Grin In the Dark

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The yellow teeth were what made him hesitate. He’d never seen teeth so sordid, stained and pitted, yet smiling the same wide smile, as he watched from far away in the darkness. It made him hesitate, his muscles unwilling to push off the rock he spied from. He didn’t want to go near the Skakdi, he would rather slink away behind a rock and convince himself there would be some better assignment when he opened his eyes again.

Ahkmou was still a coward, but as a Toa of Shadow he had better ways to hide. Teridax had made sure of that. They were connected by that, he thought- never brave enough to get right in the thick of things, fleeing when it went bad… he shook all these frightened thoughts off as he felt a tug on his mind. Makuta was getting impatient, and he was letting his servant know. It was time to finish this hunt.

He slithered from the rock, activating a Kanohi Huna as he crept along the cliffside. The group of Skakdi did not notice the shadows that followed, assuming them to be from the fire that crackled in the center of their group. While some of them growled and grinned stupidly, however, the leader, the one Ahkmou was sent to retrieve, stared from his throne, a few feet away from the action, something bigger in his eyes that was a pale reflection in the others.

Like an animal defending his home, Ahkmou thought as he crept along. Most animals were more afraid of whoever explored their homes than the explorers were. His time exploring Po-Koro, of all places, taught him that. He would attack brutally so he wouldn’t expose his fear, so he could complete the mission, and they would never suspect… He readied his Rhotuka and shadow scythe, listening carefully to the words spoken along the campfire.

“The Brotherhood will exclude our faithful service from their credentials,” the lead Skakdi told his brothers. “They will conquer the world on the impression that they are able to do it on their own, and the world will crumble before them. But they will not realize it was us that helped them, and as the ground crumbles we will be waiting under the rubble. We will show them it is merely their own ground they mine!” He licked his lips in a repulsive way that made Ahkmou shudder as he lined up his weapon to fire.

The first shadow bolt struck silently at one who stepped away from the fire. Noone noticed as he was swallowed by the shadows. The second, he was the same, not realizing the night in which he celebrated was his enemy. Ahkmou pecked off a few more, mustering some courage as others disappeared due to his handiwork without notice. Anonymity granted him bravery, and for the first time that night, he smiled as wickedly as the Skakdi.

Soon the Skakdi began to see the shadows creeping in, not shining out from their fire. The grins were still plastered to their faces, but the puzzle could be seen in their expressions. Ahkmou fired tight-lipped, as if speaking would let his courage leak out; though most of them panicked, the one of the creatures he feared seemed to glow in the dark, his plaque filled smile brighter as the Toa of Shadow increased his fire.

He was crouching low on the rock he shot from, but somehow he slipped, and went tumbling down. Ahkmou crashed into the center of the campsite, and to the view of all of the Skakdi. The element of surprise was gone, and he waited for them to swarm upon him.

The blade at his throat was not meant to penetrate, but Ahkmou wished it did. His eyes remained shut as he felt fear creep back into his mind, trying frantically to replace it with the image of a Kualsi, anything that would help him. But the only thing that came were the words of the Skakdi in his ear. “You heard what we said. Flee to your master, and tell them of the Karzahni that will arrive at their door soon enough.” The pause was enough to send Ahkmou speeding out of the cave and back to Destral.

As the Toa of Shadow fled, the beasts recovered their injured and unconscious, their grins returning as the fire lighted the cave once more. The hunter was now the hunted.

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