A young Izotor stares at the map of Ihu, focused on a valley with ice monoliths jutting out. He then peers up at his old mentor Nuju, who’s eyebrow has been raised in skepticism for the entirety of the young prince’s lesson.
Izotor clears his throat.
“Is it… the Razor Tundra?” he meekly asks.
Nuju shakes his head, a string of short clicks emitting from his mouth. The mentor points to the spot and gives a couple of whistles.
Izotor nods, “Ohh… the Valley of Reflections-.”
A rapid series of clicks.
“Oh, sorry; Valley of Mirrors.”
Nuju goes on a long series of clicks and tweets, with Izotor trying to focus in on what his frustrated mentor was lecturing him on.
Wrong… study… responsibility… prince… king.
Yep. As expected.
Nuju, finishing his scolding, brashly folds away the map and gestures towards the door. Izotor gives an apologetic bow before briskly walking to the exit.
He emerges into a large wooden hall, chandeliers made of old Rahi bones holding up lightstones. Their yellow glow shines off the many hanging swords; particularly his father’s ceremonial sword. Its sharp point aims to the stone throne.
Izotor never really liked the throne. It was beautifully crafted; carvings of ancient Ihuian warriors holding the armrests while the backrest bore frozen spikes and the skull of a Kane-ra bull.
And yet those empty eyes always stared into Izotor’s soul, whispering the words his father, Nuju, and many other servants have told him countless times.
One day, you shall take the throne as King of Ihu.
The prince peels his eyes away from the haunting throne and flees to the main doors.
The doors open with a loud creaking noise, the chains clashing against the iron bolts. Izotor stares out ahead of him.
The large hall, that they call Ískonungur, stands atop a jutting ledge with two paths descending down to the kingdom below. The wooden buildings create circle formations around the ship-like cliff, ending near the icy gates. From where he stood, the Ihuians that walk through the rocky paths looked like small insects.
He slightly jumps when a hand suddenly rests on his shoulder.
“So,” a husky voice chuckles behind him, “is there a reason why you fled the library as fast a frost beetle flees a visorak?”
Izotor shifts his weight around shyly, “Hello, faðir.”
Matoro, King of Ihu, walks forward and kneels down beside the young prince.
“Not a good lesson today?”
Izotor averts his eyes from his father’s knowing look.
“… no.” comes the small reply.
Matoro pats his son’s shoulder, “Don’t be upset, sonur minn. You are a smart young Ihuian; I have much faith that you will know everything of Ihu in no time.”
Izotor pouts, “You always say that.”
“And I will continue to, because it is true, Izotor,” the king says, a gentle smile spreading across his face.
He stands back up, his red-furred cloak swaying gently in the icy breeze.
“Come. It is almost time for our midday meal.”
He gestures to inside, rubbing the top of Izotor’s mask as the prince re-enters the great hall.
_“Get the guard and have that traitor arrested!”_ _“Someone get some bandages! The prince is injured!”_ _“Secure Ískonungur, make sure there’s no one else!”_ Izotor is lying on the floor, looking up at the ceiling in a daze. Some servants shout orders, one holds his head and dabs a cloth above his right eye. Half the room is darkness. Izotor can’t see the matoran holding his head. His head throbs with the sound of his own heart, pain surging from his face. The obsidian dagger lies on the floor, failed to complete its villainous task. Its owner is held down by a number of guards, his brutish size making it troubling for the guards to secure him. His father stands nearby, clutching his wounded right arm. “Take this _dýrið_ and dump him into the Razor Tundra. Maybe a Muaka will end his torment quickly.” The Ihuian thrashes against the guards. “You know I deserve the throne, not that sniveling piece of-” Matoro’s fist cracks against the Ihuian’s mask. “Speak ill of my son again,” the Ice King growls, “and you’d be _wishing_ a Muaka would eat you, Kaulus.” With that, the traitor is dragged out of the room. Matoro turns and crouches beside the servant tending Izotor. “_Sonur minn;_ is he going to be ok?” Concern strangles his voice. “He will be alright, _Konungur Minn,_ but…” She takes the cloth off of Izotor’s eye. Matoro silently gasps. “... We cannot fix this,” she says sadly. “I don’t think even the best medication from Tiro can fix this.” Matoro closes his eyes solemnly. His cloak then descends gently onto his son like a blanket. The Ice King has never felt so cold.
Izotor picks up a spear, weighing it in his hand. Matoro waits beside him with his own spear.
“Ready?” Matoro asks.
Matoro smiles. It still is a strange sight for the king; it felt like a few years ago his son came up to his waist. But now…
Now stood a stoic figure, almost as tall as him; his black cape flowing in the cold wind, his unique mask zooming in and out with the telescopic attachment, and a look of confidence that Matoro never found in the prince’s early years.
Izotor had grown into a true Ihuian ruler.
The prince pulls his arm back, his lens adjusting to focus on the target ahead of him.
He takes a deep breath.
With lightning speed, he launches the spear towards the target. It gracefully spirals through the air before piercing the wooden board with a mighty crack!
Izotor gives an elusive smirk.
Matoro readies his spear, chuckling.
“Ó elskan, you’ve raised the expectations quite high, sonur. Let’s see if still have it in me.”
He throws the spear. It is not as gracefully as Izotor’s, wobbling in the air; yet the spear hits its mark, a little right of his son’s.
“I guess you still have it, faðir,” Izotor remarks.
Matoro slightly winces, holding his right arm.
“I think I might have overdone it; I have to remember that I’m not as young as I used to be.”
The prince’s smile disappears slightly, a slight pain emerging behind his lens.
But he is the Ice Prince of Ihu, and is not deterred by the past.
Smoke rises over the horizon, about a mile or so from the kingdom’s icy gates. Matoro and Izotor, both donned in their combative gear, march down with their fellow Ihuian soldiers. They halt at the closed gate. Matoro turns to Izotor, his kingly personality plastered upon his face. “Izotor, you are in charge of the Fylkirheimr defenses; if any enemies slip past us, or flank the kingdom, you must not let them step foot in our home!” “_Já faðir!”_ Izotor nods, frow burrowed with determination. “Right!” Matoro shouts, unsheathing his large sword. His company does the same. “Forward!” The gates slowly open, and the Ihuians slowly march out; the Ice King ahead of the rest, mighty sword glinting in the sunlight. They get further and further away until they disappear over a ridge. Izotor turns to one of his soldiers. “Kokkan! Get the company on the city walls; I want everyone keeping a sharp eye out for any movement. Alert me if anything is detected.” “_Já prinsinn minn!”_ the matoran salutes. Orders are yelled, and Izotor’s company rushes to the outposts lining the city walls. The prince walks up to the tower overlooking the gate and waits, his telescope zooming in on the horizon. And they wait. After a few hours, the smoke disappears. And they wait. Icy winds blow over the snowy slopes, like sand over desert dunes. And they wait. The sun is setting. “Lumi; take a dozen troops and scout the area,” orders Izotor. The matoran salutes and runs down the stairs. The gates open and the troop of Ihuians quickly march through the icy fields. The prince’s lens are glued to the matoran until they disappear over the ridge. They once again wait. It is almost nightfall before a handful of matoran return, shouting and yelling at the outposts. Izotor and the rest of the troops await them at the opening gates. Lumi runs up to Izotor. “_Prinsinn minn!_ We have wounded soldiers, we need support and medics immediately!” Izotor barks an order at his company, who quickly rush out past Lumi. “Where’s the King?” Izotor asks. Lumi shakes his head. “We don’t know, we didn’t find him when we arrived.” Izotor’s heart slightly clenches. But he pushes it down. “Men, follow me! We need to find the King!” he commands. He and his troops rush into the fields. “Lumi, did you find out what had attacked us?” questions the prince. “_Já,_ it was a huge horde of fire rahi. Big lizard-like creatures.” “In Ihu? That’s unheard of.” Lumi shakes his head, “They defeated most of them, but we saw footprints heading to the border. They might have made a nest by the mountains.” As they continued forward, with the sun setting behind them, something terrible creeps into Izotor’s chest. Something alien, something dark and foreboding that chips away at his cool and calculating mind. Something he thought he could never feel. Fear. ~~~~~~~~~~~~ Kopaka stands in front of a stone. It is no ordinary stone; it is angular and rigid, with a point that juts to the heavens in defiance, an icy wreath encircling the base. Many runes and carvings decorate it’s length; stories and tales embedded into the cold stone. This is where his father lies. The memories are burned into his mind; descending into a melting crater, pushing past exposed rocks and shouting for his father when- He sees him. The King of Ice, ruler of Ihu, his proud father, covered and ash and soot, armor bent and chipped, his right arm dangling uselessly beside him and… Matoro’s empty eyes, shrouded in darkness. He had never felt such… Kopaka shakes his head. He doesn’t want to remember his screams, his tears. Not now. Right now, he needed to think. After the defeat of the Rahkshi, the Toa returned to their homes; with the exception of Lewa, who accompanied Onua. Upon their enemies’ defeat, they had found golden masks sealed away in that ruined temple, akin to their own. He tried to wear it, but something yelled in his mind that it wasn’t meant to be worn. So… what was it’s purpose? His mind had been racing for hours. _Grímafold,_ the legendary forge in the lost city of Kanohi came to mind; but that was only a story, right? Mask couldn’t contain power. Modified, sure, but not imbued with energy. He feels its weight dangling beside him. _Perhaps I should consult Ehrye, he’s a great historian; he might have some answers._ He nods his head in respect to the stone before turning and walking away. **“Kopaka…”** A voice pierces Kopaka’s racing mind. He stops in his tracks. A shudder runs down his spine, frigidness washing over him. He turns back to his father’s stone. A figure now stands there, their dark form wavering as if it were water. “Identify yourself.” Kopaka demands, trying to retain his composure. The figure warps a bit before solidifying into a more solid being. The white of their mask is dulled to a light gray, and a tattered fur cloak slowly flows around them. Matoro now stands before Kopaka. The prince stares at the former king, speechless. He slowly takes a step forward, arm reaching out. “... Faðir?” he whispers. Matoro nods his head sadly. **“It is me, my son. Or rather… what remains.”** The lost king looks down at his flickering form, weaving in and out of existence. Kopaka lowers his arm. “Father, why have you returned? _How_ have you returned?” questions the Toa of Ice. Matoro shakes his head, **“I have not returned in the way you think. I can only muster this from… whatever realm I reside in now, to aid you.”** Kopaka’s lens sharply adjusts in surprise, “Aid me? With what?” **“The Golden mask, my son,”** replies the king. **“In this dark realm I have seen truth; I am a messenger to deliver guidance for the Toa of Ice.”** “Then what can you tell me?” A portion of darkness erupts from Matoro, creating a floating translucent map of Ihu. **“Near the southern point of the Valley of Mirrors, you will find a shrine. It is there you will use the mask to unlock… protection for Ihuians.”** Kopaka frowns, “Protection?” Matoro glances at the distant mountains, **“The matoran bred in fire; they pose a threat to Ihu.”** The Ice Toa peers at the mountains too. “Tahu would not allow Mangaians to attack Ihu.” The Ice King chuckles sadly. **“Are you sure? Perhaps he has once before.”** Kopaka looks back at his father in slight confusion. “What are you-” A look of panic sweeps across Matoro’s face. **“I’m… I’m slipping away Kopaka. Listen to me; Use the golden mask, give Ihuians back their power that was stolen from them decades ago. Become-”** The shadow form buckles. The gray mask disappears into darkness, returning the figure to a black and purple cloud. Then it evaporates into nothingness. Kopaka stands there, his arm instinctively extended out to where his father just stood. He closes his eyes, deep in thought. Then they slowly open. “I understand, _faðir_. I will see to this task you’ve given me, and…” His sentence trails off. He gives another bow of respect, then turns and walks back the rocky path to the kingdom. ~~~~~~~~~~~~ The memorial is quiet for a moment. Then, the sounds of footsteps is heard, a figure emerging from behind the stone. His purple eyes burn to where the Ice Toa disappeared to. **“Who knew the icy Kopaka is so easily swayed by a memory,”** Makuta muses to himself. He glares at the kingdom. What a mistake. And they had suffered for it. His brother lying dead in his arms, the blast of the elemental gods sending him into stasis was etched deep in the fallen god’s mind. **_They will never be forgiven._** The memorial is quiet once more. ^^^^^^^^^^^ I have to say, this came out much shorter than the rest; I was kind of having a writer's block with this one, but I think it came out good in the end. With the whole Golden masks thing coming up, I decided to add in @Bokarda 's City of Masks pitch because hey; that'd be cool. Also with that epilogue, I've got some character ideas for our antagonist, so look out for that... Four more stories to go. Up next; **_Not_** a Toa :smiling_imp: What a twist! Stay Tuned. **-DarkMaestro**