The Folly of the Toa II - Chapter 35

Projects, exams, upcoming finals, and five (!) different D&D campaigns have all been competing for my schedule as of late, so writing time is, well… scarce. I had most of this chapter written for a while, but now have finally managed to finish it. Of course, there is still more to come, but I’ll probably still be pretty slow on updating until the semester actually ends.

Chapter 35

I shambled back into consciousness around noon, more due to the sunlight spilling into the room than any feeling of refreshment. I lay there for a while, wishing we’d thought to close the curtains before diving for the sheets at dawn, but eventually I relented and got up. Jahlpu was still out cold, and there were no sounds coming from the other room, so I headed downstairs. A telescreen in the hotel’s lobby showed preparations for the big game that Hewkii’d been preparing for a night or two before. I grabbed some assorted hotel catering for lunch and watched for a while. At one point, I found myself looking out the window to the station; the train was gone. It would probably be arriving in Ko-Koro-Nuva pretty soon, and shortly thereafter, Kopaka would once again leave the world behind. I sighed thinking about it… yes, I was still mad at him, but it hadn’t hit me until then that I probably would never see him again, and neither would anyone else.

“Morning.” Jahlpu greeted as he came down the stairs; apparently, he hadn’t been quite as out as I thought. I nodded and put my empty plate aside.

“Still morning?” I asked, glancing towards a clock that quite clearly told us that time had passed.

“Morning, afternoon… I don’t know,” the Toa of Earth shrugged. “Point is, the sun’s up and we got some rest. Feeling better?”

“A bit,” I admitted. “What did you want to go see here, exactly?”

“Well,” he began, pointing at a bulletin board by the hotel entrance, “I think that’d be interesting.” I looked at the board to find a poster advertising ‘Great Mine Tours’ and the hours at which they started; the next would be in two hours.

“Go down there, see where the stuff that everything’s made from comes from?” I wondered. “Yeah, that’d be something…”

“There’s also a lot of info on Toa Onua and the other Toa Nuva by the statue,” Jahlpu continued. “I figured we could check that out first. Whenever Lerome and Kirall get up, that is.” He sat down in one of the armchairs facing the telescreen.

“Sounds fine,” I agreed. So we watched and waited until, fifteen minutes or so later, our brother and sister came down the stairs as well, looking quite refreshed themselves.

“Whazzup?” Lerome greeted as he made his way down the lobby towards us. He had his poise back, as did Kirall, who followed close behind.

“Afternoon,” I replied.

“So it seems,” the Toa of Air continued, stopping to look at the game on the telescreen. “Hewkii’s on in a bit, isn’t he?”

“Hour or two time difference, so… yeah,” Jahlpu realized.

“Sweet!” Lerome declared. “I might have to stay and watch that.”

“You kinda promised him you’d come with,” Kirall reminded him while nodding towards Jahlpu.

“Really? You’re the one who’s going to hold me to that?” Lerome turned towards her.

“I mean, you practically dragged me over to that Po-Matoran carving display,” she retorted with sly smile. “I’m just returning the favor.”

“Oh, c’mon!” Lerome exclaimed. “That was fun! They offered to carve a small statue of you, remember?”

“If I’d wanted to stand still for five hours,” Kirall pointed out. “And yours broke after like a day.”

“I dropped it, okay?” Lerome shot back. “That statue was perfectly fine. And you could’ve been sitting down if you wanted.”

“Yeah… no,” Kirall concluded.

“Okay, okay,” Jahlpu got up. “Let’s get going before you two leave civility behind, shall we?”

“Fine…” Lerome rolled his eyes, We all followed Jahlpu out. Now, with the sun no longer behind the mountain to the west, the whole town looked a lot less gloomy, of no less dusty than before. Even the assorted dull greys and browns that apparently made up the town’s entire color palette came alive to some degree under the sun. There weren’t many Matoran about; with no train arriving or departing, few had much reason to be hanging around the above-ground portion of the town. No, the activity in Onu-Koro-Nuva happened primarily underground, inside the mountain, and looking down the main street we noted that it led straight there through a seriously big tunnel entrance.

Jahlpu led the way, past the shops and a few other hotels and into the tunnel. Easily a hundred feet wide, with marked lanes for both pedestrians and vehicles, it led us down a gradual slope, past a few carved-out enclaves and Onu-Matoran homes, and soon opened up into what I can only describe as a stupendously large cavern. Easily more than a mile across, the somewhat dusty air made it impossible to distinguish much of the ceiling or anything on the other side, while the underground city of Onu-Koro Nuva lay in six concentric rings below us, each lower than the one outside it. All of it was illuminated by hundreds of lightstones and connected by the main street, which led down through a series of wide steps to the very center where, elevated on a pillar rising from a deep pit, a gargantuan, bronze statue of Toa Nuva Onua was lit by spotlights from all around. Dispersed throughout the space, several enormous, granite columns rose from the cavern floor to the ceiling, decorated with deep carvings and black banners many times the size of the largest billboards I’d seen back in New Atero, proudly displaying an ancient symbol of the Onu-Matoran. Stairs spiraling around the columns, small windows, and bridges connecting them indicated that they, too, were inhabited, not unlike the way in which the giant trees of Le-Koro-Nuva had been colonized by the Le-Matoran. This city’s sound was one all its own, though; a mix of normal city noise with an industrial complex working around the clock, conversations in crowds over the clanging of metal against metal in the background, an occasional shout from one end of the street to the other followed by the loud whirring of a large drill, and the sound of minecarts running on elevated tracks from the center, taking ore out of the mine and up to the surface. The scale of it all was simply staggering, and I noticed that even Lerome and Kirall seemed very impressed.

“Far out…” the Toa of Air managed to say.

“This started as a mine, from what I heard,” Jahlpu explained. “After they decided to go deeper, this became the new city.”

“And what a city… sheesh,” I remarked. “Pretty amazing, huh?”

“Spectacular,” Jahlpu smiled with more than a hint of pride to his expression. Looking to our right, we noticed a sign advertising ‘Great Mine Tours.’ “We’ll check that out in a bit,” our Toa of Earth informed us. “Let’s go down and see that statue first.” No one argued, so we set off down the stairs towards the center of the cavern.

Underground Onu-Koro-Nuva was nothing if not a hive of activity; Matoran and Agori, mostly Onu-Matoran and ex-Rock tribe members, respectively, were everywhere, many carrying some kind of equipment or tool. Though it was a mine no longer, life in this cavern was still dominated by the mining occupation, it appeared, not least because of the minecarts constantly running on elevated tracks overhead. Barring the fact that it was underground, though, the experience was not unlike what New Atero’d been like for me; we were greeted or at least acknowledged by everyone with a nod, a smile, a wave, a “good day to you, Toa,” or something similar; all of it displayed a degree of reverence that I didn’t feel we deserved, but I smiled all the same to keep up the appearance. Lerome, Kirall, and Jahlpu were far more comfortable in the spotlight, the latter particularly since these were his people. At one point, he even stopped to chat for a minute with some young Rock Agori, who watched and listened to his ‘wise words’ with that intense, fascinated attention that only children could muster. Along the way, we passed numerous metal and machine shops, a two markets, an arena in which two old Skrall were instructing a number of younger Glatorian in fighting techniques, and even a full-blown Kolhii field. Everything one would expect to find in a city was here, or at least it had an underground analogue; I’d never seen a place like this.

After a good thirty minutes, we at last arrived at the inner edge of the lowest of the six rings to find that we could go no further. The column on which the 300 ft-tall statue of Onua rested rose from a deep pit; above us, bronze Onua stood, one arm at his side and holding his signature chainsaw-like tools, and the other raised up high over our heads, holding what had to be the largest lightstone I’d ever seen. Looking down, we could see the bright spots of lightstones all along the sides of the pit, some fixed while others were moving, mounted on some kind of mobile equipment or being carried by mine workers.

“Wonder how long it’d take something to fall down there,” Lerome remarked.

“Don’t try it,” Jahlpu warned. “They didn’t put a fence around it for nothing.” True; the pit was surrounded on all sides by a fence that was a little more than waist-high for a Matoran, but didn’t pose much of a barrier for us. Still, there was no way to directly enter the mine here; that was done through one of a number of tunnels that surfaced on the ring above us. This ring, by contrast, was essentially a gigantic clearing, with numerous park benches set up facing the statue, and information screens that presented various facts about Toa Onua and the other Toa Nuva. Souvenir stands of all sorts were set up towards the outside of this ring, and thin, stone columns with mossy ferns planted on top did a half-decent impression of being underground trees. In essence, this was an underground version of a park, the spot in which Matoran and Agori from all over the city came to slow down and relax under the watchful eyes of the Toa whose actions had, according to one of the info screens, made this entire place possible.

“I’m gonna check out those stands,” Kirall informed us as she gestured towards one of the souvenir stands close to the stairs by which we’d arrived. She was off before anyone could object; from where we were it seemed the stand sold some kind of jewelry, which was a pretty good reason for it to catch our Toa of Water’s attention.

“Is flying legal here?” Lerome inquired.

“Don’t see why not, so long as you’re careful,” Jahlpu shrugged.

“Sweet… be right back,” the Toa of Air replied as he pressed his fingers against two particular spots on either side of his waist. We knew what this meant; he was deploying his “wings,” a set of screens that attached below his arms and along the sides of his body that allowed him to glide on air currents. Without warning, he conjured a strong updraft to lift himself into the air, whipping up quite a bit of dust in the process and attracting a fair amount of attention from the Matoran and Agori nearby.

“I guess he wants to check out the pillars, maybe?” I wondered.

“Probably…” Jahlpu sighed. “They’ll keep themselves entertained,” he said disapprovingly, then turned his attention back to the info screen in front of him. It more or less gave a ■■■■■■■■■ of what all Toa Onua did shortly before the Reformation and what he’d done since, including founding Onu-Koro-Nuva and finding many of the most productive ore veins still being mined today. A ■■■■■■■■■ it may have been, but I noted it was still an impressive array of accomplishments, and Jahlpu seemed no less impressed.

“You weren’t kidding when you said he made this place,” I noted. “I mean, he worked the mine, he took over for a while after the Turaga died, he founded the ruling council…”

“This place wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for him,” Jahlpu agreed. The info screens were set up around the entirety of the square surrounding the statue. Moving counter-clockwise around the pit, we found that the second screen detailed Onua’s arrival on Mata Nui, and the events leading up to his first confrontation with Makuta Teridax. Next came one on his fight with the Bohrok, then one on the Rahkshi and the coming of Takanuva, one on their journey to Voya Nui… we walked from one screen to the other, reading through each one. We’d made it to the Reign of Shadows by time that Lerome returned, tapping us on the shoulder.

“Hey, guess what?” he asked.

“What?” I asked.

“That tour thing you were talking about, it’s gonna start in like twenty minutes,” the Toa of Air informed us.

“It is?” Jahlpu looked up, shocked.

“Yeah, it is,” Lerome asserted, pointing at a large clock on the side of one of the pillars. “I mean, I’m perfectly happy flying around for a while, but if you miss that tour now you’re gonna make us wait longer while you go on the next one, so… shall we get moving?”

“Of course,” Jahlpu sighed; Lerome’s assessment of what would happen if we missed the tour was accurate, but his attitude about it was bothersome as always, especially to Jahlpu. “Let’s get moving,” he turned to me. “We can check out the rest of this afterwards, I guess.”

“Sure,” I shrugged. I could read more about the Reign of Shadows and Onua’s post-reformation efforts later. We started back around the square to the stairs from which we’d entered.

“Where’s Kirall?” Jahlpu wondered.

“She found a smith, and last I knew she was asking him if he knew how to do surgery,” Lerome recalled.

“By Mata Nui…” Jahlpu sighed. I just shook my head; there was only one reason why Kirall would seek out a smith, and ‘surgery’ summed it up pretty well. Sure enough, about ten minutes later and two rings up, we found our sister standing with an Onu-Matoran smith in the front of his shop, hunched over a table and drawing something on a piece of paper. The dubious expression on the Matoran’s face indicated he wasn’t entirely comfortable with what she was doing.

“Yo Kirall!” Lerome called out.

“Busy!” she called back without looking up.

“That tour thing’s about to start,” the Toa of Air informed her as he stepped into the shop. “Seriously, you won’t wanna miss it…” he continued with a distinct sarcastic streak to his voice.

“I’ll be fine,” she insisted. Jahlpu and I’d stopped at the entrance; looking at the paper on the desk, I noticed she’d rather crudely drawn up two figures, each roughly the stature of a Toa if the proportions were to be believed, and with a number of areas circled on the first one. Arrows from each circle leading to the second figure presumably indicated the ‘modifications’ that she was aiming for; narrower shoulders, wider hips, thinner arms… basically a ■■■■■■■■■ of what it would take to give her a more Glatorian-like, ‘feminine’ physique, and just from looking at the figures it was clear that the procedures involved would be very invasive. Looking over to Jahlpu, I noticed his expression had darkened significantly; he wasn’t keen on any of this. Lerome, on the other hand…

“So that’s the next step, huh?” he asked, gesturing towards the drawing on the table. “Looks like it’s gonna take a while…” He turned to the smith: “Look, I’m sure you’re really excited about this job, but she’s gonna have to come with us for a while.”

“What… hey!” Kirall protested as Lerome threw an arm over her shoulders and started moving her out of the shop.

“We’ll bring her back so you can do your operation,” Lerome assured the poor Onu-Matoran, who was clearly at a loss for words concerning spectacle unfolding in front of him.

“Hey, you go see the ■■■■■■ mine!” Kirall wrested herself free. “I have other things to get to.”

“We all do,” Lerome said condescendingly as he reached over and gripped her arm tight, “but you got me dragged down here, so I’m gonna make sure you see it through.” He shot her a cruel smile as he dragged her past us, but she relented.

“Fine, ■■■■■■■, but we ain’t leaving right after,” she countered. “I can only get this stuff done here, so Le-Koro-Nuva’s gonna have to wait.”

“Whatever,” Lerome dismissed the idea and kept going, now followed by a fuming Kirall. By this point, Jahlpu’s expression had gone from disapproval to outright anger, but he kept his mouth shut.

“C’mon, let’s go see the mine,” I said, hoping to get his mind off of our teammates’ behavior. “No use getting angry at them.” Granted, given that he’d been stuck with them for the last few months, he probably had every reason to.

“I know…” he sighed as we started and followed behind. “I’m trying.”


#####author’s note: First chapter in which Kopaka doesn’t appear beyond being mentioned since… what, chapter 11? Suffice to say, this one is mostly ‘filler’ again, but after how the last one went down, that was always going to be the case. On the plus side, I’ve had the idea of how Onu-Koro-Nuva looks in my head for a long time, and it was nice to get to describe it at last… basically, it’s a lot like Onu-Koro in MoL, but slightly more modern.

I’ll post more chapters as I finish them. As always, post any questions, comments, and/or observations below. Enjoy!


I generally try to limit my D&D campaigns to at most three week.

I detest Lerome and Kirall