Yep, my contest entry. Before I start, I'd like to say that Rockho's idea of a Protector life cycle intrigued me, and I included nods to it within my story. If you have questions, feel free to ask because that'll flesh out my idea more and make me think.
Word came that Pohatu and Kopaka were defending my village.
I had the time to sit and watch the Toa fight. I really wasn't supposed to
be here, but someone had to see what happened.
The sun would rise soon. When the village goes to morning ceremonies, they
will notice my absence and worry. Some might even guess where I am,
out here watching. I would be in trouble when I got back, but I had
to see this. See how good a-warriors these Toa actually are.
Kopaka shrank back, his shield clashing angrily against the blade of the
skull creature. I didn't have names for them. They all looked the
same to me. All bony and thin.
Pohatu was hurled close to me. I watched as a lanky red beast hunched over
him, foot on his chest. But the Toa was no weakling and beat at the
monster with his fists. Soon they were back in the fray.
I didn't really know what the Toa and skull creatures were all about. I
knew they had to do with legendary masks and Ekimu and Makuta and
other things that the legends say. Sometimes I wish I’d payed more
attention in my lessons. But most of the time I just sit and try to
figure out the Toa. They don't seem right to me.
The sun peeked over the horizon. Morning ceremonies would be starting now. I
knew people had already gathered and found me missing and worried. I
found myself daydreaming the words the priest said as she blessed the
people. The blessing of Light. The blessing of Day.
For a moment, I stepped back into the place that had been Okoto before
these Toa came. Before anything was threatening our island. When
things were happy.
I would wake in the morning and attend ceremonies at dawn. The sweet scent of
candy grass would rush over me during the spring mornings. I
remember being so anxious to get at the gummy treat, I'd start
tittering to a friend about it. Then an adult would make us look
forward and pay attention. Finally the priest would blow clouds of
sparkling pollen over our heads, say a final prayer, and then we were
set loose on the sweet grass.
Around midday, the market square would open, and vendors from all across
Okoto would set up their booths. I lived in a small village on the
desert coast, but people from every area of the island passed
through. Weavers from the eastern islets bore their craft, which more
often then than not portrayed their love of the sea. Mountain
climbers from the lava fields and the muddy foothills showed
sparkling displays of gems and rocks (quite popular in the desert).
Some of them claimed to have survived the high peaks in the very
center of Okoto, where rumor told of an ancient city that had thrived
on the trade of incredible mountain treasures.
Less often, a herder from the northern tundra would drive down a herd of
nwarr or stae, beasts of burden that ran wild in the tundra and
desert. Occasionally they would bring a curious animal intended to be
a pet, but their business excelled elsewhere.
As a young child, I usually went to the market to get trinkets to play
with or candy sweeter than nature could grow. Friendly jungle
tribesfolk were typically our toy suppliers, with palm-sized figures
carved from wood and painted, or tickets made from a hardy type of
leaf. These tickets, we were obsessed with them. They were simple,
not much more than a cut leaf with writing and pictures on it. But we
collected them and traded them and bragged about our collections.
Some genius down south had made a fortune off us desert kids.
Eventually the market would close, and at dusk we would gather again for evening
ceremonies. These were shorter, more of an extended good-night. We
were blessed with star wings (pedals from a white night-blooming
flower) and sent to rest. I slept on the floor on a mat, as most
young children would in my village. Now I sleep in a hammock, a sign
of my age.
Those days were good. They were a sweet, curled-up memory inside my head of
the days when things made sense. When I was happy, truly happy.
Pohatu's boomerang smashed into the rock I was hiding behind. Startled out of
my daydream, I peeked around and watched as the scuffle came to a
close. The duo of skull creatures fled. Pohatu seemed to want to give
chase, hopping on his jeterangs, but Kopaka was satisfied. I figured
he was eager to get out of the heat. Soon I was alone, with just the
village in the distance, under a blanket of heat.
Now with the skull creatures, evening ceremonies were no more, for fear
Now with the skull creatures, fewer traders come through the village, for
fear of attack.
Now with the skull creatures, we are afraid of being attacked.
So instead of learning to defend ourselves, the Protectors prayed and
the Toa came. Now everyone thinks the Toa are destined to do all the
fighting and we're defenseless. “It's suicide now to leave the
village,” they say. “We should leave the fighting to the Toa.”
That's why nobody knows about the skull spider I killed.