and silver being walked up to Era.

The being put his hand on Era’s forehead saying, “You know, a fire like yours can burn down an entire village.” Unable to respond, Era starts to calm down, his elemental power decreasing and his armor falling to the ground. The being turned to Vizuna and spoke again, “So, this is why you’re late, Vizuna.” He then turns back and stretches his hand out and the wall of fire lowers. As it disappears completely with the Kovo waiting on the other side, the being grabbed two hilts, then summoned two flames to emit from the hilts, parallel to the being’s arm. The flames became concentrated, taking the form of blades, and the being, whose armor started to glow, started swinging his blades from side to side. The Kovo backed away, afraid of the flames. The being then aimed the cannon on his shoulder and fired at the Kovo, dispatching of most of the gathered horde. Era stood by, watching the being drive away the Kovo.

“Are you going to keep them all for yourself, Narmoto?” Vizuna suddenly asked, approaching the being, Narmoto, as he kept firing.

“An appropriate way to repay us, don’t you think?” Narmoto responded, “They’re fleeing anyways.” He stops firing, then faces Vizuna, saying, “Have you forgotten that these Kovo hate fire?”

“I didn’t know that was a weakness. You always talked about how the Kovo kept attacking your villages,” Vizuna answered.

“Those Kovo are red, they have a resistance to heat, as with all Valdanites,” Narmoto said with an irritated tone. “These Kovo are blue, they are meant to be the tougher of the rest.” Era almost said something, but decided to hold himself back.

“Then why are they so easy to kill?” Vizuna asks, speaking Era’s mind.

“They are tough if you use regular weapons like swords, clubs, or spears. Bolts from bows like yours can pierce its armor easily. Elemental attacks, including summoned thorns and vines, can also pierce them easily,” Narmoto explained. He turns his attention to Era, asking, “Would you like to accompany us to Tanasa, adept?”

“What do you mean?” Era asked.

“We have a few things to discuss, one of those things involves you, and I feel you should be there to give your voice,” Narmoto said. Era’s heart skipped a beat either from fright or excitement. He couldn’t tell.

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Chapter 2 – Kindling to a Fire


“Open the gates! The Protectors of Fire and Jungle approach!” a guard shouts as the portcullis of the stone city is raised, greeting the Protectors and Era. The three had a long journey from Rinoa to Valdan. They had to stop at one of Valdan’s outer village-forts, Anakom, to rest. Both Vizuna and Era had makeshift additions to prepare for Valdan’s environment. The two Rinoans had thin sponges tied to their face by a long strip of fabric and wore eyewear made from antlers that had two wide slits and was held to their head by the sinew of an animal. The eyewear and sponges were worn under their masks as protection from Valdan’s irritating air. Even though they’ve been in Valdan for a while, Era was still scared. Valdan’s environment itself was intimidating, as much as the villages and cities in the region. Each one was mostly stone and heavily fortified.

“Keep up the good work, Kavani,” Narmoto says to the guard playfully.

“My voice will echo across the sea, Protector,” Kavani says, sincere as she could be. Narmoto knew she was playing along. Kavani turns her attention to Era, saying, “How was the view?”

“What?” Era says.

“The view of Valdan. How was it?” Era was afraid anything he’d say would disappoint her.

“Different, I guess?”

“So, you can see from those goggles. Good. Just don’t get lost, ok? I’ve heard people get lost in Anakom a lot, and Tanasa is a way bigger city,” Kavani says before signaling the guards on the wall to start lowering the portcullis. Era kept quiet. He did get lost in Anakom once while exploring the village.

“More kindling?” Another guard, who was standing on the opposite side of the gate, asks.

“Watch it, people will get the wrong idea. That saying’s been prohibited for a reason, you know. Besides, he seems different from the others. He’s timid,” Kavani replies. The Protectors and Era make their way to Tanasa’s Protector’s Hall, the place Narmoto lives in. Era made sure to stick close to Vizuna and Narmoto, amazed at how large Tanasa looks from the inside. Almost everything was made of clean cut stone, and the walls towered over most of the buildings. Each avenue of the city was wide, Era had never seen so many Okotans in one place. Most were chatting, looking at goods, or carrying water to their homes from the wells of the city.

“Wait until you see the center,” Narmoto said after noticing how eager Era was. The center of the city was stunning. There were so many shops occupied by Okotans from all over the island. There were merchants from the water region selling fish and merchants from the stone region selling statuettes and pottery. However, there was something in the middle of the city’s center that caught Era’s eye: a giant building with a mural of two creatures stands tall. The building has red painted stripes circling the walls and carvings all around the building. The building was even taller than the walls of the city. Era saw the mural of the two creatures, one was a phoenix and the other was what looked like a winged serpent. The serpent had its head near its tail, facing towards the city wall and making a circle with its body. The phoenix had its wings outstretched inside the serpent’s circle.

“That building, is that where you live?” Era asks Narmoto, still stunned.

“In Tanasa, yes. It is my true home.”

“You always liked showing your power,” Vizuna replied jokingly.

“I also like art,” Narmoto added, “See that mural up there, adept? That’s the totem of Tanasa encircling the Nazeki of Fire, Ikir. Ikir represents protection and strength to the Valdanites.”

“And the serpent?” Era asked.

“The winged serpent is Tanasa, the namesake of the city. He represents vindictiveness and tenacity. While Tanasa isn’t really seen as good or evil, he is the opposite of Ikir. Ikir is a creature whose purpose is to defend and protect, while Tanasa’s purpose is to seek out and fulfill his goal no matter what. Both have qualities the Valdanites look up to.” Era was surprised the Valdanites would admire what seemed to be an aggressive creature, however Vizuna seems unfazed.

“The Valdanites, especially the Tanasans, are people of determination. They embody the virtue of Duty. Narmoto’s ancestor was the first to meet the creature and live to tell about it. He and his clan built this city to show Tanasa that they were strong and determined. This drive to advance impressed him, and the winged serpent shared a connection with the chief of this clan, granting him unimaginable power,” Vizuna said.

“That’s right. Others have done the same. Anakom, Ethia, Solkahn, and Ignavol are all cities as well as real creatures in Valdan,” Vizuna explained. Era couldn’t believe it. There were five mystical creatures in one region, creatures that inspired the Valdanites to build five cities in their honor.

“There are really five legendary creatures in Valdan?” He asked.

“Five creatures that represent the five different Valdanite clans,” Vizuna explained, “Out of the five, Tanasa was the strongest, and the reason Valdan has a Protector. Unfortunately, other than Anakom’s hound, I’ve forgotten what the other totems are.”

“How could you forget, Vizuna? Have my stories not resonated with you all this time?” Narmoto asks, mocking a hurt tone.

“There are so many of your stories in my head already, it must’ve been buried,” Vizuna replied. Narmoto turned to Era.

“If you want to learn more, you can talk with me after this meeting. We’ve already spent enough time sightseeing.” Era nodded.

Inside the palace, Era couldn’t believe he was in the presence of the six Protectors. They were waiting in a large room with a round table in the middle, showing a map of the entire island. There are some statuettes on the map, some depicting buildings, others depicting Okotans and Kovo. One statuette caught Era’s eye, the statuette being an intimidating-looking spider. Era looked around the room. The Protector of Ice was sat, legs crossed, meditating. The Protector of Water was cleaning his blaster while the Protector of Stone was hovering a few stones in a circle over his hand. The Protector of Earth was at the table, looking intently at the map. They all stopped what they were doing and gathered around the table as soon as Narmoto and Vizuna approached it.

“Protectors of Okoto, we can now start our meeting,” Narmoto said. Era was watching by Vizuna, his heart racing. “Shall we start?” The Protectors bow their heads. Each one closes their eyes and recites an incantation in an ancient language, one Era couldn’t understand. Suddenly, energy emerged from the Protectors’ outstretched hands and created a force field over the entire city. The Tanasans were astonished as the warriors of the guard continued to watch for any threats. The Protectors open their eyes and raise their heads as Narmoto speaks. “We shall begin with the proceedings, starting with Izotor.” The Protector of Ice remains standing while the rest sit, including Era who had to be signaled by Vizuna to sit.

“I, Protector Izotor of Aisotl, report. The Kovo are persistent, gaining ground little by little. They seem to be braving the freezing cold of the region. However, we can push them back easily. No villages have reported any major attacks from the Kunoma.”

“Kunoma?” Era whispers to Vizuna as Izotor continues.

“Any insects with skeletal armor,” Vizuna whispers, quickly returning his attention to Izotor. Era had so many thoughts crowding his mind. The Kovo were adapting to the cold, and Era started to fear what news the other Protectors had.

“As of now, the capital city of Kovesmr is safe and observant. No Aisoti Okotans have reported seeing Atlarak.” Izotor sits back down. Era shuddered at the mention of the name Atlarak. He wanted to ask Vizuna about it, but kept to himself. The Protector next to him, the Protector of Water, stood.

“I, Protector Kivoda of Ekuana, report. Hordes of Kovo are currently guarding ancient temples they have captured. The Ekuanan warriors plan to take them back, however, I worry about the risk of losing them to the Kovo. No action has been taken yet, no matter how vocal the elders are. There were little to no sightings of Kopinoma in the region, and little to no sightings of Atlarak as well. Many Ekuanans have expressed their fear with me. The region is becoming restless. Gavolis remains safe, however, and the guard are keeping an eye out for more of the Kunoma.” Kivoda sits. Ekuana, the water region of Okoto, was thought to be invincible to the attacks of the Kunoma. They were unprepared when the Kovo attacked the underwater village of Valonda, and the region has been fearful ever since. The Protector of Stone patted Kivoda’s shoulder before standing.

“I, Protector Nilkuu of Kolvilith, report. The Kovo are highly concentrated on our region. I regret to inform you all that the village of Eparra has fallen.” All present show looks of disbelief. Era’s heart skipped another beat. “Most of the adept of the village fought valiantly, and although many evaded being captured, not many escaped. I have the feeling the Kovo are resorting to more aggressive actions for their lord. They also seem to be at their largest numbers near the region’s marshlands. I worry for the entire Zekan Savannah and the village of Pedera that resides in it if it becomes true that these insects are at their strongest in these types of areas. Pojan has been holding its ground, however, Atlarak has been sighted outside the walls during the attacks. The reports are a couple of days old, but hopefully we will pinpoint where he’ll be so we can act.” Nilkuu sits, looking more disheartened than before as the next Protector stands.

“I, Protector Korgot of Manatero, report. The Kovo have been knocking on the borders of Onuragi for some time now. We have been standing strong ever since the entire Kukris district fell, and the remaining three districts have been on high alert. Kopinoma have been giving us more trouble than we can handle and my warriors are exhausted. The Manaterans have considered evacuating to a safer region. Everyone is afraid. No one has seen Atlarak yet.” Korgot sits and Vizuna stands. Era’s heart was beating faster as he spoke.

“I, Protector Vizuna of Rinoa, report. The Kunoma have attacked the hill village of Maverdon just hours ago. They were driven off by this brave warrior, his friends, and Narmoto. Rebuilding has started as we speak, and the elders of Lehuatlan have informed me that the forts and village warriors have kept a watchful eye by their messenger bird. Lehuatlan is safe for now.” Era was surprised he was put on the spot like that. He didn’t know whether to stand up or anything. Narmoto stood to speak.

“I, Protector Narmoto of Valdan, report. As you have seen, Tanasa remains untouched. Many refugees have come here in the past few months. However, it has become difficult for these refugees to live in Valdan. The Valdanites have done their best to accommodate, however they have to sacrifice a few more morsels as well as other necessities to do so. I have spoken with the elders about this, and they are trying to find a way to make everyone happy.” A silent pause before Narmoto says, “Now that we’ve mentioned the state of our regions, what shall we discuss first?”

“We should keep the matters about Atlarak for last,” Korgot suggested. Izotor and Kivoda agreed, however Nilkuu kept a stern face under his mask.

“Nilkuu, are you alright with this?” Narmoto asked. Nilkuu nodded, keeping himself quiet.

“Well, I think we should address our guest,” Narmoto says, gesturing towards Era. Vizuna stands and signals Era to stand as well. “This Rinoan, Era, along with his friends and the adepts and warriors of Maverdon, pushed back the Kunoma and protected their home. Era has demonstrated great elemental power as well as great bravery and leadership.”

“However, Era has shown signs that he was not in control while wielding such power,” Vizuna continues, “his friends told me about his condition.”

Narmoto faces the rest of the Protectors, saying, “What actions should we take in case this boy does indeed lose control?” At first, no one replies. Then, Izotor stands to speak.

“If he needs to learn control, might I suggest meditation?”

“Someone would need to make sure he meditates,” said Nilkuu.

“Maybe his friends can watch him?” Korgot suggests. While the rest of the Protectors keep talking, Narmoto looks at Era, waiting until Era finally understood what he means.

“Vizuna could train me,” Era said. He thought since Vizuna was a Protector, he would be a good teacher.

However, Vizuna, surprised by Era’s sudden outburst, replies, “But what of my duties? What about the forts and the capital?”

“Is there a reason you can’t, Vizuna?” Nilkuu asks.

“What if I’m needed elsewhere? I need to make sure everything is well-protected and everyone is safe.”

“That hasn’t stopped you before, hasn’t it?” Narmoto says, “I can send some warriors from my reserves if you need them. I think you training Era to control his abilities is a good idea.”

“What would I teach him?” Vizuna asks Narmoto.

“What he needs to know,” Narmoto answers before asking Era, “Do you know of Maverda?” Era recognized the name, then remembered a shrine on a hill next to the village of Maverdon.

“I know there’s a shrine near Maverdon that has that name.”

“She’s the reason that village exists. With her pole-arm and elemental energy, she fought off the invaders of Akokal and protected that hill until her death. Some say she was the first Rinoan Protector, even though Rinoa didn’t exist at the time. Her tribe built Maverdon in her honor,” Narmoto explained. Era felt a bit embarrassed for not knowing that.

“What about her weapon?” Kivoda asked. “He could try to find her weapon as a test.”

“Vizuna?” Narmoto said, looking for a response.

“Her weapon could be anywhere in the region. I only know of a few places it could be, but there’s no guarantee.”

“Well, how about it? As soon as Era finds Maverda’s weapon, you can train him.”

“It will be dangerous.”

“Which is why you’ll watch over him.” Vizuna knew he was fighting a losing battle.

Giving in, he replied, “Fine, but only if you make sure your reserve warriors do their best to protect the villages.”

Narmoto nods as he says, “If Era finds Maverda’s weapon, he may use it to control his elemental power.”

Era asks, “How will her weapon help me? And why was it lost in the first place?”

“Maverda’s body was never found. Legend says she never died, but became a Great Bear to protect us for eternity,” Vizuna said, “However, many weird occurrences suggest she did indeed die on this island. For one, her ghost was seen by many witnesses around Rinoa.”

“Ok, but how would this help me control my power?”

“Well, her weapon was used by her to channel her energy. If I’m right, it should still be holding a lot of energy, which could be our only chance to find the weapon and maybe her body. It would be like a beacon. If we find either her weapon or her mask, helping you control your energy will be that much easier.” Era nodded as Narmoto spoke again.

“Now, seeing as there isn’t much else, should we move straight to the main problem?” The other Protectors hesitate to say anything. “Atlarak needs to be stopped somehow, any suggestions on how we can achieve that?” Again, the Protectors remain silent.

“The Prophecy,” Nilkuu finally says. The other Protectors look at Nilkuu as if he was crazy. Nilkuu, noticing the looks he’s getting, says with his voice raised, “What? Ekimu gave the Prophecy to the last Protectors for a reason, didn’t he? Atlarak is putting the entire island in danger, and we haven’t been able to do anything thus far. This island was in terror since our dawning, what else can we do?”

“Nilkuu, what makes you think we can’t take care of Atlarak ourselves?” asks Kivoda.

“Have any of us even fought him before? Even if we could track him down, what’s to stop him from destroying us?”

“If we fight togeth-”

“If we fight together, we could risk losing together and dooming the island. I’m not risking that. We have enough trouble when we’re in our regions defending, if we try to attack, he’ll gain control of the island for sure.” Nilkuu says, interrupting Korgot. The other Protectors look to Narmoto.

“Nilkuu is right,” Narmoto says, “Even if we face Atlarak together, it could put us and the entire island in peril. The Okotans might be enslaved or worse. As of now, Atlarak hasn’t been seen since Nilkuu’s capital guard spotted him. However, we should make sure he’s not near any capital when we go to the Temple of Time. At the right time, we hurry there, recite the Prophecy, then return to our capitals. Vizuna, Era’s training will have to wait. I want you to keep the boy by your side for now, alright?” Vizuna nods. “We have been neglecting Ekimu’s help for far too long. We have a lot of faith in ourselves, but that may not be enough. We should leave now and make sure Atlarak isn’t about to attack any of the capital cities. If you can, evacuate the remaining villages and bring them to your capital. All we all in agreement?" All of the Protectors nod. Era started to worry even more. Every Rinoan would be in Lehuatlan, leaving the villages abandoned. He wanted to speak up, but again, he kept quiet. He started to question why he thought he knew better than the Protectors. Narmoto ended the meeting saying, “Let’s hurry, the sooner we return, the sooner we can recite the Prophecy.”

This was absolutely grand to read, I have to say.

Are you making up the names of the villages, cities and regions, or are you using an official source?

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I do make the names up. Thank you for showing interest.
Chapter 3 is going to take a while since finals are coming up.
Some notes before Chapter 3:
Ekuana’i and Ekuana’ian is changed to Ekuana and Ekuanan
Nazeki is changed to Voruda.


Chapter 3 – The Arrival of the Toa


"That’s what happened,” Era said to his friends. It had been almost a week since he returned from the Protectors’ meeting in Tanasa. Vizuna had given the order to relocate the entire region’s population to Lehuatlan. Era and his friends, Loana, Vekole, and Okala, were sitting in one of the city’s main squares. The city was enormous, consisting of many stone buildings, temples, a palace, and many more wooden huts. The palace was made of stone and is built on one of Rinoa’s largest hills. Murals cover its walls and carvings of vines wrap around it. Green banners with a yellow insignia swung slowly in the breeze. The insignia was a line with a serif scratched from the upper left to the lower right diagonally with a second line starting from the middle and ending with a serif on the upper right. Stone buildings cover the ground around the palace while wooden bridges and huts wrap around the trees, some suspended from their branches. Aqueducts separate the districts of the city and giant, thick walls surround its limits with sculptures of the mask of Rinoa’s destined “Toa” guardian and Rinoan scouts lined along the top watching the outskirts, some even looking through telescopes. Rinoans of Maverdon and the third city, Mizungol, have built temporary housing wherever they could or stayed with their relatives. Vizuna had a plan if the Kunoma ever successfully sieged Lehuatlan: There were many boats ready to evacuate the population and move to a safer part of the island or, if necessary, the Isle of Belheer, an isle a sizable distance from Rinoa’s coast. Lehuatlan stood strong at the peninsula of Rinoa, with Maverdon and Mizungol abandoned in Rinoa’s center and near the northern border respectively. Era and his friends were looking over the region from one of the city’s small, less populated plazas. All four were disturbed by the threat of losing their homes and their lives.

“This is a load of Maliu-crot,” Loana said, emphasizing his swear and pacing, “Why don’t the Protectors just off this bug already?”

“Apparently, they can’t predict where it would attack. They decided to be on the defensive,” Era replied. Vekole remains quiet as Okala speaks.

“I think they’re doing the right thing. If they got themselves killed, Atlarak’s only got us norma” –Era shoots Okala a look– “well, us non-Protectors to worry about. No offense to our own people, but a giant spider’s a bit much to handle.”

Vekole adds to Okala’s point, “Not to mention Okoto’s adept population has limited control over elemental power compared to the Protectors. Even with numbers, they might lose control.”

“I just think we should at least defend our own villages instead of abandon them. I mean, the entire region’s population is in a cage saying ‘come and get us’. The Kunoma would have a feast,” Loana says.

“It may not be the best solution, Loana, but no solution was desirable. It’s not like the Protectors wanted this,” Era said. Loana started to calm down. Vizuna was listening to the conversation from the other side of the plaza. He already received a message saying that it was time and that the other Protectors were already on their way. However, he wanted to tell Era about another message he just received from Nilkuu: he was lost.

“I think that’s enough discussion for now,” Vizuna told the group. The four were quiet, unable to say anything to reply. “Era, I heard from Nilkuu just now. He’s a little lost. I’m going to the Temple to meet with the others. Could you do me a favor and help Nilkuu get there?”

“Sure, I’ll be with him as soon as possible. Did he leave any leads?”

“Not much, but he said he passed Maverdon already.”

“I’ll do my best,” Era says, leaving the plaza for the city’s outer door. Vizuna looked back at the rest, all three trying to hide their fear.

“Don’t fret. If this works out, Atlarak won’t be a threat anymore.”

Era spent the evening looking for Nilkuu. He resorted to whistling, trying to get a response. He looked through most of the region south of Maverdon with no luck so far. However, when he whistled for the hundredth time, he got a response.

“Over here!” A voice yelled.

“I’ll be right there!” Era yelled back. He followed where the voice came from and saw Nilkuu sitting on a rock, his weapon propped against a tree. “Nilkuu?”

“That’d be me. I’m not used to regions other than my own.”

“Well, Rinoans are used to the dense jungle.”

“Surprised as well, everywhere looks the same no matter where I look. How do you guys get around?”

“Well, not all trees are the same. We’ve memorized some key locations in the jungle since childhood.”

“Well, can you tell me where the Temple of Time is, then?”

“How about I lead you, since you might get lost again.” Era was a bit hesitant, but both he and Nilkuu knew he wasn’t wrong.

“Well then, lead on, navigator,” Nilkuu said, facetiously but with a slight sign of exhaustion. Era and Nilkuu started to walk to the Temple. Era knew the Temple was east of Maverdon and made sure Nilkuu was close by. Nilkuu suddenly asks, “What weapon is that?”

Era was surprised but his question, and asked, “my knife?”

“Yes, is it a specific type?” He seemed as good at conversations as Vizuna.

“Sort of. It’s a Keranag knife. The name means ‘swift claw’.”

“Really? Interesting. Is this your only weapon?”

“Well, I am practicing archery, but I have yet to aim under pressure.”

“Really, then what about that symbol?”

“What symbol?”

“The one on your armor, do you not know what it means? Or the writing, surely you know that, right?”

“Never learned to read,” Era said, surprising Nilkuu.

Nilkuu paused before continuing, “Well, that symbol is the Mark of Accuracy, a famous Rinoan symbol. The writing spells ‘Accuracy’ as well.”

“Really?”

“Yes. It comes from the Rinoan Principle of Faith. You know, Maverda was the first to realize the power of faith, not just in victory, but in her allies and soldiers. I hope I won’t bore you.”

“N-No, not at all,” Era said, almost stumbling over his words. Maybe learning more about Maverda, principles, and marks could help him.

“Well, you know the Three Virtues, right?”

“Of course, Unity, Duty, and Destiny.”

“Well, aspects of a virtue can be used to make a principle, which basically served to be part of our beliefs and held up morale during rough times. Maverda was one of the first to realize and establish a principle, as five others have done. She established the Principle of Faith from the virtues of Unity and Duty: trusting in others and trusting that the future will be bright. She used her faith to fight for a better future, for the sake of future generations if not for her own. To establish a bond with each Okotan, acknowledge differences and work together despite them, and the drive to do their job for the good of the island, from Unity and Duty, Maverda became a powerful and trusted Warrior of Faith. Along with her, five others established principles and became the island’s first Protectors: Hatharra of Valdan, Okotan of Courage, Irua of Aisotl, Okotan of Peace, Netau of Ekuana, Okotan of Purity, Esira of Kolvilith, Okotan of Creation, and Merath of Manatero, Okotan of Prosperity.”

Confused, Era asked, “Wait, Esira embodied Creation? You mean, like Ekimu?”

“A lot of Okotans ask that. Ekimu’s mask, the Mask of Creation, is a legendary mask. The two legendary masks were found by the Mask Makers and used to benefit and protect Okoto. However, these masks weren’t found for a while. In fact, Ekimu and his brother, Makuta, were the first bearers of such masks. Kolvilians still revere Esira as the embodiment of the Principle, and the idea of Creation was around longer than when we had the legendary mask, but Ekimu was known as a powerful being who had the power to create through more mystical means. To put it simply, Esira was known for the principle, Ekimu was known for the power.”

Era nodded, showing he understood. He still wanted to make sure, so he asked, “So how did Esira establish the Principle of Creation?”

“She helped build each city in Kolvilith, made many sculptures, always thought ahead before starting a work of art and was flexible with her plans. Some of these traits translated into combat as well, which brought about the skill, and soon the mark, of Strategy. Others either blindly followed a plan or deviated too much from a plan, and none were as proactive or attentive as she was. By the way, do you know where you’re going?”

Admittedly, Era wasn’t paying much attention, however he noticed a small stone pillar. He asked Nilkuu what it said and Nilkuu read it to Era: “One does not find time, only make it”. Era says, “So it’s a riddle?”

“Sort of, more like an inscription,” Nilkuu replies.

“Well, either way, we seem to be on the right track.”

“What is it with these stones and the quotes, anyways?”

“I heard from Vizuna that those who built the Temple of Time were powerful beings. The stones were dedicated to those deemed worthy by the Mask of Time.”

“What does that mean?”

“I thought you would know,” Era says, noticing that Nilkuu looked a bit more worried. They passed more stone pillars with similar inscriptions, the last of them saying “Time is omniscient, time is neutral, time is created.” After this pillar, they saw a giant stone building. They both knew right away this was the right place. The building had glowing carvings and stood tall on top of a small hill. Approaching the entrance, which had glowing carvings of a mask with inscriptions above and below it, Era and Nilkuu met with the rest of the Protectors.

Nilkuu said, “Sorry, Vizuna, I’m not used to so much vegetation, you know?”

“I understand,” Vizuna says, “Now that we’re all here, we can proceed.” He looks to Era and says, “Era, you can accompany us, but we will need to leave you on the ground floor. I hope you’re okay with that.”

“I’ll be fine,” Era said, barely containing his excitement.

“Well then, shall we?” Vizuna says. Korgot and Nilkuu hold the door open for the Protectors and Era before closing them behind themselves. Era was astonished. Inside the building were many murals, most were of different Okotans wearing the same mask that was carved on the door. Suddenly, a giant mechanism caught Era’s eye. In the middle of the room was a giant pendulum swinging back and forth. The pendulum was a stone held by a rope and swung slightly from side to side, causing an echoed clack with each swing. The inside was almost entirely blue like the glowing carvings that decorated the building. The floor was tiled white except for the few mosaics on the floor. Vizuna nodded at Era, and while Era explored the building, the Protectors continued up a wide set of stairs to the top of the Temple.

On the roof of the temple was a circular altar. Six symbols surround the altar, each one different than the other. The Protectors approached the alter, lifted their arms, and pointed their palms towards the center, where a symbol was displayed. The symbol was a circle with a mark depicting a twisted rope within it. The Protectors closed their eyes, focused their energy, and said the Prophecy of Heroes:
“When times are dark and all hope seems lost, unite, chieftains of the island tribes. Tap into the power of time, and look to the skies” –The Protectors look up and light emits from the altar and their eyes— “The stars will answer your call and six comets will bring heroes from the depths of history to claim their lost masks and awaken the last Mask Maker. United, these heroes will ward against evil and protect the tribes and this island, fulfilling their true destiny.”

As the Protectors recite this passage, the symbols around the altar started to light up, then these symbols appeared on the altar, surrounding the center symbol. Then, dots appeared on these symbols, revealing them to represent constellations. The symbols glowed in six different colors depending on where it was on the altar. Each one had a cryptic meaning, their depictions unknown to anyone. Suddenly, the altar split into six pieces, opening to reveal a mask. It was the Mask of Time. The mask was orange, with four crests protruding from it. Era could feel its power from inside the Temple. The pendulum started to glow, revealing the same symbol from the center of the altar on it. Era decided to run outside. From there, he saw light coming from the roof of the Temple. A beacon shot into the night sky with a loud hum. The ground shook and Era could barely stand, almost tripping running it back inside.

After the Mask of Time returned inside the altar and the beacon dissipated, the Protectors returned to the ground floor where Era was. Era approached them. “Did it work?”

“We’ll have to wait and see,” Narmoto answered.

“Should we continue with the plan?” Kivoda asked Narmoto.

“Of course, return to your capitals at once.” Narmoto stopped Era before he could leave with Vizuna. In a serious tone that seemed out of place coming from Narmoto, he says, “Wait, I have something to ask you.”

“What is it?”

“Nilkuu has told me he’s been having some trouble defending Pojan. Most of his archers have been enslaved by Atlarak, and he was hoping he could use your help.”

“Why my help?”

“He told me about your mark. He believes you have more talent than you let on.”

“I’m not sure if I’m the right person. Maybe Vekol— “

“No time. Listen, Nilkuu told you about the principles, right?”

“Yes.”

“Keep them in mind and follow them. You’ll do fine.”

“Do I not have a choice?”

“It’s up to you. You can go with Vizuna if you don’t want to, or go with Nilkuu if you do. I need to return to Tanasa.” Narmoto leaves as Era struggles to decide what to do.

He walks up to Vizuna and asks, “Vizuna, you heard him, right? What should I do?”

Vizuna, who did hear their conversation, answered, “Well, what do you think?”

“I’m ask— “

“Era, before you say anything, some decisions must be made by you and you alone sometimes. I’ll say this much, some Rinoans and Valdanites have already volunteered to help the Kolvilians. The Kolvilians have their faith in them.”

Era’s mind was overflowing, what should he do? He considered what Vizuna said and focused on a certain word: faith. He remembered what Nilkuu said, how Maverda had faith that all would end well, how she fought for the future of her friends and family. He realized that Nilkuu was putting faith in him. Why him? Something filled Era’s heart with emotion, the same feeling he felt at Maverdon. This feeling, however, was calm and controlled. Clenching his fists, he ran towards Nilkuu, who was leaving. When Nilkuu turned to look at him, Era said, “Need a navigator?” Nilkuu smiled.

“So why are we back here?” Nilkuu asks. Era and Nilkuu returned to Lehuatlan after the summoning, and are waiting near a large hut with birds perched around it. The hut was built on a platform attached to a tree. Nilkuu was confused when Era started walking a different direction from the Temple of Time. Era kept quiet, even after they entered Lehuatlan. “I mean, no offense, the city is nice, but this isn’t the way to Kolvilith.”

“Hang on,” Era says. Another Rinoan walks near Era and the hut. Era says to the Rinoan, “This may take a while.”

“I have all day,” the Rinoan says, “Harvali, proficient in archaeology and Okotan history.” Harvali holds out her fist.

Bumping her fist, Era introduces himself, saying, “Era, proficient in wood carving and awkward interactions.”

Giggling, Harvali looked at the hut before asking, “You heading to Pojan as well?” Era looks at Nilkuu, and Harvali finally noticed him standing there. Stumbling over her words, she said, “Oh, uh, hi there. Sorry, I didn’t, I, uh— “

“It’s okay,” Nilkuu says, “Yes, we’re heading to Pojan. However,” –he turns to Era— “how are we getting there?”

“A Govi bird,” Era answers, “Of course, when I said navigator, I also meant flyer.”

“Ooohh, a first-time flyer,” Harvali said in a teasing manner. Nilkuu gave them both a stern look. Another Rinoan come out of the hut.

“Sorry about that, had to make sure the last two flew safely. So, I’m guessing you two are heading to Kolvilith as well?”

“Yes sir, the Protector of Stone needs a ride to Pojan,” Era says.

Harvali chimes in, “And I’ve been summoned there by the Kolvilian Guard.”

“Interesting. Luckily, I have two very experienced Govi birds for the both of you. Kiva and Ka have flown with the Govi Force for years. They can fly faster than the wind, and hit just as hard, too. Kiva’s the one with the green feathers over there, she’s a Kulo breed, a smaller, more agile bird. Ka’s the black and purple Nelui breed. A larger bird for two Okotans.”

“Me and Nilkuu will fly the Nelui, then. I’ll be the one flying,” Era said.

“Then you’ll have the Kulo. You’ll need some equipment since you’ll be flying without a second to accompany you,” The birdkeeper said. As the birdkeeper and Harvali went into the hut, Era approached the Nelui and reached out to pet it. Ka spread his wings and screamed to try and scare Era away. He flinched, but still inched closer to the bird.

“Careful,” Nilkuu said. Era looked back and nodded. “Have you flown one of those before?”

“Only one other time. Me and Okala flew one to Mizungol once. It wasn’t a smooth ride.”

“Well, that bodes poorly.”

“You could always fly while I take second.”

“No thanks, I’d rather stay the second. I have the better weapon.”

“That reminds me,” Era said, stepping away from Ka, “what kind of weapon is that?”

“My Orlith Staff? It’s a staff that allows me to channel my elemental energy.”

“Really? How so?”

“Well, if sand is gathered into the tubes, I can harden it into sandstones and fire them using compressed air. It’s currently loaded, so we’ll be safe so long as my aim is true. Alternatively, I can channel pure elemental energy through it, but it’ll drain me since I’m literally out of my element.”

“Compressed air? How does that work?”

“Simply put, some sand particles are saved to make a mini-sandstorm inside the main cylinder of the staff. The particles should scrape across the edges and generate heat, which expands the air inside. I keep the sandstones still so pressure builds until I fire them.”

“So, some aspects of air are involved?”

“Some elements can be used in a way to elicit aspects from other elements, that’s what connects them to each other.”

The birdkeeper and Harvali returned from the hut. The birdkeeper approached Era and Ka with instructions, “Okay, some things you need to know before you go. The skies are a bit dangerous to fly in. I already gave some safety equipment and a weapon to Harvali over there,” he gestures to Harvali, who’s carrying a staff and wearing extra armor, “I assume this Protector will be your second?”

“Yes, he already has a weapon,” Era says as Nilkuu holds his staff up.

“Okay, other than that, everything should be fine. Ka won’t let you get hit, but he’s a little stubborn, so be patient.”

“Got it.” The birdkeeper went back to his hut while Era and Nilkuu mount up. Harvali and Kiva have already taken flight, Kiva flapping his wings and staying over the platform. Era yelled to Harvali, “Go on ahead, Nelui birds need more space to takeoff.” Harvali nods and flies off. “Okay, Ka, let’s make this trip fast, buddy.” Ka screeches approvingly.

On the edge of the platform, Ka spreads his wings and concentrates. A green glow shines beneath his wings. A gust builds and Ka raises his wings. Era and Nilkuu hold on tight to the saddle strapped on Ka’s back. A Rinoan with two lightstones who has been guiding Ka raises both lightstones. Ka lowers himself and the gust gets stronger. Era yells, barely being heard by Nilkuu, “How about that, Protector? A bird that makes his own wind beneath his wings!” The Rinoan swings his lightstones down and Ka bursts into flight, causing Era and Nilkuu to almost lose their grip. Nilkuu screams as Ka steadies his wings. Although Ka was going at an amazing speed, it seemed like the trip would still take a while. Okoto below looked as if it was barely moving.

Era and Nilkuu have been flying for a while now. The sun was rising, and Nilkuu got over his fear of heights for the moment. Era has been trying to stay awake the whole trip, sometimes taking short naps before suddenly waking up. He finally resorted to holding his breath when he felt tired hoping the lack of air would make his heart beat faster and keep him awake, careful not to deprive himself of air since they were so high up. Suddenly, something flew by Ka, startling him. Era looked back at Nilkuu, who held his staff and was ready to fire.

“What was that?” Era asked.

“Nothing good,” Nilkuu answered. Ka tried to steady himself when something flew by him again, this time from above.

“See it that time?”

“Yeah, I did.”

“Was it a flying serpent?”

“It’s not Tanasa, I’ll tell you that. It had bat wings.”

“Wait, what?” Another one flew by, almost hitting Ka’s wing.

“They’re trying to—“ One of the creatures suddenly attacked Nilkuu before he could finish. With his back against Ka’s back, Nilkuu saw the creature’s head for a split second before hitting it back with his staff. “They have Kovo on them,” he yelled.

“Are you serious?” Era yelled back. Another one of the creatures hovers near Era. The creature had a terrifying set of sharp teeth and bat wings with claws on them. Its tail was split into two wire-like shapes before converging on a claw. Quickly, Era created a gust in his hand and blasted the creature with it, pushing it back and making it lose altitude before recovering. Two others were catching up to Ka when Nilkuu took a chance: he aimed the tubes of his staff and fired all six sandstones at once. With a loud boom, one of the creatures had their spider knocked off while the other’s wing was wounded. With only one still trailing them, Era gathered more wind. The creature was biting at Ka’s feet when Era outstretched his right arm, hitting the creature again. Hearing a second thud, Era looked back. A giant wasp with four claws, four wings, and two Kovo over its eyes was hit by the creature. It was gaining on them when Era asked, “What is that!?”

“Looks like a Vispex. By the looks of it, it also has a couple of Kovo on it.”

“How do Kovo even get on these things!?”

“They probably catch them while resting, or they drop onto them.” Nilkuu readied himself, pointing his staff towards the Vispex. He focuses as the yellow crystal blades on his staff start to glow. Bolts of energy flashed on Nilkuu’s arm and his staff and a beam of energy fired through the barrel of the staff, hitting the Vispex but not hindering it. Nilkuu started to breathe heavily and held tight as Era patted Ka.

“Ok, buddy, I need you to do me a favor.” Ka, acting as if he read Era’s mind, circled around and flapped his wings hard, creating a huge gust and catching the Vispex off balance. Returning to his original course, Ka kept steady as Nilkuu regained his bearings and aimed at the Vispex again, channeling his energy. Another beam of energy hits the Vispex, this time knocking off both Kovo and causing the Vispex to fall.

Nilkuu sat back up, struggling to catch his breath. “First, the Naiyat, now this. This is bad.”

“Taking a guess, the Naiyat were the bat-winged serpents.”

“Yeah, ever noticed something?”

“The Kovo are taking over the wildlife. You think Atlarak planned this?”

“He definitely doesn’t want anything taking the skies, that’s for sure.”

“Cunning bug.”

“Don’t compliment him please.”

“Just saying, it’s annoying.”

“Indeed.”

Era, Nilkuu, and Ka reached Kolvilith and was approaching Pojan. For a desert city, it was pretty, at least to Era. The city was built from a giant curved mesa. Inside the curve of the mesa, a tall stone wall surrounds a large area with buildings bunched close together. There were buildings lining the walls and the cliff, and inside the cliff was a palace accompanied by more housing. A few domes could be seen and a structure sits in the middle of the city. The structure was another dome with a statue of a scorpion on it. Pillars surrounded the entire mesa. Ka landed on a circular stone platform in the city’s landing area. Different Govi birds were seen there, including Kiva.

Nilkuu told Era, “Okay, from here, we need to walk to the Vila Tribe’s fort village.”

“Walk? Doesn’t Pojan have an abundance of mounts that people can take?”

“Kerageli, and they were allocated to the fort tribes as cavalry. Currently, they’re just reserves.”

“How many were moved to the forts?”

“All of them.” Nilkuu then started walking towards the entrance of the city. Era followed, and the two made their way to the fort-village.

When they entered through the first wall of the fort-village, Era was surprised to see that most of the Kolvilians had an insignia on their chest. The insignia consisted of three lines, the two at each end had a serif that faced the middle line, which was the longest and had an arrow on top of it.

Era asked, “So, which village are these Kolvilians from?”

“Their own. These Kolvilians are from the Vila Tribe, one of the Kolvilian fort-tribes spread across the Ketari Desert.”

“I thought Kolvilith only had four villages.”

“Well, four cooperatively established villages. These villages are the homes of a certain tribe. We call them ‘fort-tribes’ because they live in fortified villages.”

“Sounds like tree-speak.”

“Tree-speak?”

“Yeah, I slip into it sometimes, but being in Maverdon for so long, I’ve lost it overtime. Ironic since Maverdon is the centermost village of Rinoa. It’s basically saying two related words to mean one word.”

“Demonstration?”

“So, what’s with same-etched symbols on chest of Sand-Walkers? And what of swift-running mounts and sting-bug armor? And why be bare-clothed when battle-march approach? Something like that, that’s a thicker version of tree-speak. It’s toned down these days for obvious reasons.”

“Eloquent.”

“It’s fun to speak that way and watch people’s expressions fall into confusion. So—“
“The symbol resembles a scorpion. The fort-village tribes believe the scorpion grants great speed in battle. The Vila are known to be the best cavalry troops, but reinforcements from the Hamora and Shalli tribes came here to help. Fort-tribes also like to wear bone armor made from the exoskeletons of Kopinoma. Again, scorpions. Most of the troops barely wear clothing because it’s hot, for one, and we’re not Valdanites, and besides, warriors from these tribes are adepts as well, so they could make their own armor from stone if need be.”

“Nilkuu,” one Kolvilian says. The Kolvilian was wearing bone armor that was plated at the chest and lower arms. A circular piece of hardened leather was on top of the chest with the same symbol and another piece at the waist. There were inlaid gems in each piece of armor, straps of fabric hung from the waist and the Kolvilian’s mask had crests that were curved back and two slits on each side of the face. “I’m sorry to interrupt, but as the Rinoan said, ‘battle-march’ approaches.”

“I’ll get the warriors ready. Era, this is the grand elder of Kolvilith, Almata Jalkan. Jalkan, this is the Rinoan warrior.”

“Nice to meet you, adept,” Jalkan said, his voice deep and stern.

“Nice to meet you, Almata, I rarely get to meet elders,” Era said.

“Why, are they distant?”

“Sort of.”

“Even Vagera?”

“No, but the other three are.”

“Just like Manatero. Well, in Kolvilith, we visit the villages regularly, usually for some sporting event or to catch up with local talk. Do your elders wear armor?”

“They wear robes.”

“Aww, that’s no fun. Elders don’t always have to look ancient. Kolvilian elders like sporting bone armor to show their feats of battle. It inspires people.”

“I see that. Are those really Kopinoma bones?”

“Let me tell you a secret,” Jalkan said as Era leaned in as well as Nilkuu just to play along, “It just comes from one Kopinoma. Saying it’s from many is an exaggeration.” Era let out a chuckle before Jalkan walked up the hill, gesturing for Nilkuu and Era to follow.

Nilkuu pulls Era aside for a moment saying, “Do. Not. Tell him I got lost. He will never let me live it down.” Era made a gesture, flicking his index finger across his neck, and Nilkuu nodded. The two followed Jalkan to his hut on top of the hill, having to go through two more walls to get there. Era admired the Kolvilian architecture and future-proofing.

Inside the hut, Jalkan and two Vila warriors were sitting. Nilkuu and Era sat as Jalkan began to speak.

“I’ll be honest, Nilkuu, we’re in a deep pit of quicksand. The Kunoma are surrounding us as we speak. When they’ll attack, I don’t know, but I’ve done my best to make sure they do not reach Pojan.”

Nilkuu responds, “I appreciate all you do, Jalkan. Thank you.”

“Adept, what’s your name?”

“Era”, Era says, not prepared for the conversation to turn to him.

“Have you heard of the element of Air, Era?”

“Yes, why?”

“I see, so the Rinoans still keep the tradition alive. Good, the two elements are learning to coexist.”

“What?”

“Era, Rinoans have been going through an identity crisis of sorts for years. Once people of Air, Rinoans are now known as people of Jungle. I believe your elders have something to do with it.”

“What do you mean?”

“How many elders have you heard of?”

“Five.”

“Does Rinoa have five elders?”

“No, the elder of Mizungol was assassinated and replaced by another.”

“When?”

“Around a half-century ago, from what I’ve heard, why?”

“Are you aware of the Rinoan Civil War?”

Nilkuu speaks before Era could respond, “Jalkan, with all due respect, what does this have to do with anything?”

“The boy should know, Nilkuu. The Protectors know, the elders of the other five regions know, even some Rinoans know. He should know as well, just in case.”

“Know what?” Era asked.

“Your people were truly people of Air before that elder took over. After his acceptance, he forced the notion that Rinoans were people of Jungle. Some agreed while others refused. Some saw Air as a weak element, not fit to be among the rest. Others thought that Jungle would uproot Rinoan tradition and culture. One thing led to another and suddenly it all crumbled. So many Rinoans lost in Marka for such a silly conflict. Most of the other elders and the Almata pushed for both to be accepted, but the faith of the Rinoans to their cause was too strong for our words to reach them. But you, you symbolize hope, Era, hope that Air and Jungle can coexist as a new, more peaceful tradition of Rinoa.”

“Jalkan, this doesn’t relate to the battle that approaches,” Nilkuu said, being careful not to offend Jalkan.

“On the contrary, the fort-tribes and the people of the Kolvilith cities are starting to have a conflict of their own, I’m afraid. The fort-tribes feel they aren’t acknowledged or appreciated enough and want to break off from the rest of the Stone tribes as a new group of Sand tribes. I feel tensions are growing between the four cities and the fort-tribes. I need you, Era, to show that the fort-tribes are being acknowledged. I have troops from Pojan to accompany you.”

“Wait, I’m leading them?” Era said.

“Yes, I want you to show how well Kolvilians can fight together, no matter the tribe they hail from.” Suddenly, a loud boom shakes the hut. All five run out and see a line of smoke. “What is that?”

“Should I go check, elder?” One of the guards asks.

“You may, hurry and be careful.”

“I’ll go with you,” Nilkuu said.

2 Likes

My dreams were nothing but darkness. My body is so weak that it broke into pieces. My memories are gone, vanished into time. Only one thing has repeated itself to me for as long as I can remember: Pohatu.

A meteor sat in a crater near the shore of the region. Smoke emitted from its surface when more blew out from a circular crevice. The meteor cracked, and the circular piece flew from the meteor, pieces of metal limbs and armor flying with it, landing on the sand. The inside of the meteor was metal as well, containing many strange symbols. For a moment, the pieces lay dormant. A being, only consisting of a torso, a right arm, a left leg, and a head, lay for a moment before its eyes and head glowed yellow. He used his strength to lift himself to a sitting position, looking around at pieces of himself. He starts to rebuild his body, putting together his left arm, right leg and foot, and his left foot. Each piece he put back was grabbed by mechanical wires and started to grow organic tissue. When the being’s body was whole and its organic matter fully restored, he started donning his armor.

First, he picked up his silver body armor and placed it against himself. The armor attached to him like a magnet, parts shifting and waiting to be completed. The being picked up the other half of the body armor and positioned it in line with his back. The armor drew itself to his body and attached to the armor on his front, wrapping the being’s lower torso in silver armor. Then, he grabbed and put on what seemed to be a bunch of cloth. He wrapped it around his hips and put on a belt to hold it in place. The being then noticed and put on grey armor, which seemed to be hardened leather and attached itself to the being’s chest and wrapped under his arms, fitting around the gear attached to the being’s back. The being then did the same with his grey thigh armor and silver leg and feet armor. The feet armor was grey with silver additions attached and under the leg armor were leg wrappings. On his left arm was a silver armguard fastened by straps. On his right arm was a silver shoulder guard and grey armguard, the lower half having two bone horns attached to it. The being saw two boomerangs and a dagger. He picked up the dagger and instinctively placed it on his back, where the hilt magnetically attached itself to the silver armor. The being picked up the boomerangs, folded them straight, and attached them to his back.

Finally, the being saw a mask. The mask was grey like the being’s leather armor, and had a unique look to it. When the being picked up the mask, he was drawn to it. This mask belonged to him and only him. He put on the mask, unleashing the elemental power it had. The grey pieces of armor and the mask turned brown, his right arm and lower legs bearing glowing yellow tattoos. The being felt the power of the element of Stone coursing throughout his body, rocks hovered around the being. When the being lifted his hand, the surrounding rocks fell except for a boulder. When the being pushed his arm forward, towards the boulder, the boulder was propelled in that direction, striking the ground and throwing sand up. The being then felt a different power, a power contained in his mask. Concentrating on this feeling, everything suddenly slowed down. The being started to run, everything seemed slow, even the sand that the being kicked up. The being kept running across the desert until . . .

“Look out!” the Kolvilian yelled. Nilkuu and the Kolvilian have been following smoke on Kerageli, horned quadruped beasts, as fast as they could until something flew past them, kicking enough sand up to hide itself. When the sand cleared, a being stood among the two Kolvilians. Both of them dismounted and saw that the being was tall, as tall as the Kerageli. He was panting, looking tired and confused.

Nilkuu asked the being, “Who are you?”

“I know nothing but the name ‘Pohatu’. The word is burned into my mind. Is this who I am?”

“You are Pohatu? Are you sure?”

“I know nothing else,” the being said genuinely, scared Nilkuu wouldn’t believe him, “I only know that my name is Pohatu and some power in my mask allows me to reach great speed.”

Both Nilkuu and the Kolvilian guard was surprised, and the guard immediately kneeled. Nilkuu, however, wasn’t so convinced. “If you are truly Pohatu, Toa of Stone, then you’ll need to prove it.”

“With all due respect, Protector, the Kunoma will be attacking Vila any moment now. I trust him to help us,” the guard said. Nilkuu just nods and mounts his Kerageli again.

The being approached the guard, who was also mounting, and asked, “What is your name, kind one?”

“Huki, I am the Almata’s right hand man.”

“I appreciate your kindness, Huki.”

Nilkuu asks the being, “Hey! If you’re done talking, look to the sky!” Huki and the being look to see a giant cloud of dust coming from where Huki and Nilkuu came from.

“Oh no.”

Jalkan walks Era to a group of decorated Okotans who are preparing their troops. “Era, these are the captains the region has given us. They are the best in their field. I suggest talking to them and coming up with a strategy.” As he left, Era walked up to the captains.

One of them, wearing a Ruru mask, noticed him and walked up to Era, holding up his fist. As Era bumped it, he said, “Hello, Rinoan, I’m Kavi. I’ll be looking over the adepts for this battle. Your Rinoan adepts are really friendly, I must say. Less hot-headed, no offense to the Valdanites.”

“I feel I have no power over that, but thank you,” Era responded.

Another, wearing a Matatu mask, said, “Inesh, I lead the spearmen. It’s a taxing responsibility, so sorry if I seem aggressive.”

“It’s not a problem, nice to meet you, Inesh."

The next, wearing a Huna mask, said, “I’m Vikara. I’ll be leading the bludgeoners. Don’t worry, they’re not as mean as their name is.”

“Nice to meet you."

The last, wearing a Pakari mask, said, “I lead the Kerageli cavalry. My name’s Kusa.”

"Glad to meet you, so what am I doing?”

“Well,” Kavi starts, “We need a way to prepare for the Kovo swarming us. The Kopinoma will probably try to destroy the walls. You, Era, will be leading the archers and, whenever convenient, assist me since we’re both adepts.”

“So, what’s the plan so far?” Era asks.

“We were thinking of surrounding the perimeter with spearmen and having the archers, adepts, and clubs behind them while the cavalry rushes in,” proposed Inesh.

Era makes a face of disapproval, saying, “That doesn’t sound safe. With the amount of troops we seem to have, that would be a thin line. The cavalry rushing in would also be a bad idea considering they’d be running into the archer’s fire,” Era said. The others nodded their heads. He then asked, “Do we have shields?”

“We have enough tower shields for the spearmen, but we would be short of shields for the rest,” Inesh said.

“Hmm,” Era said, “What do they look like?”

“They’re giant ovals with two half-circles on each side,” Vikara said.

Era looked around and saw giant circular metal ornaments lining the walls. “What are those things?”

“Those are the Shields of Golems. We believe golems used them when they inhabited the island,” Vikara said.

“Ok, this might sound crazy, but maybe we can use them?”

“How? It would take a group of troops just to carry one," said Kusa.

“That, and they’re important relics of the fort-tribes,” Inesh said. She had a passionate tone accompany her outburst.

Era replied, “I understand, however, this is a desperate moment. I’m thinking that we can get soldiers to carry that above a team of shielded spearmen. They can surround the ones carrying the golem shield and protect them.”

Inesh said in the same tone, “You plan to use rare artifacts as giant targets? Why would we need a shield over our heads anyways? Are the Kovo learning how to fly?”

“Inesh,” Kavi said, trying to calm her down.

“No, I am not letting him use our relics. They are the only things we have that remind us that we’re a part of this island.”

“And I just want to hear this out. If he has a reason for using them, he’ll say it, otherwise we’ll move to the next idea.”

“Kavi, hang on,” Era said, noticing that he raised his voice. He faced Inesh and said, “Inesh, I’m guessing you’re the only one from a fort-tribe.”

Inesh nodded and said, “It’s just we’ve had so much trouble getting resources these past years. Most of it goes to the cities and sometimes they give us mere morsels, if they’re generous. We’ve had to fend for ourselves all this time.”

“Inesh, there’s a bit of dissension while we’re on the verge of battle. If this keeps up, the Kunoma will be here already.” Era notices that Inesh is on the verge of tears herself. He puts his hand on her shoulder and says, “Hey, we need you, Kolvilith needs you. You are the leader of the spearmen. If this works, the fort-tribes could be acknowledged.” It wasn’t getting much better. “Hey, the cities reached out to you for help, that has to count for something. Jalkan told me about the situation between the fort-tribes and the cities. If this conflict happens, the Kunoma would take over this region swiftly. However, if Kolvilith stays unified, Atlarak can be defeated.”

Inesh replies, “And what if this plan doesn’t work, will people blame us?”

“I’ll take the blame. It’s my idea. I don’t want the Kopinoma smashing our troops with boulders or the Kovo trapping them. And what if there are taken wildlife in the field? I don’t know this region, the wildlife here could be worse than what I’ve seen.”

“Wait, the Naki are being—“ Kavi started to say before Vikara bumped his shoulder as a sign to stop talking.

Era continued, “Like I said, I just want to make sure we win this. Pojan is counting on a fort-tribe, putting faith in a fort-tribe, to defend it. I don’t want us to lose an entire tribe to these monsters.”

“I can’t believe you’re so passionate about our people. Thank you, you’re right, we’ll win this as Kolvilians, as the people of Stone,” Inesh said.

“I just, I don’t want any more villages to be destroyed, especially if I’m the one witnessing it.”

“Well, what’s the rest of your idea, then?”

Outside Vila, the Kunoma have consolidated in front of the fort, sending forces to surround it. The lookouts noticed that more Naki, the Okotan wildlife, have been taken over by the Kunoma. Large mammalian creatures with blades at the end of their forearms and at the end of their tail and giant spines on their back, known to Okotans as Rakuma, walked with the Kopinoma. Sand Maruhi, wolves with grey-brown coats of fur and small orange plates on its body, were also spotted, both Naki with Kovo on their face. The Kerageli warriors have already gotten into formation in from of the fort.

As the Kunoma and Naki approached, a guard at Vila shouts, “NOW!!!”

All over the fort, troops were yelling, “OPEN THE GATES!! READY FORMATIONS!!” Suddenly, as the gates of the fort opened, one by one, groups of soldiers walked out to the desert to ready themselves. There were around six groups, four soldiers held the golem shields up while ten to twelve spearmen held their shields up, slits cut into them and spears resting from the holes made from the shield wall. The groups stood beside each other behing the Kerageli before more troops, some with wooden, triangular clubs and a flint blade attached, moved along with the groups. Kavi, Inesh, Kusa, and Vikara were all out on the field with their troops. Kusa signaled for the Kerageli to move to a half-circle formation along the fort, two lines of Kerageli at the ready. Era and his troops had their bows ready, lined on top of the first wall of the fort.

As the battle of Vila began, Era shouted, “When I fire, you fire. Ready yourselves!” Rinoans and Kolvilians alike aimed their bows at the advancing Kovo, the front lines of the wave of bugs and Naki. When Era aimed, everything slowed down. His armor was shining, the symbol and letters glowing. He aimed at a Kopinoma’s head and fired. The shot landed on the back of its head, causing its head armor to break into pieces and fall and killing it. The rest followed suit, firing among the Kovo and Kopinoma. Era then screamed, “Watch your aim! May no Okotan or Naki fall to your arrows! Aim for the Kovo and lighten the load!” The archers followed orders and directed their aim to the advancing Kovo, which were falling with each salvo.

After the formations moved forward, the back line of the Kerageli ran around the formations. The Kerageli formed and circle and ran around the formations, picking off the Kovo running towards them. For each Kopinoma, a group would circle around it, stabbing at it until it was subdued. The formations were preparing themselves, ready for the moment the Kunoma strike them. Boulders flung by the Kopinomas’ tails clashed onto the golem shields, the Okotans holding them struggling, but recovering with each impact. The teams of Okotans outside the formations were groups of six. Two were adepts, one a Rinoan or Valdanite and the other a Kolvilian, while the four were soldiers with clubs. The adepts were drowning the Kovo in sand and suffocating them, some teams were having their bludgeoners stand clear while a Valdanite and Kolvilian adept combine sand and fire, firing glass shards at the Kunoma at a low angle so as to not hit the Kerageli. The bludgeoners were keeping the Kovo away from the adepts. Boulders keep hitting the golem shields, as if the Kopinoma were aiming for them.

“Big targets indeed,” Inesh said to herself.

“Say what you will, we have their attention. The adepts and Kerageli should be safe for now,” A Kolvilian guard says.

The Kovo soon reached and attacked the formations, some being impaled by the spearmen, others squished by their shields or kicked away. When a Kopinoma broke through the Kerageli and reached a formation, an adept yells, “Cage ‘em!” Nearby adepts cooperate and make a stone wall encircling the formation and Kopinoma, and as the formation breaks, the back troops moving to position themselves around the Kopinoma and jabbing their spears at it. The shield-bearers kept out of the walls, moving in front and tilting the shield as a boulder gets close to smashing the wall down, hitting the shield. The soldiers inside kept stabbing the Kopinoma until one soldier disabled its tail.

The Kopinoma was then stabbed in the neck and killed, and the soldiers yelled, “This one’s down!” The walls fall as the shield is carried up and the soldiers return to formation. This process repeats with every Kopinoma, however the Rakuma started to swing their tails, some of them knocking Kolvilian soldiers away. The Rakuma keep jabbing the ground trying to get the soldiers, sometimes succeeding.

A Valdanite adept held his hand out, shooting fire constantly at the Kovo on a Rakuma’s face. When the Kovo fell, the Rakuma fled, its face partially burned. A Kolvilian yells, “Watch it, you could hurt the beast!”

“I got the job done, let’s keep going!”

“Not until you make sure to be more careful! I don’t want to get the same treatment!”

“You can’t fix what isn’t broken!”

Kavi hurries to the adepts, yelling, “Valdanite, watch your fire! Kolvilians–" Kavi notices another Rakuma and kicks a stone at its face, hitting the Kovo spot on and knocking it off, then continues, "Let’s keep moving!” The adepts, intimidated, follow orders as more Rakuma approach.

Kusa was struggling to keep the cavalry together. The formation crumbled and lost coherency. Warriors on Kerageli were scattered all over the battlefield jabbing at Kovo with spears as if they were fishing. Kusa looked and noticed that some warriors were too far, and yelled, “Riders, pull back!” The warriors heard and luckily made it back before a salvo of arrows hit the Kovo they were fighting.

One warrior asked Kusa, “What do we do? We lost our formation.” Kusa thought and looked at where Era was. He waved his spear hoping he would see, the others keeping Kunoma away.

Era saw Kusa and yelled, “Hold your fire 'till I fire!” The archers followed orders reluctantly before seeing the Kerageli engage the Naki. Kusa and the Kerageli fought with the Rakuma and Maruhi. The Maruhi tore through some of the Kerageli, leaving dismounted warriors to try and fight them. Kusa realized this and wanted to retreat, however the salvos started up again. Suddenly, a Maruhi killed Kusa’s Kerageli, knocking Kusa to the ground. Soon, Kusa was facing a Maruhi that was bearing its teeth. Kusa focused and kept a fierce grip on his spear. The Maruhi tried to knock the spear off, but Kusa resisted, backing up as the Maruhi moved closer. When the Maruhi struck, Kusa dodged, losing his spear to the Maruhi’s jaws. While the Maruhi chewed the spear, Kusa climbed onto its back and reached the Maruhi’s head, ripping the Kovo off. The Kovo suddenly attacked Kusa, knocking off his mask and putting itself on his face as the Maruhi dropped the spear and froze in fear, realizing the battle happening around it.

Meanwhile, the archers keep firing on the Kunoma, however, Era noticed that the arrows were getting close to the Okotans. He yells, “Hold fire! Hold fire! Move to the field and prepare for arch-fire!” As the archers go, Era notices in the distance that Kusa’s been taken over. He aims his bow without thinking, and everything slows down again. There could be a million things in Era’s mind, but there was nothing, nothing but his shot. His heart beat and Era let go. The bolt struck the Kovo, and as the Kovo fell, Kusa returned to his normal self. As he put his mask back on, Era followed his archers into the field. They run close to the formations, group into teams and choose a group to cover. Era stayed behind Inesh’s group, yelling the command to resume firing. Packs of Maruhi started targetting the formations, making the spearmen struggle. Archers started to try and shoot the Kovo off the Maruhi, some to no avail. The bludgeoners try to get close, some Rinoan adepts try and trap them, realizing they were out of their element and couldn’t summon vines.

Kusa was still recovering when he realized the Maruhi was still. He got off it, picked up his spear, and looked it in the eyes. The Maruhi was scared, until Kusa put his hand on its head. Kusa started talking to it, saying, “Hey, we’re in danger here. You need to get out of here, okay?” The Maruhi started to calm down. Kusa spoke again, “Go on. Go. I’ll make sure you get away safely.” The Maruhi said nothing, but became inspired by Kusa’s bravery and kindness. A Rakuma attacked Kusa, but was hindered by the Maruhi biting its arm. The Maruhi let go and the Rakuma was about to try and hit it with its tail, but the Maruhi charged first and hit the Rakuma in the stomach, causing it to writhe. The Maruhi bit the Kovo off the Rakuma, shook it back and forth, then threw it down and smashed it. Then, as the Rakuma fled, it threw Kusa on its back. Kusa repositioned himself and said in a shocked tone, “Hey, wha- you’re in danger.” The Maruhi looked at Kusa as if it was saying to Kusa that it knew it was in danger. Kusa, understanding what the Maruhi is trying to do, rode back to the shielded formations as the archers were moving to the field.

Kavi, noticing that the shields were struggling with the Maruhi, thought quick, yelling, “Hold their legs! Use the sands to hold them!” The Kolvilian adepts tried, raised sand to the Maruhi’s legs and compacted the sand, making it solid. The Maruhi couldn’t move, and the bludgeoners dispatched of the Kovo easily, staying clear of the Maruhi’s jaws. The Kolvilian adepts did the same technique to the Rakuma, trapping them and letting the archers shoot the Kovo off their faces. Era noticed that a formation was struggling, two Kopinoma were bashing on the golem shield, cracking it. One grabbed it with its tail and flung it into the ground, injuring the Okotans holding it and breaking the shield. The spearmen scattered and tried to surround it, however, they kept getting knocked down by the Kopinoma, a couple were cut in half by its tail, arms separated and in the sand colored black. Cries of pain reached the captains and the rest of the soldiers, some were caught off guard. As more Naki fled, the Kopinoma started to push back aggressively. The distracted soldiers struggled as Vikara ran to the two Kopinoma, which cleared the formation almost completely. Vikara swung the club blade first at a Kopinoma’s leg, causing it to tilt and allowing Vikara to stab the back of its head with the blade of her club, killing the first Kopinoma. The second noticed her and charged, but Vikara rolled to the side and jumped, stepped on the Kopinoma’s leg, landed on its back and hit its tail. She then brought the club down on the head, breaking the Kopinoma’s armor and killing it. A Rakuma was about to smash her when Kavi trapped its legs in hardened sand. Kusa rode in and jabbed the Rakuma in the back, and Vikara climbed the Rakuma and hit the Kovo with the blunt end of her club, then ripped it off the Rakuma’s face and threw it to the ground. When the Rakuma was freed and Vikara jumped off, she squished the Kovo into the sand.

Era screamed, “Keep your distance!” and started to back up, his soldiers following. They kept shooting every Kovo on sight. Despite one of the formations being mostly wiped away, another breaking, and the rest struggling, the Kopinoma seem to be retreating. Era, however, didn’t let his guard down. “Keep firing! Don’t let a single Kunoma escape!” he yelled. Exhausted, the formations started to lose coherency. Era yelled, “Tilt the shields! Adepts, make stone pillars to hold them up!” The soldiers followed orders and others who were watching did the same. The warriors were hiding behind the shields as boulders kept landing close or hitting the shields. Kavi and Vikara looked around, trying to find Inesh. She was struggling with a Kopinoma on the other side of the field, her formation exhausted and scared by the screams of their comrades. Inesh was facing the Kopinoma alone, trying to disable its tail. She couldn’t get around the Kopinoma and it grabs Inesh, making her drop her spear and shield. She starts screaming for help when Era aims and fires, getting the Kopinoma’s attention when the arrow bounces off its back. The Kopinoma throws Inesh and charges at Era. Before the Kopinoma reached him, and before he could react, Kavi made a stone pillar for the Kopinoma to crash into. The pillar shatters and the Kopinoma is killed by a salvo of arrows from the archers. As the archers continued to fire, the soldiers started to consolidate into improptu formations.

Suddenly, as the captains meet up and the soldiers finish regrouping, the ground starts to shake. Vikara knew right away what the quake entailed. “Virakama. Virakama!”

“Ready yourselves!” Kavi screamed. He and the other captains prepared themselves. Kavi and Era prepared by gathering elemental energy, their tattoos glowing. Inesh picked up a spear from the ground, dropped by a fallen Kolvilian, and got into a stance. Vikara positioned her club in front of her. Kusa held his spear while his Maruhi growled.

Pohatu, Huki, and Nilkuu approached the battlefield, horrified by the carnage. Dead Kovo covered the sands, some Kovo legs were sticking up from the ground while others were separated from its bodies. Kopinoma and Kerageli littered the ground, black colored the field like paint from Kunoma, Naki, and Okotan alike. Naki, including surviving Kerageli, limped away in fear. Okotans lay dormant, some beneath debris or boulders, others cut in pieces. The three spotted the captains preparing themselves. Huki suddenly sees Jalkan walking up to them and points him out to Nilkuu. Suddenly, a large beast emerged from the ground, kicking sand up and covering its appearance. A club-like thing quickly punched a tilted shield into shards of wood and metal, wiping most of the warriors under it out, killing them with the debris. When more fled from the attack, the beast walked away from the sand, revealing itself.

“Great Spirit protect us,” Kavi said.

“Don’t worry, Kavi,” Jalkan said, “If he doesn’t, the Toa will.” The group turns to look and sees Nilkuu, Huki, and Pohatu. Warriors looked as well, their hearts filled with zeal once again. The beast, with muscular forearms that ended in a club-like shape, two legs with clawed feet, a long tail, a reptilian head with a Kovo on it, colored tan, black, and yellow, noticed the captains and the Almata. As it roars, most of the warriors started to scream back. Pohatu readied himself as Huki and Nilkuu noticed that the Kunoma were returning.
Era yelled, “Okotans, as people of this great island, stand with me and fight for an era of peace!”

Jalkan lined up among the captains and yelled, “May the spirits of the celestial realms watch over our feats at this very moment! We will fight to our deaths for our future, for our island, for the Great Spirit, King of All Spirits!” A wave of yells from the remaining warriors caused the beast to roar and Pohatu’s mind to run rapidly.

These beings fight for their home and devote themselves to a point where death is an afterthought. A home. What is a home? Do I have a home? Is this my home? This place I’ve arrived at, this place woke up in? One look at me and these beings, previously exhausted and hopeless, scream to the skies. Are they calling me? Is this truly my home? If so, what will I do this moment? This moment. A moment. I can slow this moment, act in this moment. A familiar feeling of belonging is causing me to act. I am these beings, these warriors. This is my home. I am certain now. I am a part of this island. THIS IS MY HOME. THESE ARE MY PEOPLE. THIS BEAST WILL KILL MY PEOPLE NO MORE. THESE INSECTS WILL TREAD OVER MY HOME NO MORE. Great spirit, help me. Make me fast enough, strong enough. My destiny has been realized. I WILL PROTECT MY PEOPLE, MY HOME.

Pohatu’s mask glowed and he swiftly ran between the captains and the beast. The Virakama roared at Pohatu as he said, “Keep these insects away from us! Understand?’ The group nods as Pohatu spots a stone, kicks it up with the tip of his foot addition, and kicked it again, hitting the Virakama’s chest and angering it. Jalkan yelled, “Charge at the Kunoma, let the Toa fight the Virakama!” The warriors, with voices that can be heard around the island, ran with spears, clubs, and elemental energy at the ready. Kolvilians, Rinoans, and Valdanites alike charged at the Kunoma. Huki and Nilkuu also charged into the battlefield, Nilkuu’s Orlith staff firing at the wave of Kunoma.

As the Okotans fought the Kunoma, Pohatu ran around the beast and gathered sand, compacting it to a shape of a ball. He throws it up and kicks it at the Virakama’s leg, injuring it. Moving slower now, the Virakama turns and punches the ground, throwing up sand and debris, injuring nearby Kunoma and Okotans, its tail striking the ground, hurting more warriors. Pohatu crossed his arms, his armor catching most of the debris, and ran to the Virakama’s arm, grabbing on and letting go when the arm retracted, landing on the Naki’s back. The beast was struggling to hit Pohatu, resorting to constantly trying to shake him off. Pohatu made his way to the Naki’s head when the Virakama smashed his head to the ground, knocking Pohatu off. Pohatu stomps on the ground, creating a cloud of dust around him and the Virakama. When the Virakama tried to grab Pohatu with its jaws, Pohatu stepped back, grabbed the ground, broke off a part of it and threw it at the Virakama’s head, loosening the Kovo. Pohatu then ran around the Virakama, creating a column of sand. The Virakama lost balance, then started to float. Pohatu stopped, then raised both hands to the sky, stopping the sand particles in place and dropping the Virakama. He compacted the sand into a ramp and walked up it. As the Virakama raised itself up, its head positioned near the end of the stone ramp, Pohatu jumped and kicked the Kovo off the beasts face, knocking the beast out. When Nilkuu noticed the beast had fallen, he and some other warriors ran and dragged the Virakama towards the fort.

Pohatu then yelled, “Get behind me now!” The Okotans, including the captains and Jalkan, ran back towards the fort as Pohatu gathered energy. In the fort, glyphs and murals glowed as well as the designs on the abandoned golem shields. Pohatu’s tattoos glowed yellow and a yellow aura surrounded his entire body. The Kunoma were charging towards Pohatu with only the Kopinoma and Kovo left. A wave of insects moved and Pohatu breathed in. He breathed out. Then, he jumped and stomped the ground as hard as he could, staggering anything around him. Some Okotans fell from the impact before getting back up and retreating. The Kunoma were stunned as Pohatu pushed his hands forward. The sight was unbelievable, something no Okotan has ever seen before. From the sand kicked up from the impact, a dust storm formed. Then, the storm was blown towards the still Kunoma. The sky was blocked out and the area was darkened. While the storm was weaker around the fort, the storm was at its worst in front of Pohatu. Some Kovo were buried and suffocated under the sand, while some still attempted to get to him. Pohatu concentrated, the aura around him getting stronger. Bolts of yellow energy struck many Kunoma, killing them on impact. The Okotans, who couldn’t see much from the fort, could only hear loud booms and see flashes of bright yellow. Suddenly, bolts emitted from Pohatu himself, striking across the ground, wiping out most of the Kovo. The bolts hit the Kunoma, killing most of them.

Finally, Pohatu’s aura started to wane. The bolts ceased and the storm calmed. The sky was visible again and the Okotans could see Pohatu, his energy lowering and returning to normal. Never has anyone seen power like his, even Jalkan was in awe. When some Kopinoma started to rise up, about to charge Pohatu, He started kicking rocks at the walls of the fort, aiming at the cliff so as to avoid weakening the walls. The rocks ricocheted off the cliff walls and hit some Kopinoma. When some were still standing, Pohatu kicked more stones that ricocheted off pillars of stone, the ones who were meant to keep the shields up, and killed the remaining Kunoma.

Pohatu stood still, trying to calm himself down. Huki was the first to run and approach him, Nilkuu and Jalkan behind him. Soon, the rest of the Okotans approached and kneeled down. Jalkan walked past Huki and kneeled, saying, “Toa Pohatu, Toa of Stone, we Okotans are forever grateful for your actions. Without you, the Battle of Vila would have been lost, and Pojan would have been in great danger. Come to my tent inside the fort when you are ready to talk.”

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As Jalkan stands and walks back, so do the warriors. However, Huki just stood as Pohatu walked up to him.

Pohatu said to him, “I hope this makes us even.” Huki could only smile. Pohatu chuckles and said, “For now, let’s put this behind us. I landed on this island only moments ago and right away I see death and violence. I would enjoy a few moments of rest if it’s all the same to you.”

“I would like to take some time to rest, sure.”

As Huki and Pohatu walked towards the fort, Pohatu heard rustling behind him. He turned and saw a Manateran carrying a spear and a large, round shield. The Manateran was riding a crab before he dismounted and looked around. Era noticed the Manateran as well and ran towards him. Pohatu walked slowly up to him, noticing an expression of terror behind his mask. When Era approached the two, he walked to the Manateran, asking, “Who are you? Are you alright?”

“I’m sorry, I was too late!” the Manateran said, “I wanted to help and came here as fast as I could. My village came along as well,“ A herd of crabs carrying armed Manaterans arrived, and the Manateran continued, “We wanted to help, but I guess we were too late. I am so sorry, there’s so many fallen Okotans here. We should’ve left earlier, I tried to get the elders to let us go sooner.”

Pohatu kneeled and put his hand on the Manateran’s shoulder and asked, “What’s your name, brave one?”

“Midak, I care for the Ussori we used to ride here.”

“I appreciate the kindness you and your village wanted to show to these people. I apologize that you travelled all the way here just to see the aftermath. If there’s anything you need, I can help you.”

Era stepped in, “If the Almata of Stone lets me, I will assist you as well.”

“Well, we do need help, if it’s no trouble of course. Some miners from our village, Riftanga, are trapped in a Lightstone Mine by a river of lava that broke out. Luckily, everyone survived, but the miners don’t have a lot of rations left.”

Pohatu said to Midak, “Well, how about you and your friends rest at the fort before you return?”

“That would be nice,” Midak said, “Thank you, kind Toa.”

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