The first thing Matoro felt was shock. His eyelids were struggling to open, yet he forced them shut. Shouldn’t I be dead? The Toa of Ice thought to himself. A shiver ran down his spine as he lay in what felt like prairie grass.
What if I failed to save Mata Nui? What if, somehow, the Mask of Life didn’t do its work? No. He had to have saved the life of the Great Spirit. Yet how was he alive? Matoro tried to reach out to try to feel the presence of overlord of Bionicle, but surprisingly he found no sign of Mata Nui. What was going on?
Finally he opened his eyes. Matoro was on a plain. But it was no normal plain. The color of the grass was dead, the sky grayish-black, shades much worse than even the polluted skies of Xia. A slight reddish tinge was in the air, like that of a sunset. But no peace or joy filled Matoro.
Fear filled the Toa. His thoughts of failing his destiny haunted him. He was even more afraid when he saw the contents that covered the plains. Corpses, thousands upon thousands of them. They surrounded Matoro, each and every one of them standing out from the others, nearly every species. Skakdi, Vortixx, Toa, Turaga, Matoran, even an occasional Dark Hunter and even Makuta here and there. Breeds of Rahi, some that Matoro only recognized from the legends, littered this world.
“Where am I?” Matoro wondered aloud, amazement and horror in his voice. He stumbled at the sight of all of the death around him. Getting to his feet, Matoro realized that he was in a clearing. A giant circle with a symbol carved in it separated Matoro from the rest of the corpses. It reminded him of the trademark of Karzahni. Matoro stood in the center of the symbol, which was clear of any debris.
Whispers began to rise from the corpses. The words hung in mid-air, literally taking up the atmosphere. The hero listened to them at first, and then whirled around, not knowing where to go. Pleas for help, for resurrection, they began to flow like water. Matoro whined, becoming more scared with each passing moment. Was this his doing? Hoping so, he tore his Kanohi Tryna, Mask of Reanimation, praying that the whispers would stop.
The haunted mask did nothing. Its power might have been active, it might have not. He didn’t care. The Toa threw the mask. He didn’t even think about the headache that would occur from an absence of a Kanohi. Matoro chucked it as far as his strength would allow. Maybe, he considered, the mask was cracked and its power was leaking out.
The whispers still didn’t stop. They only grew more intense. Matoro covered his ears. Stop it! Stop it! He mentally screamed. The whispers only began to advance. They amplified. Matoro was on his knees, crying for help. Help from the Great Beings, from Mata Nui, anyone, even the Makuta of Metru Nui, to make the whispers stop.
Through his tear filled eyes, Matoro saw something lying on the ground. It was his mask. But it wasn’t the mask he threw. It was his mask of Spirit! The Iden! Out of desperation, Matoro thrust the mask onto his face and attempted to activate the power.
Only the mask wouldn’t work.
As screams and pleas for resurrection echoed around him, Matoro struggled to turn on the power of his Mask of Spirit. He still had the mental discipline for using a mask, but none of it was coming to him. The Toa of Ice pounded on the dirt in frustration, and then reality hit him as his fist plunged through the dirt.
He was in his spirit form.
A wave of reality hit Matoro as hard as a Kane-Ra bull. Ascending to his feet, he wiped his eyes. The Toa took one step, and then another. A few more paces, and he was out of the circle. When the hero stepped out, images flashed in front of him. Fragments of a battle, featuring everyone on this field. All of them, dying slowly, as painfully as possible.
What madness is this? He thought. Matoro began to run, abandoning the onslaught of pain from the ‘dead’ victims that littered the ground. He ran, jumping over the dead, who littered the soil. Looking ahead, the Toa saw bare trees. Maybe that patch of woods was a promise land. Maybe there was a living being in there, one that understood what this realm was. The thought gave him strength as he moved on.
As Matoro came to the woods, he slowed. The screams, echoes of cries and pleas sounded distant now, although they were still there in his head. When the Toa of Ice came to a sturdy tree, he leaned on it to take a breather. He had made it alive!
Or was he alive? The question still troubled the Toa of Ice’s mind. He pondered the query again. Was he truly alive? Deep down, he had a feeling of something, a part of him, a part that was gone, never to be seen again. He felt as if he did not truly live.
“Going somewhere, living one?”
Matoro whirled. Who had spoken the words? Was there another living being here? Could his hopes be true? Or could his fears be confirmed? Was he alive, or was he dead? Matoro whirled again, looking for the speaker.
“You died, yet you walk. How is that to be meddler?”
“Meddler?” Matoro questioned. “I die, yet I walk? What is that supposed to mean?” He whirled once more, and then backed up against a tree.
Upon a tree, whose wood was damaged and broken, leaned a being of a combination of wood and moss. His body, brown and dark green, seemed to blend in with the dead forest that surrounded him. His arms were crossed, and a not so nice expression on his Kanohi-less face. Pushing himself off the tree, his substance shifted. He snatched a twisted sword of wood from a branch in the tree.
“You,” the being said, frustrated. The way he moved reminded Matoro of the Piraka Zaktan, a being constructed of protodites. “You violate the order of this realm. You have died, but not truly. It is my duty to keep the order here.”
“Order?” Matoro wondered. “What are you talking about?” Suddenly an abrupt shift came from Matoro’s stomach, as if he had eaten a bad bula berry. He had a feeling this encounter was not going to be good.
The entity lashed out with his sword. He was lightning fast, his reflexes and strength taking Matoro off his guard and off his feet. On the ground, the Toa created an icicle and threw it at his opponent. It flew right through the moss like body and embedded itself in a tree. It came as an annoyance to the moss entity, so he swung his sword.
Matoro rolled as the wooden blade came down upon him. Dead soil, devoid of any nutrient, flew into the air, peppering the Toa of Ice’s armor. Matoro lashed out with his twin cutters… or what he thought was his weapon. From out of nowhere Matoro’s old Inika frost blade flew. It shot electrically infused ice bolts, which coursed through the moss-being’s substance. He yelled in agony.
How was this possible? Matoro asked himself as he parried the next attack. The swords clashed. How could the Toa have had access to the blade? It had been transformed into the cutters via the power of the Mask of Life. How did it come here now?
Matoro wasn’t complaining. A new weapon gave him the edge. He threw his sword in a sweeping motion. His enemy was enveloped in a coating of ice. He was frozen solid, as stiff as a rock. Matoro could see his enemy trying to move around, only to be zapped by the lightning inside the ice. For the first time that day, Matoro smiled. His grin morphed into an expression of fear and confusion as he went to brush his armor off.
He was in his Inika form.
What in the name of Mata Nui was this place?
Suddenly the icy prison began to glow. With an earsplitting bang! It fragmented and split, crystals flying everywhere. Matoro wished he had a Mask of Shielding.
He wouldn’t need one, the next event proved. From the treetops flew a blur of color, fire bursting from it. The ice spikes that were closing in on Matoro were vaporized, and he was slammed in the chest by a long metal object. The mysterious entity stopped in front of Matoro and unleashed a ball of flame on the moss-being. The air was filled with the smell of burning.
This was too much for Matoro. Looking past the figure that protected him, he saw the moss-being burning up. He screamed in agony as the flames consumed him. It was a horrible fate, Matoro decided. As the Toa was scooped off the ground, he suddenly felt exhausted. He began to drift asleep as he flew away, smiling as he saw his rescuer’s face.