Chapter 8

In the darkness, he couldn’t see his opponent very well, but he could see good enough to see where his opponents’ sword came from so he could block it with his own. The only sound that could be heard was the clashing between their weapons. Whenever he tried to hit his foe, his attacks were blocked. As the battle drew on, he started to feel tired, but he knew that he couldn’t give up, not now when he was so close. His opponent made a thrusting strike, which made him dodge backwards into the light. As his foe emerged from the darkness, the familiar smirk on Narzhul’s face told Orxon that the Makuta in front of him were enjoying this.

Orxon prepared for another strike against his foe, but before he could react, Narzhul slashed against his hand. His sword fell to the ground, and as the Toa screamed in pain, he dropped on his knee, clutching the stub on his sword arm. The Makuta placed himself in front of him, and raised his weapon to deal the final blow. So, he had finally lost. He then heard a distant scream, it was Veerah and she was creaming his name. He knew that he had lost and that there was nothing he could do about it, and he closed his eyes and waited for the final blow to strike him…

Orxon woke up, his eyes frantically searching the room for any danger. When his senses finally came together and realized that it was just a bad dream, he noticed that his Kanohi Arthron had activated its mask power as well. He could feel some slight movement right next to him, but he knew it was just Veerah. He deactivated his mask power and tried to calm down from the dream.

It was the same dream he had been having for almost a year now, but this time it was different. In this dream, he had finally seen that the foe was indeed the Makuta Narzhul, and that scream… It had been so distant before, but now he had heard that it was Veerah screaming his name. He couldn’t make any sense of it, since he hadn’t met her until a day ago, and he knew that he couldn’t see into the future.

He tried to just let it go, since it was after all just a dream. But he couldn’t help but feel troubled about it. That was until he looked to his right and saw Veerah sleeping next to him. She was facing him, which made Orxon a little bit uncomfortable since they had been sleeping in the same bed during the night. But that feeling, as well as his thoughts of his dream, vanished by just looking at her calm expression on her golden Kakama. He focused just on the features of her mask, and couldn’t do otherwise but to admire her beauty.

He then thought back to her story that she told him, how she had been treated by her father, her fellow Toa and pretty much all of the inhabitants on her former home island. It was something that made him feel very sorry for her, for no one should suffer through a past like that. But her calm, relaxed and smiling face, at least he thought it looked like she was smiling, didn’t give the impression of everything that she had gone through.

And now, he felt that odd feeling again. He had felt that since he first had met her, at the hands of two Skakdi that had taken her a prisoner. He had been confused by this feeling, and discarded the possibility that it could be… love? No, it couldn’t be, for he believed it to be impossible to fall in love at first sight, that was just something that some believed in, and that it would be nothing but happiness ever after. Just like in the stories…

He had thought about this feeling, and he now came to the conclusion that it simply had been about actually having some company. For the last year, he had been very lonely, but now with Veerah at his side, he had someone to travel with and talk to. Which had made him cheer up a bit, and started to think more positively.

Yep, that must be why, he thought. It made sense, so why shouldn’t it be it?

He couldn’t tell what the time was, since there were no windows in their room that could show him how it looked outside. But he presumed it was early in the morning, because his nightmare always woke him up at the same time in the morning each time. He got up from the bed, had one final look at Veerah’s sleeping form, and then got out of the room. He considered leaving a message for her in case she woke up before he got back, but given the lack of papers and something to write with, it was kind of a moot point anyway.

Orxon walked down the stairs back to the main floor. Unsurprisingly, it was almost empty at this early hour, which he could see now since there were windows down here. He scanned the room quickly, and soon he found the one he was looking for. He approached the table, which was situated at the wall, and then sat down and nodded to the small being in front of him.

It was a Matoran, a Ta-Matoran to be precise. Unlike most Matorans he had met before, this one had some scars on both his body and his red Pakari. His left eye was shining brightly like the sun itself, and the other eye was hidden behind a black eyepatch. This Ta-Matoran certainly gave the impression that he had been part in quite some adventures. Orxon also noted that he was drinking something, probably something that shouldn’t be drunk at this early hour.

“Hey, Orxon! Long time no see, eh?” the Ta-Matoran said.

“Yes, it has been quite some time, Rurak,” he replied. In fact, they hadn’t seen each other for a few weeks.

“Hey, you may be my friend, but I’m still Captain Rurak to you!” the Matoran exclaimed. And it wasn’t the first time he did so when they would meet.

“Sure, Captain Rurak,” Orxon said with slight annoyance while trying to emphasize that particular word as much as Rurak always did.

“That’s better! So, how have you fared since last time? Still haven’t found that Narzhul fella yet, eh?”

Orxon then told him everything that had happened since last time they met, most notably how he had dispatched the Skakdi mercenary Akron, gotten a possible lead on the Makuta he was after, and how he had saved Veerah. Once he was finished, the Ta-Matoran just smirked at him.

“Well, sooner or later the hero of the story meets the girl,” he said with amusement in his voice. Orxon knew exactly what he meant.

“That’s not… I don’t see her that way, I’m just glad to have some company after being so lonely for so long.”

“Sure, sure… then why are you blushing like that?” When Rurak saw his Toa-friends confused expression, he couldn’t help but laugh. But suddenly, his laughter died down and he looked more thoughtful.

“So… you believe the Makuta you’re after has gone back to Kastra Nui? But why? That doesn’t make any sense to me.”

“I’ve been asking myself that very question” Orxon said, glad that his friend had dropped the subject of Veerah, at least for now. “No matter how much I think about it, I just can’t seem to make any sense of it… But then again, he is not really known for making sense either.”

“True, but still… Even in the maddest lunatics in this world, some sort of predictability can be found,” Rurak said.

“Maybe, but Narzhul is more mad then the maddest and craziest beings I’ve encountered before.” Rurak nodded to that, knowing that he couldn’t really argue with that. Not that he had met Narzhul personally himself though.

“So, all that stands now is returning to your home, kill this Makuta and live happily ever after with that girl, eh?” That didn’t last long, Orxon couldn’t say that he wasn’t surprised this topic coming up again. He sighed.

“I told you I don’t look at her like that…” he started.

“Somehow, I don’t really believe you,” Rurak said with a smirk on his face. “Believe me, that look on your face, I’ve seen it many times before.” Before Orxon could answer to that, he noticed that a certain someone was looking at their direction.

The first thought that came to her mind when she woke up, was that she couldn’t remember the last time she had had a good sleep like this. It was almost to the point where Veerah didn’t want to wake up at all, and instead just continue to sleep. But she knew that she couldn’t do that, so she did open her eyes grudgingly.

That was when she noticed that Orxon wasn’t in the bed anymore. Her first reaction, albeit paranoid, was that he had abandoned her and was continuing his quest by himself. But the rational side of her figured that he probably had just went out to conclude some business, for instance getting a boat so they could get out of here. She knew that neither of them wanted to spend more time than was necessary in this town.

After some hesitation, she got up from the bed and decided to get out as well. She didn’t really feel comfortable alone, not after having spent a day with her new friend. She got downstairs and was about to head out of the inn, when she noticed that Orxon was sitting at a table in a corner with someone else. It was a Ta-Matoran, she recognized by his color, and he was wearing a Pakari. She also noticed that this Matoran had an eyepatch over his right eye, and on both his mask and his body, there seemed to be a quite a few scars. One thing was for certain, this wasn’t your average Matoran.

They were talking about something, but before she could make out what they were saying, Orxon noticed that she was looking at them and stopped talking. The Ta-Matoran stopped talking as well and looked at her, and it seemed that he was wearing a smirk over his mask. She took their silence as a sign to walk up to them, which she did.

“Ah, so this is the Veerah girl you mentioned?” the Ta-Matoran asked, his smirk growing bigger. “Orxon and I were just talking about y…”

“About how I found you,” Orxon interrupted. The Ta-Matoran was grinning from ear to ear, and Orxon blushed lightly. Somehow, she got the impression there was something more to this that Orxon didn’t want to reveal. Maybe she could figure it out herself with her psionic power…

“So… are you going to introduce us?” she asked after a few seconds of awkward silence.

“Hm? Oh, yes!” Orxon gestured for Veerah to take a seat at the table.

“Veerah, this is Rurak…” The Ta-Matoran named Rurak coughed and gave Orxon an unpleasant look. Orxon closed his eyes and sighed, clearly annoyed.

Captain Rurak,” he then said with a tone of annoyance. Rurak didn’t seem care about it though. “He’s a friend of mine, and he is our ticket out of here,” Orxon then said. Veerah simply nodded, grateful they had already gotten some transportation.

“Good, the sooner we get out of this place, the better,” she said. Orxon nodded in agreement. “But…”

“Why is a Ta-Matoran a captain of a ship, eh?” Rurak interrupted, Veerah was surprised that he knew exactly what she was going to ask. When he noticed the surprise on her face, he simply said, “I get that question a lot.”

“Yes, I’m fully aware of the irony, but I can’t help but feel the call of the sea and the call of adventure, and of both I’ve seen plenty of. Don’t believe me? Take a closer look on my scars!” Rurak seemed quite confident of himself, while showing off the scars he was wearing. Veerah figured that this Matoran was confident, and possibly thought himself a womanizer, believing that females would flock around him like hungry Muakas. Maybe it worked for some, but it surely didn’t for Veerah, she knew better then falling for such simple tricks.

“But the best one – well, at least the one with the best story behind it, is this.” He pointed towards the eyepatch covering his right eye. “That, my friend, I got when I fought against the Great White Takea Shark. Takea Sharks are quite ferocious on their own, but this one…is really special. It’s bigger and even more ferocious, and with its white scales and red eyes, it looks like something from a nightmare. I got lucky that I just lost an eye, for that thing could have swallowed me whole…”

The Ta-Matoran captain had a serious tone in his voice, not like the tone he had just a moment ago. Maybe she had judged him too quickly.

“Aye, I was lucky. But mark my words, one day I’ll find this beast again, and I will take out my vengeance against it!” Veerah winced slightly when Rurak said this, instantly thinking of Orxon and how he had said that he would have his vengeance against the Makuta that had killed his friends and the Matoran he had sworn to protect. The way the Ta-Matoran had worded this was almost similar to how Orxon had said it.

Silence broke out between the two Toa and the Matoran, until Rurak put a smile on his face.

“So, when do you want to leave? My drink is finished and I’ve used my last widgets, so there’s nothing stopping me from going now.” Now Veerah noticed the bottle the Matoran had been drinking from, and by looking at the label on the bottle, she instantly knew it was way too early for such a drink.

“Soon, but there is one thing we need to do before we can leave,” Orxon said, and then he looked at Veerah. “We need to get you a new weapon, so you can fight for yourself. And don’t worry, I’ll pay for it.”

She was surprised to hear this, but she immediately felt glad. She had lost her weapon when she had been taken prisoner, and while she understood the reasoning behind Orxon’s decision in the fight against the Skakdi, she didn’t want to feel like some sort of prize again. Having a weapon of her own would prove that she could fight for herself just fine.

For some odd reason, Rurak smirked.

“While you’re at it, you should probably buy an enga…” he started, but stopped when Orxon sent him an angry glare that could have stopped a Kikanalo dead in its tracks. Whatever that was about, Veerah had the feeling it had something to do with what they had talked about before, which made her even more curios of the conversation. Using her psionic powers felt very tempting right now… Although she realized that she didn’t feel comfortable about digging through one of their minds to find out about a private conversation, but she had the feeling that it was in some way about her, making her use of her powers seem justified. At least in her mind.

But before she could decide, or simply just ask what they were referring to, the doors were slammed open. Oh great, the Skakdi is back, she immediately thought while turning around to see who had decided their presence to be of great importance. At the hallway, two Toa-like beings were standing there, seemingly scanning the room. But while they shared the same height as the average Toa, these two beings were clearly not any Toa. Their bodies were completely grey, and they didn’t wear any Kanohi masks. Their eyes shone brightly orange, but there was something odd about them, they didn’t seem to have any life in them.

Intrigued and slightly disturbed, Veerah used her powers to try getting into their minds, only to discover there was nothing to find. It was like the beings didn’t have a mind of their own. She turned around to face her company again, thinking that maybe it was best to pretend those beings weren’t there. But when her eyes caught Orxon, she froze.

The Toa of Gravity was sitting upright, and he was staring directly at the two beings. His hands were clenched, and his facial expression was full of hate. This sight made Veerah feel uneasy and quite scared, as she had never seen him like this. But it was at that moment she realized what the beings were.

They had been part of the army that had massacred his home island.

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