“He approaches,” the Tohunga said, bowing.
The Turaga adjusted his headdress slightly as the rest of his entourage returned the bows, facing the Minister with a steely glare.
The Minister of the Kini Nui was a gaudy Onu-Tohunga, black as cobalt, with purple paint adorning his mask and armor. His purple and white robes swirled around him as he presented his disk to the Turaga, the symbol of solidarity between two leaders of the realm.
The Turaga did not present his in return.
This was an insult of the highest order.
“I trust the Spirits have smiled on your journey between the stars,” the Minister said, ignoring the slight that had been given to him. “Flying between the islands is a past-time that I long put behind me.”
“I’m not here for pleasantries, Mubarik,” said the Turaga angrily. He marched up the steps, towards the Minister, staff pointed outwards in a rage.
Mubarik held out his hand. The Turaga stopped, abruptly. The seemingly gaunt Tohunga had suddenly become...threatening.
“Minister Mubarik, we on behalf of the Eastern Isles have come to bring a formal accusation.”
“Against yourself,” said the Turaga.
In an instant, the disk that Mubarik had outstretched in his hand was withdrawn. It whipped out in a curve and hit the leftmost member of the Turaga’s entourage, ricocheting back into the Tohunga’s hands in a split second. A second hit whizzed into two other members before it returned, and a final one was accompanied by an elemental surge that ripped up the ground under the last of the Turaga’s supporters and sent them tumbling down the stone steps back onto the courtyard below.
The Turaga raised his staff, the disk at the top glowing a bright blue. He spun around and a wave of water surged from the motion and flew towards the Minister. He backflipped out of the way, his disk returning to him, as he poised against his opponent.
“The Great Mask of Mao has been stolen,” said the Turaga.
“I believe you’re looking in the wrong place,” replied Mubarik.
“The state of my men seem to state otherwise,” the Turaga said.
“And the state of this temple is to remain unsullied by Eastern hands, Giolan,” growled Mubarik. “You can take your accusations and your Grand Court and your ridiculous hat and return to where you belong. Here, in the Temple of the Dead, we still have respect for tradition.”
“This is a headdress,” Giolan snarled as he threw his body into his attack. Torrid columns of water shot forth, smashing into the stone stairs. Mubarik leapt back, dodging the liquid pillars with a deft acrobatic flair. He stood in front of the Temple gates, and looked up to see the airships of the Alliance Armada already filling up around the steeple.
He yelled in a language more ancient than the stars, and his words became thunderous echos that rippled through the air. Giolan was swept off his feet, and leapt back up too late. The gates closed, and the Temple was sealed.
“Surround the Temple,” he yelled at his men. “And prepare the spellcasters. We’re going to have to bring in an Inquisitor.”
Mubarik lit four of the five candles, and uttered a quick prayer before offering his own disk to the shrine. The fifth candle flickered to light in a blue flame.
“Oh, great and merciful Hanan,” he said. “We are befallen. Your enemies have stolen their way into your home again, at long last. Please, send me a warrior to fight on your behalf.”
The candles’ flame grew and swirled together, enveloping the Tohunga in their beauty. They illuminated the room, revealing the endless caskets that surrounded the shrine. The one closest to the shrine shuddered for a second and then splintered open, as the old bones of a long dead warrior groaned to life for the first time.
He clambered out to face the Minister, and knelt before him.
“They are besieging the Temple to seize the Mask of Death. The Mask of Healing, the one belonging to the Great Spirit Mao, has been stolen. You are to find the Mask and return it, or bring about the fall of those who wish to bring down this Temple. You must do this by any means necessary.”
The warrior nodded.
“Much has changed since you walked the land of the living. There are seven islands, all suspended above the ground. You must get to the Eastern Isles, where Mao now lays at rest. My disk will keep you alive, but do not lose it, or else you will return to the bones that you are.”
He gave the warrior his disk, and the warrior nodded again.
“This cloak will keep you afloat in water, should they seek to drown you,” he said. “And this scythe will channel the disk’s powers for you. I wish I could guide you, but my powers leave me when the disk leaves the temple. You must hurry. I do not know how long this spell could hold.”
He draped the cloak around the warrior, and after a second, gave him his precious scythe.
“Fulfill your destiny, and then you can return to your rest once more,” Mubarik said. “The fate of this temple rests in your hands, Mesonak.”
The warrior nodded for the last time, then looked up to see the bright blue skies of the western beach. To a cliff to the north, he saw the airships surround the Temple, and behind him, the horizon of the ocean came to an abrupt stop.
And so it began.
(nanowrimo exercise. i'm making this up as i go along. we'll see how this goes)