The Misira Nui Chronicles - 4: Puo-Onuna

“You said it was close,” Telzin protested. She’d been following Garta to his place for a good ten minutes after he’d convinced her that it would be better to discuss these ‘Toa stones’ in private. She’d agreed on the condition that it’d be quick but at this rate, she wouldn’t get back to the festivities for a while.

“Almost there.” Garta had kept up a quick pace as they descended from the high end of the Golyi district to the marshy Garo district, where they were now following its winding walkways north along the shore. “Right here,” he pointed. Following his finger, Telzin’s eyes fell on a small, isolated hut on the northern edge of the Garo, facing the Komisi. Built on a platform that hugged the base of one of the giant trees standing right on the water’s edge, it was quite isolated from most of the district. A small fishing boat was moored to the walkway that led to the hut’s entrance.

“Cozy,” she remarked as she followed him in. The hut only had two rooms: the larger living room and a smaller storage space and kitchen, and in both the expected furniture had to share the space with a variety of fishing supplies, from nets and rope hanging from the ceiling to wooden planks, cups with nails, and an assortment of tools stowed against the walls. It would barely make a comfortable home for one Matoran, and certainly would have no room left over for even a small pet rahi. “Let me guess: you fish,” she said sarcastically. The smell of the water rahi was thick in the hut. She’d picked up a light fishy odor from Garta on the way over, but it was nothing compared this.

“I do,” he replied dryly as he quickly improvised a small bench from two wooden crates and a plank beside the table. He motioned for Telzin to sit down while he uncovered a dim lightstone and took the only chair. Both rods were set on the table between them. He opened with a question. “Do you know anything about legends from the Old World?”

“The Old World? Not much,” she shrugged.

“Ah…” he paused for a moment, betraying a hint of disappointment. “Well, back then, there were taller Matoran called Toa. They were guardians of the other Matoran, called for when the Matoran were in danger.” He paused again, watching her face for a sign of recognition.

“Go on…” she beckoned impatiently without showing any.

“You’ve never heard of Toa?”

“I don’t know… maybe?” The term did ring a bell for her, but it was a distant one at best.

“Well, I saw a museum about them when I was a nuvatoran on the Old World. They had Toa stones there.”

Telzin pointed at the rods. “They look like these?”

Garta nodded. “Something like them, yes. I remember getting this… feeling from them, and I’m feeling the same thing now, with these.”

She looked at the rods again, but whatever he was describing, she wasn’t feeling it. “I mean, they’re cool to look at, but you said they’re dangerous. How?”

“It’s not the stones themselves,” he explained in a low tone, “but what they mean… You see, after I found mine, I wasn’t sure what it was or what to do with it. I went to the library and read a bunch of legends, looking for something like it. There’s lots of Toa in those legends, and a lot of them became Toa because they were given a Toa stone as Matoran, or they found one. That’s what Toa stones do, they turn Matoran into Toa, somehow.”

She raised an eyebrow and looked at the rods again. “They don’t seem to be doing much of that now…”

“No, they had to take them to a temple,” he quickly pointed out. “All the stories are the same: the Matoran entered the temple with their Toa stones and somehow came out as Toa. Then they fought whatever evil was threatening the Matoran.”

“Pretty exciting legends, hm?” Her tone conveyed little excitement of any kind.

He sighed. “That’s the problem. In these legends, Toa stones only show up when evil threatens the Matoran.” He picked up one of the rods, which cast bright blue light and stark shadows all through the room. “If these are Toa stones, who knows what might be about to hit us? We could be on the brink of disaster.”

“Disaster? From these things?” she asked in disbelief.

“Disaster foretold by them being here.”

“Hm… sounds like you should tell someone we’re about to have a problem.”

“Maybe, but what if I’m wrong?” Garta put the rod down. “I’m not going to run around prophesying doom when I don’t even know whether these things are Toa stones or not. There’s no reason why we should have any out here at all. It takes Toa to make them, and we’ve never had any. There shouldn’t be Toa stones here.”

“So… they can’t be Toa stones?” Some frustration began to creep into her voice.

“I’m not sure,” he admitted. “They could be anything. It’s just this lingering feeling…”

“And you dragged me all the way down here for a feeling?”

“A feeling, yes, but there’s big implications…”

She interrupted before he could get any further. “I’m missing what could be the event of the year for this. Or… at least the event of the quarter.” She got up.

As she grabbed one of the rods from the table and stuck it in her backpack, he got up too. “Look, I know it sounds a little out there, but that feeling is real. Don’t you get anything from these things?”

“Eh, nope.” She shook her head. “No toa-feelings, no sense of doom, nothing.” She turned for and opened the door but paused before leaving. “Look, good luck with your legends and your temples and your… Toa, but I really do have places to be. If you figure out anything for certain, you can tell me about it then.” With that, she stepped out onto the platform.

“Hang on… Wait!” He followed her out but stopped in the doorway. “You… you were made here, right?”

She stopped. “Yeah, I was,” she turned and shot him a questioning look. “Tahai-forged, Madumei-raised. What of it?”

“Well… you weren’t there,” he sighed. “You haven’t seen Spherus Magna. You weren’t there when the Toa used to give these amazing displays of elemental power. I saw them on the telescreens. Trust me, it changes the way you see the world, what you think is possible.”

It took a moment before she replied. “That was the Old World. You said there couldn’t be Toa stones here.”

“Yeah, I know, but I could be wrong. Maybe they can be here. No one knows for sure. I checked.”

“Or maybe you’re just the first to fish up a new lightstone,” she suggested. “Or maybe… you know, age is getting to you?”

That suggestion had an immediate effect: he recoiled slightly with an unnerved expression, but quickly regained his bearing. “Yeah, that could be…” He looked down, then turned to the Komisi. “But… what if I’m right? I can’t afford not to look into this. If I’m right, we could be in big trouble.”

Telzin watched, wanting to say something but not sure what exactly or whether he was really listening. His mind now seemed miles away, his eyes locked on the horizon, and she readily recognized a bad sign when she saw it.

Suddenly his senses seemed to return to him. His eyes widened and he quickly turned back to her. “Hang on, where’d you find yours?” he asked with a new sense of urgency.

Taken aback, it took her a moment to answer. “Mine? It… it was lying on a midway station, under an engine.”

“How’d it get there?” His question caught her off guard. How did it get there? “It could be that I’m just the first to fish up this new thing,” he pressed on, “but how could one have ended up under an engine in the trees without anyone finding it earlier?”

“I mean, I don’t know how it got there, but can’t have been long…”

“There you go. There’s something more going on, I’m telling you. Toa stone or not, there’s something to these things.” His voice was clear of any doubt now.

She nodded slowly. “I guess, yeah… So what, are you gonna tell a Turaga about it?”

“No, I’d like to keep this quiet for now,” he continued quickly. “I don’t know anything for certain yet, and I don’t want ideas to get out in the meantime. I mean, what if news gets out that we might be in big danger because I found this weird rod and people panic, then we figured out that it was all for no reason? That’s a mess I do not want to be a part of.”

“Okay, but you said you gotta do something.”

“Yes. That’s why we’ve got to go to the temple.”

“The Kini-Kofo?”

“Yes! That’s where it always happens in the legends. I’ve got a boat,” he pointed at the small fishing boat. “With that, we can get to Kini-Koro in two days, easy. Then we’ll see whether there’s anything there that… works with these things.”

“Uhm, we’ll see?” Telzin gestured up to the Madumei. “I’ve got a job up there. I can’t just up and leave.”

Garta took a moment, quickly considering alternatives. “Alright, I’ll go on my own, then. And you… what do you do up there?”

“Maintenance, station 8.” She pointed in the station’s direction almost by reflex.

“A transport station? You must hear a lot from Matoran shipping things through there, right?” He asked with much greater excitement than she figured the station had any right to evoke.

“Uhm… yeah,” she nodded quickly. “All sorts of stories and gossip come through with all the… things that we ship out.”

“You can keep your ear to the ground, then,” he suggested without missing a beat. “If other Matoran find more of these things, sooner or later it’s going to get out. We’ll need to know when it does so we can track down that Matoran and tell them what we know.”

“That… yeah, I can do that. I mean, if it really could be that important…”

“Absolutely,” he said with full conviction. “Matoran could die.” Both were taken aback by that assertion. Quickly he added: “From what I’ve read, at least. Things could get really dangerous if I’m right.”

Telzin nodded slowly but maintained a worried expression. “Okay, well… I really should get back.” She turned to head south. “I’ll let you know if I hear about anything.”

“Very good.” He reached out with a fist, which she gave a slightly hesitant bump with her own. “I will leave at dawn. I should be back in no more than five days’ time.”

“Alright, good luck.” She adjusted her backpack and started to move away.

“The same to you,” he said. As she headed back down the path, he called after her: “and keep quiet about this, just in case!”

“Right, no causing panic!”

Quickly, she followed the dark, wooden path over the marsh back to the Golyi, then headed for the closest tree with a ladder leading up to the Madumei. The party wouldn’t be over yet by a long shot, but she’d probably missed the best part of it. Before climbing up, she felt the base of her backpack. The rod was safe inside… Maybe it really did signal that something big was about to happen. It did kind of feel that way, somehow, now that Garta had pointed out the vibes that he was picking up on. Maybe she’d have to go down to the library to look at some of these legends herself… “Nah,” she smiled as she climbed up the ladder, already feeling more at home. When they started a library up in the trees she’d consider it. She was never very comfortable on the ground, even when it wasn’t swarming with the taller ground-Matoran. As for Garta… was he going mad, or was there more to these things? He was clearly on the older side and quite isolated on top of that, neither of which were good signs. Then again, these were very weird rods… “Don’t think about it,” she mumbled to herself and shook her head. At this rate she’d end up as crazy as he was. Never mind that; in the distance, she could see the lights of the party.

Still groggy, Tykal picked his way down the stairs in complete darkness. He wasn’t sure what time it was, but it was definitely too early. It was still dark out. Light from downstairs barely illuminated his path. His housemate was already up somehow, and Tykal thought he could smell a t’samor stew brewing. It wasn’t the smell that bothered him, though; it was the music. Even the comparatively gentle melody he could hear now had been enough to wake him up.

“Scorzen, could you cut that out?” he called down. The music ceased immediately. He stopped halfway down the stairs, within line of sight of the De-Matoran sitting on the stool in what passed for a kitchen.

“Oh, sorry…” Scorzen put his instrument, a combination wind and percussion device of Tykal’s construction dubbed ‘dikorda’, down on the ground next to him. “I was just passing time until the stew’s done.”

“Yeah, I know… just not before sunrise, okay? Long nights over here.”

“Of course,” Scorzen nodded and stirred the stew slightly. “It’s almost done, if you’re interested.”

“Later.” Tykal shook his head and headed back upstairs.

Scorzen surveyed the room before turning his attention back to the stew. Though the room occupied the entire ground floor of their small hut on the west side of the Tahai, was small enough to be adequately lit with one well-placed lightstone. Its light revealed a mass of scrap metal and scattered tools that dominated much of the space, all of which had been collecting there over the last ten days or so. Somewhere amidst the scattered pieces was the prototype of whatever Tykal’d been working on past midnight. Scorzen’d been kept up by the noise of that as much as Tykal was apparently kept up by his music, but he’d elected not to say anything about it. Best to let Tykal run at full speed when he was onto something.

The stew was middling at best; it wasn’t really the time of year for t’samor yet. At least it’d keep him going for a while. By the time he’d finished as much of it as he could stomach, he could see the first signs of daybreak outside. Time to head out for work.

Unlike most Matoran in Gol-Rui, Scorzen didn’t really have a set job, assigned or otherwise. Most would readily find something based on their tribe’s role in the grand scheme of things, but he was the only De-Matoran in town, having arrived a little over ten years before… had it been that long? He remembered the day the rest of the tribe asked him to leave the Komo like it was yesterday, especially when Tykal asked him to stop playing. He didn’t do that often, mind; Scorzen found plenty of time to rehearse for the occasional Madumei gigs that paid their bills alongside the nearly endless supply of odd jobs that he picked up in the market every morning. There was always someone with use for an extra pair of hands and a widget or two to spare.

“Ah, just the one I was looking for!” Amati, a Bo-Matoran weaver and one of his regular ‘customers’, called out to him as he reached the square. Case in point.

“Not heading out!?” Garta looked up to see where the call came from and quickly spotted three Ga-Matoran sailing out onto the Komisi on a large fishing boat. He knew that the voice belonged to the middle one, but he didn’t exactly remember what his name was… Jisoro, maybe? “If you ever want a real catch, you can come with sometime!” the Matoran invited, though his tone was less than sincere.

“I’ll manage!” Garta called back. “Been out already!” The sailing Matoran shook their heads, and Garta went back to moving the keras cages from his boat to his hut. Maybe they thought that they were out ahead of him for once. The joke was on them; he’d already gone out, lifted all his cages, and made it back. Furthermore, one of the cages had clearly been in the path of a migrating patrol of hahnah crabs, as he had managed to pluck five of the little things out of it. They weren’t much of a threat, and he could keep them in a partially submerged cage at the rear of his boat as a fresh food supply for the trip. Not a bad start for a big day.

Before long, all was packed up and he was ready to leave Gol-Rui for the first time in… how long? He couldn’t remember exactly. The second thing that’d slipped his mind today… was that something to worry about? Admittedly, his nerves had seen better mornings. Excitement about the possible Toa stone, worry about what might be going on if that’s actually what it was, and worry about how exactly to go about figuring that out mixed to form a stomach-churning cocktail. He could add iffy memory to the list of worries if this kept going on. Latching his hut’s door, he mentally reviewed his travel plan. Get to Ga-Koro by nightfall, stay there overnight, and then get to Kini-Koro by the end of the following day… not exactly a complicated plan, especially since all he really had to do was to follow the shoreline, but he felt a little better for having it securely in his head all the same. He untied the mooring lines and jumped aboard to the sound of some chittering of the hahnah crabs behind the boat. With little wind, he elected to row out onto the open bay before raising the sail. Before long, the wind picked up and propelled him gently southwards as his thoughts turned to Ga-Koro and an old friend.

Telzin had some trouble keeping her eyes open on approach to Station 8. She’d hardly slept and, on top of that, was looking forward to what promised to be an exceptionally boring day. No parties planned anywhere after last night’s big event, and there was little hope of action at the station. Still, she had to be here, and at least it was somewhere to go.

“Do I even need to say it?” Letono said exasperatedly as she entered on the administrative floor.

“No, but I won’t stop you,” she shrugged. “Hey, half past eight isn’t the worst I’ve done.”

“It’s also well after opening time.”

She set her backpack against the wall. “And has anything happened between then and now?”

“No, but something is about to come in on line 3.” He pointed at the signal board set into the station wall. A pink-red lightstone for line 3 was raised up.

“A ■■■■■■■■ from central? Guess I’m actually right on time,” she smiled.

He didn’t respond to the joke. “Would you please just get down there to pick it up?”

She was already on her way, using the rope ladder on the tree trunk that the station was built around to descend past the engine floor to the cart floor. This was where the rails and hence the cars suspended from them entered and left the station. Before long, a wire running back to the central station pulled and started the line 3 engine, pretty much in sync with those further along the line. Telzin’s eyes followed the rail as it wound its way between the tree trunks, looking for the incoming car. It didn’t take long for it to appear. Squinting, she could see that it definitely wasn’t overflowing with cargo, but there was a passenger on board: a Matoran in odd, light-gray armor with black and red accents, looking more than a bit uncomfortable. Telzin thought she recognized him from somewhere.

“Welcome to station 8, west Tahai!” she announced with enthusiasm as the car crossed the threshold into the station and she cut the line’s engines.

“Thanks,” the passenger replied in a soft tone as he reached up and pulled a small lever on the car to disengage it from the drive cable.

“You’ve done this before, haven’t you?” Looking in, she could see that the cargo consisted of three large, cylindrical objects sealed in canvas sacks.

“A few rides.” He nodded and climbed out of the car. “Never to here, though.”

“Not much comes through here, which means I can provide excellent personalized service. I’m Telzin, by the way.”

“Scorzen” He produced a cargo manifest on a clipboard. “I bring textiles from Amati to be sent to Ku-Koro with… Vikuto.”

Telzin wheeled the station’s turntable around to line 3. “Going down under, then?” Scorzen nodded in the affirmative. Together, they pushed the car forward onto the turntable rail.

“So, you work for Amati?” She asked as she climbed onto the car and locked it to the turntable.

“Eh, sometimes.” He replied with some hesitation. “I do odd jobs, make some music.”

“Ah, that’s where I know you from! You play up here sometimes, right?” She leapt down by the side of the car and motioned for Scorzen to join her. “This side.”

He moved in beside her. “A few times, yeah.” Both pushed the car to turn the turntable to the elevator on the other side of the station.

“Well, you wouldn’t have anything lined up for tonight, would you?” She asked as she unlocked the car.

“Nothing tonight. I think it’s pretty quiet.”

“Unfortunately, yeah.”

Together, they pushed the car onto the elevator rail, where Scorzen climbed back in and locked the brake. “Should be something tomorrow, from what I heard.” He took up a spot in the center of the car while she moved to check out the elevator brake.

“I’ve heard too. Anyways, Vikuto’s usual spot is just west along the road down there,” she informed him. He replied with quick thumbs-up, then placed both hands on the rim of the car, holding on quite tightly. She was about to loosen the elevator brake for descent but stopped before pushing the lever. “Oh, by the way, have you heard of anyone finding any… strange things lately?”

“Eh, what kind of things?” came the nervous-sounding reply.

“Just, uhm… weird glowing things?” She wasn’t sure how to describe it without giving too much away. For that matter, how much was too much? Would he put things together just from that?

“Haven’t heard of any. Why?”

“Eh… nothing. It’s fine,” she smiled and quickly pushed the brake lever to send the elevator down. She watched as it sped past height markers on a rapid descent and pulled the brake lever as it was about to reach the ground. The car slowed down and landed a little harshly, but a wave from Scorzen indicated that everything was okay. She waved back. Hopefully he didn’t suspect too much… or was that just paranoia talking? She wasn’t sure, but she had to ask him about any news while she had the opportunity; how else could she figure out if anything odd was found down there when the station was dead quiet so much of the time? That problem had gradually dawned on her over the course of the previous evening, and she hadn’t been able to put it out of her mind since.

She made her way back to the administrative level, where Letono was already filling out a form concerning the ■■■■■■■■ she’d just handled. “Textiles from Amati for Vikuto,” she told him, knowing exactly what he was about to ask. He dutifully noted it down. “Anything else scheduled for today?” she asked.

“Nothing much, and everything checked out this morning,” he replied as he filed the form away. That wasn’t the answer she wanted to hear.

“Alright,” she shrugged. “I’ll be on the lower level. Holler if you need me.” He gave a nod of approval, and she grabbed her backpack and made her way down to the cart level of the station. Opening the backpack, she found the rod still safe inside. Good. She didn’t have much of a safe place to keep it at home, but after last night she was constantly worried that she might lose it… it had been one of the things that had kept her up long after the party had died down. The more she thought about it, the more it seemed like there was something unnaturally captivating about these things that she wasn’t sure how to deal with. Memory wasn’t normally her strong suit; she could forget about anything she wanted to. Yet this was something more that she couldn’t just put out of her mind, and that nagging feeling that she couldn’t really keep track of news on the ground as well as she’d suggested to Garta wasn’t helping. Hopefully nothing much would happen, or maybe she’d hear about it at a later party. There just wasn’t one tonight.

She caught herself about to nod off again. Thankfully, she had just the thing for that: a hammock stashed away on the engine level. She retrieved it and made her way to the edge of the cart level, where one of the tree’s lowest sizeable branches jutted outwards in the direction of the city center. She leapt down onto the branch, rigged up the hammock, and clambered into it. From there, she had a clear view over much of the Tahai and western Golyi districts, where the late morning activity was in full swing. No doubt it was busy down there, but it was all soothing to watch from up high, and the dry heat of the Tahai forges made it all the more sleep-inducing. Before long, she finally managed to shut down for a much-needed nap.

At last, Garta could see Ga-Koro up ahead. Not remembering exactly where along the coast of the Galonu region it was, he’d gotten worried that darkness would make it all but impossible to find before he got there. This was just on time. He set a course directly for the village and before long could make out its floating timber platforms and the walkways connecting them in detail.

Tying up his small boat to one of the multitudes of available spots, he stepped onto a platform and made his way to the nearest hut. Built in several sections, it was rather large by his standards. A small wooden sign was posted at its entrance.

Rukima-Ario – Ferei’i-Eyres

Just who he was looking for… well, one of them was. He knocked on the door and waited, looking over the village as he did. A dozen or so thatched huts were distributed over six large platforms with a variety of watercraft moored to them: a Ga-Matoran enterprise through-and-through. There was something incredibly serene about it. Small lightstones illuminated windows in all but one of the huts, but there was no outside activity, none of the hustle and bustle of Gol-Rui.

“Can I help you?” A voice from the doorway startled him. Turning around, he saw that it came from a diminutive Ce-Matoran with a kind smile.

“Evening,” he greeted somewhat awkwardly. “I’m looking for Ario?”

“Oh, he’s still on the boat.” She pointed to a mid-sized fishing vessel moored next to two smaller ones to next platform over.

“Thank you.” Garta gave a quick nod, turned and made his way there, not keen to field any follow-up questions. The boat seemed quiet, but once he got to the gangplank he could just hear someone walking about inside. Moments later, a familiar Ga-Matoran appeared on deck and noticed him almost immediately.

“By the great spirit!” Ario exclaimed. “I never thought I’d see the day…” He quickly marched down the gangplank and bumped fists enthusiastically with Garta. “You’ve finally made it out here!”

“So I have.” Garta cast a glance towards the rest of the village. “It’s… it’s not bad.”

“It’s perfect!” Ario declared as he stepped around him and gestured over the village. “This, my friend, is where we should’ve been from the beginning.”

“No place like home?” Garta smiled.

“No place like this, that’s for sure.” Ario took a deep, satisfied breath. “Fresh air, peace and quiet, plenty o’ fish. You wouldn’t believe the wealth that the Galonu sends into the Komisi every day. You’re not still fishing off Gol-Rui, are you?”

“I’ve got the Golyi,” Garta countered. “I can get by.”

Ario crossed his arms. “Oh, I’m sure you do. But let me tell you, once you see what I’ve caught today, you’ll wish you’d been here all along. Oh! You’ll have to meet Eyres first.” He started for the other platform and motioned for Garta to follow. “Eyres!” he called out before even reaching the hut with his name by the door. “We’ve been honored with a visit by a friend!”

“Have we now?” The Ce-Matoran called from inside in a slightly sarcastic tone. “Who is it?”

“Garta from Gol-Rui!” Ario called back as he marched in and headed straight for a side room. Garta stopped in the doorway.

Eyres entered the common room from the opposite direction. She flashed a quick smile to Garta, then called after Ario: “I didn’t know he was in town!”

“I didn’t know he was coming!” Ario’s reply was accompanied by some clattering of wood against wood.

Eyres made her way over to Garta, wiping her hand with a kitchen rag, then reached out with a clean fist that he bumped in greeting. “Welcome to Ga-Koro,” she said and motioned for him to come in. As he did so, she closed the door and continued in a subdued tone: “I hope he hasn’t talked your ears off yet.” Garta gave a slight smile and shook his head.

Ario reappeared, carrying a chair which he promptly placed at the table that occupied the center of the room. “Ah, you’ve met. Very good!”

“A pleasure,” Garta confirmed.

“Oh, you’ve not seen anything yet,” Ario assured him. “Wait ‘till you see what’s on the menu tonight.”

“Yeah, I should get back to… preparing the feast for the occasion,” Eyres heartily chimed in, then disappeared in the same direction from which she’d entered.

Ario motioned for Garta to take a seat while he settled on the couch. “I caught a great one today. A product of the summer bounty, I’ll say, and as fresh as you’ll ever get it.”

“Sounds excellent.” Garta took the new chair.

“Oh, it will be. Eyres here has a fantastic recipe down. Taste-tested by hundreds, including the discerning taste of yours truly.”

“Come now, that’s a little much!” Eyres called from the kitchen.

“Has anyone at the inn ever complained about it?” Ario called back.

“Not that I heard!”

“My point stands.” Ario turned back to Garta, who couldn’t help but smile. His friend was the same as ever. “Did that little boat get you all the way here?”

“Just in the nick of time, yeah,” Garta nodded. “Calm waters today.”

“You picked a good day. Wind’s been up and all over the place since that storm hit your town. How’d you get through that, by the way?”

“Wasn’t too bad for me. It mainly hit the city center, and I’m north of there. I had to push my boat back into the water and pick some driftwood out of my roof, but that was about it. Checked the hull while I was at it.”

“When life throws you avubolo…”

“Exactly. I see you’ve upgraded since you got here.”

“Absolutely. We built that boat by hand once we got here. Crew of three, and I get to call myself captain. Just like the early days.”

“You’re still working with Kayalan and… ehm…”

“Imsiha?” Ario remembered immediately. “Imsiha’s around, yeah. She’s two huts down. Kayalan…” he sighed. “We lost him a while ago.” Garta knew immediately what took him; time was not kind to the Matoran of Misira Nui. “He raised a daughter, though,” Ario pointed out. “Nugatu’s a fine sailor. One day that boat’ll be hers.”

“One day…” Garta nodded slowly. Thoughts of the future now brought profound uneasiness with them.

“Hey, we’ve got plenty of years left,” Ario assured him. “I mean, nothing’s falling to pieces yet.” His eyes scanned Garta up and down. “Not that I can see, at least.”

“Yeah, yeah. You look fine too.” Garta gave a slight smile.

Ario gestured to the west-facing window. “Open water and clean air, my friend, are why we’ve seen so many sunsets. We’ll see many more. Of course, daily fresh ruki doesn’t hurt either.”

“Speaking of fresh ruki, it’ll be ready soon in here!” Eyres called over. “It won’t make the table if there’s nothing to serve it on, though!”

“Ah, that’s my cue.” Ario got up and made his way to the kitchen. Garta looked out the window, where light clouds, pink and gold in the evening light, slowly coalesced over the dark Komisi. He’d seen many sunsets, sure, but something about recent events made every sign of time more threatening now. All through the day’s trip, a realization of his age had been playing with his nerves on top of the possible Toa stone and its implications. Something about Ario’s attitude made him feel more equipped to face it, but the unease remained. Before long, though, a large, well-prepared ruki was set on the table and took his mind away from all that.

So far, so good on the first-of-the-month schedule.