Thursday, September 29, 2016

LoL Chapter 8- A Jump For Love

Episode 8- “A Jump For Love”

Lewa had stayed in the fire region with Tahu, figuring he mind as well remain there till Ashton's funeral had passed. On the third day, Tahu and Lewa met at the “Heroes Cemetery” where nearly all of the water kingdom workers, queen, and princess gathered. Tajun traditions were then carried out.
Queen Nilla raises a hand, and servants kneel, holding a bowl of water to her. She nods in thanks and cuffs the water in her palms, kissing it and watching it ripple. She’s then handed an oil in a small blue bottle which is poured into the water and mixed around. Nilla raises her eyes to the sky, then released the water back into the bowl, and splashes Ashton’s sarcophagus with it.
All those of the water kingdom clap their hands once and then sing an odd song which sounds ancient.
Lewa lifts a brow as he watches this and whispers to Tahu, “What are they strange-doing? It’s most weird-odd.” he mutters.
Tahu shrugs and shakes his head, trying to be subtle and not speak too much during a ceremony. “Honestly Lewa, I have no idea. Water types have weird traditions, especially the ones not of Mata Nui.”
Lewa tightens his lips and tries not to snicker at Tahu’s last statement, refraining laughter and directing his attention back to the queen who prepares to give yet another speech.
Gathered friends, and noble heroes; today we must say goodbye to yet another great man. We’ve all seen sacrifice, experienced heartbreak, and have lost many good men to the shadows and wicked ways of darkness. But whether the hero be experienced and touched by age, or youthful and bold in spirit and body, there is one thing each of them contains, and that is light.
Through the ages, the ones that have given their lives to protect others from the darkness, have shown that no matter how great or small, there is a light within each of us, one that thrives to triumph over the shadows and be at peace with our brethren.
I’ve noticed the one great thing about this light, is that even in death it sparks the light within us all, and lives on as a beaming example to others, showing that you don’t have to be someone in order to be a hero.
And that’s what Toa Ashton showed. He was known by few, had a hard past and low life; but in the end he proved that anyone could do the right thing when it calls for it; and for that, I hold my utmost respect for the poor young man. May his light live on.” she says while bowing her head.
Fiamma starts to cry and turn her head. Nilla sighs and comes over quietly, gently lifting Fiamma’s hand and placing Ashton's medallion in her palm for safe keeping, to preserve the memory of a friend and the sacrifice he made.
Fiamma takes it mournfully and clutches it in her hand, stepping away and nodding to the queen in thanks.
Nilla nods in return and signals for Ashton’s sarcophagus to be slipped into the beautifully carved shrine painted and carved with his regions symbols.
Lewa keeps his eyes to the ground for most of it, and Tahu watches semi bitterly. Once the morning past, and all departed, Lewa bid Tahu goodbye, and flew home weary hearted.

Lewa was so glad to return to his forest home after several days of being away in lands of fire, water, and sand. It was a joy to finally step into his tree home, and be able to sit down for a nice nap or a browse through Junti poetry.
Lewa pauses, thinking twice and taking a double glance at the Junti poem book filled with odd, pretty love songs of their tongue. Suddenly his mind is instantly brought away from sorrow of the day as he thinks of Venimbus, and wonders if he could pay her a visit.
In that thought Lewa sighs happily, going dreamy eyed again and flipping through the poem book. He memorizes a few he thinks sound pretty, but has little knowledge of how sappy they are, his understanding of Junti still rough and wobbly. “Oh, if only I sure-knew she would like these.” he says to himself.
At that, he stands, his heart filled with hope of impressing Venimbus with a little poetry, but where was she? Where would he even start? He paces back and forth, these thoughts pressuring him.
Suddenly he thinks of the market and snaps his fingers, figuring if anywhere, the market would be the best place to search first. Maybe someone knew her, or knew at least a few details of her whereabouts.
Lewa smiles, and stands, immediately dashing out and flying to the local market. When he lands, he runs around desperately, asking any jungle Agori he can about Venimbus, hoping they might be able to help him.
Much to his frustration however, the Agori who were familiar with Venimbus shook their heads at Lewa's foolish pursuit, feeling he was crazy for even thinking twice about pursuing Venimbus, and refusing to tell him anything about her.
Lewa hangs his head and sighs, pouting slightly.
Suddenly a jungle Matoran shouts out to him, “Hey buddy?! Did you say you're looking for Venimbus?” he chuckles. Lewa lifts his head quickly and nods, his eyes hopeful again as he nears the jungle Matoran's cart.
Aye, you know anything about her, like where I can seek-find her?” he asks desperately.
The Matoran smiles, his mischief and desire to play pranks as strong as can be. Little did Lewa know this Matoran had been listening and watching this entire time, knowing exactly how he feels, and also knowing that every man who has pursued Venimbus ended up facing some sort of humiliation; and just for laughs, decides to 'help' Lewa.
Yeah, names Jocon. Have a little crush on the Junti known as Venimbus do ya? Well hop in line pal, I've been observing her for years. I have a little crush on her too, just a dream of course. I could never have a woman like that as long as I'm short.” he chuckles.
Lewa smiles and laughs at Jocon's boldness.“So... You know more about her? Like what?”
Jocon leans in a bit and glances around, snickering. “Well, she comes to this market every other weekend, sometimes even visits my cart. Careful about approaching her too fast, or you might get shot with a sleeping dart. She lives in one of the Junti regions, a camp...but seems to go from one place to another... not sure what's up with that.”
Lewa nods, absorbing this information and flipping out a notepad, jotting down what he can, scribbling as fast as Jocon can talk.
Jocon laughs at him and continues telling him things about Venimbus, answering many of Lewa's questions.

A good 15 minutes later, much to Lewa's surprise, Venimbus shows up at the market, browsing at some distant carts. Lewa looks around and his heart skips a beat, his eyes going wide and his dumbfounded smile spreading across his face again as he looks at Venimbus dreamy eyed.
Jocon smirks, seeing Lewa is definitely head over heels for her; and continues his mischief, nudging Lewa and smirking. “Well, what are you waiting for? Why don't you try talking with her?” he chuckles, twitching his eyebrows and snickering.
Lewa holds his breath for a moment, then breathes out and nods, slowly approaching Venimbus with caution and subtly waving, managing to creak out a “hello” while trying to keep fluster off his face.

Venimbus glances at him, pausing for a moment, then recognizing him and sighing. She shakes her head and tries to ignore him, feeling a bit grouchy.
Lewa tenses a bit and builds up enough courage to try and quote poetry as planned. He clears his throat and starts, smiling awkwardly and circling her a bit to get her attention, like a gukko bird trying to fluff its feathers for a female.
As he quotes, Venimbus pauses, her lips tightening as she holds back inner laughter and the feeling of embarrassment, glancing around and noticing other passing market shoppers attentions are slightly caught by Lewa's foolery, there low snickers loud enough to be heard.
Venimbus sighs again, briskly walking around Lewa and shaking her head, secretly feeling pity and amusement all at once at his attempt, knowing he's wobbly in Junti, and probably doesn't realize the poems he chose to quote were some of the sappiest she's ever heard.
Venimbus speeds up pace in her market shopping, ignoring Lewa as best she can and speeding off back towards the jungle trails as soon as possible, secretly smiling inside at Lewa's attempt, but having no time to deal with him.
Lewa hangs his head as she runs off, but in his desperateness, and fear he'll never see her again, he secretly and silently follows her through the forest.
She's unaware of this, and in the next half hour reaches the gate of Camp Cobrales, slipping inside and vanishing from Lewa's view.
Lewa had watched her enter, observing from up in a tree, and assumes she must live in this gated Junti region. He sighs, thinking things over. The multiple jungle Agori he's spoken to had all warned him and stated multiple times that you never cross the borders of Junti territories if you didn't want to have a bad day and get into serious trouble. He bites his lip, his mind flipping between warnings and the thought of Venimbus.
Finally he smirks, muttering to himself, “Eh, jungle Agori always have seemed a bit superstitious and spook-jumpy. What harm could come from a gate-jump? Besides, I'm green like everyone else...they probably won't even flick-bat a lash at me.” he thinks, chuckling and shrugging off the warnings like swatting a bug, all for the sake of possible love.
At that, Lewa foolishly, and boldly climbs down from the tree, nears the top of the gate, and jumps over. He lands swiftly on his feet, hoping no one noticed him, remaining cautious but still pursuing Venimbus, wherever she was in this apparently massive Junti region.
Lewa stays along the gate, slinking past people and hiding behind trees, tensing slightly as he slips past warriors and guards, hoping they don't pay attention to him as he passes.
As Lewa makes his way through the camp, he's awed and bewildered by the cultural styles and customs of the Junti people. He observes their warrior garments, tattoos and military symbols, splendid feather head dresses on certain women, and so many other things that just puzzle, yet fascinate him.
Little did Lewa know that while he explored, observed, and sought out Venimbus; a warning had already been given to Jujunwa, the Junti general of Camp Cobrales. One of the watch guards from far off had seen Lewa jump the gate, and passed the warning on.

Meanwhile, Lewa nears the women area of camp, and spots Venimbus rinsing off her armor under some bathing fountains amongst other Junti women who chattered and laughed, all of them speaking Junti.
Lewa gulps, even more awe struck at the sight of a whole group of tall green women, and cautiously approaches, looking at Venimbus and glancing around even more flustered when the other women start to titter and whisper to each other, looking at him and pointing, then laughing and tittering some more.
Lewa has no idea what they're saying, but does his best to try, and puts a hand up, “V... V...V...Venimbus? ” he stutters, creaking and feeling so flustered he can hardly make out any words, twiddling his thumbs and looking at her, trying not to seem desperate or pitiful and stutters out, “H....h...h...hi. look v...v...very n..nice-pretty” he croaks. “C… c… can I… t… talk to you?”.
The other Junti women titter and laugh, looking him over, and a few nudge Venimbus with their elbows.
Hey he's cute, looks like another one is after you. When will they get the clue?” the one laughs.
Another adds in, “Say, if she can't stand him, maybe I can, look at that chest armor, and those cheeks!” she says with slight admiration.
Venimbus's eye twitches slightly at the ones open flirting for Lewa, feeling a twinge of secret jealousy, and aggravated at the others joking of him being so desperate like so many others.
Venimbus looks down, hiding her emotions as best she can and looks at Lewa who grins awkwardly and taps his fingers even more, blushing and looking down at his feet for a moment, sputtering sound, but unable to get more words out as he thinks to himself of how pitiful he must seem, not knowing where to even start, or even how to explain what he feels when he sees her. “I...I...I just... um...” he creaks.
Venimbus starts to feel pity. ‘This poor man... so foolish to jump the gate and follow me here. But oh, the fact he even pursued this far makes him seem so much more charming than others. These other women know nothing about strength and charm....His chest aint bad, but those legs...Oooo. And his mask, so different, so quirky, so bold and bubbly looking.’ she thinks to herself, a smile spreading on her face as she looks Lewa over, warming more and more as she thinks about the sound of his voice, funny accent, and the color of his eyes.
Lewa looks at her and notices her subtle, charmed smile, and he starts feeling less afraid, lifting his head up a bit more and stepping forward slightly. “ it's n… nice to be....I....I mean where you…live is very nice.” he nods, shaking a bit.
One of the younger Junti girls peeks at Lewa and feels insecure, then runs off to find a guard and warn that someone is talking with Venimbus.
Lewa holds his breath slightly and slowly offers a hand, hoping Venimbus might shake it, his smile awkward and his hand slightly trembling. Venimbus looks at his hand, slightly smiling, and slowly starts to lift hers, getting ready to return the greeting; but right as soon as their fingers almost touch, Venimbus flinches, noticing guards, the general, and the captain approaching.
She lowers her hand instantly to her side again as Jujunwa catches Lewa off guard and grabs him by the scruff of the neck.
Lewa flinches and flails, feeling almost immobile from the grip, unable to function and free himself, stuttering a bit more, uncomfortable and tense.
Venimbus hangs her head slightly, but observes and hides her feelings well.
Jujunwa drags Lewa over to a nearby tree.“Captain, hang him by his feet and bind his wrists.” states Jujunwa.
Lewa flinches, more tense because he has no idea what the general just said, and grunts in confused irritation as the captain binds his wrists with vines, and strings his feet up quickly.
He looks at the captain a bit freaked out, finding something oddly familiar about him, but can't quite pinpoint what it is. Then feels embarrassed by the fact Venimbus is watching him get strung up like a fish.
Jujunwa steps forward and stands behind Lewa out of view, ordering the captain to remove Lewa's back armor, causing Lewa to flinch when the captain does. He creaks and stutters a bit more, trying to get a peek behind himself and figure out what's happening, just barely snagging a glimpse.
Jujunwa nods to the captain and reaches for a whip hanging on his belt.
Lewa goes wide eyed, panting a bit and struggling more, then pausing and squinting when he notices Venimbus come over to the general and whisper to him in Junti, “Wait, I've dealt with this one before... at the arena matches. Let me have some fun.” she says with a mischievous grin, glancing at Lewa who gets a sinking feeling and blushes red from her gaze.
Jujunwa smirks and nods in agreement, chuckling at Venimbus's antics. Little does Lewa realize she was stepping in to save his back and lessen his pain, while still causing him to feel horrendously humiliated.
Venimbus waves some other women over, who bring her rotten toxic fruit. Lewa lifts a brow, now even more confused. He assumes the fruit she grabs is normal, but has no knowledge that toxic fruit to beings who aren't Junti, or native to their land, stings if the juice is touched; and can cause a burning sensation much like poison ivy.
Venimbus takes the fruit and loads it into a type of sling shot, then smiles slightly and keeps back a sigh as she hits Lewa's back with sticky, rotten fruits.
Lewa squirms and tenses, letting out a shivered moan as the juice starts to sting and itch, causing him to wriggle and bounce about by the vine tied to his feet.
Laughter and snorting from some of the women and guards follow, and Venimbus slightly chuckles at Lewa's reaction, feeling a bit sorry, yet all at once amused.

When Venimbus is done, Lewa is let down and grabbed by two very large guards who hold his arms and lift him. Venimbus looks Lewa in the eyes and gives a warning, hoping he'll listen and understand.
Never jump the gates of the Junti people again if you wish to keep your smooth back.” she states sternly, pointing out she protected him this time.
Lewa only understands the basics of what she just said, but catches that it's a warning, and knows she's not fully pleased, causing him to hang his head once more.
Venimbus waves the guards away, telling them to bathe Lewa and get the juice off of him. They comply, and Lewa is dragged to the bathing fountains, grimacing and grumbling as he's forced under the fountain and scrubbed down, held by one guard while the other splashes him.
Lewa growls and scoffs, feeling miffed, embarrassed, and rejected; trying to ignore the last feeling.
Junti women stand off to the side and watch, tittering about the fact an air type is getting a bath by the muscle guards who stand by at all times to ensure the safety of the women and protect them from outside threats.
When all is done, the guards drag a flailing Lewa to the gates, and toss him out into the jungle beyond their borders, leaving him there soaked and dripping, feeling like a wet cat. He groans and stands up, brushing some leaves off and sighing, muttering to himself. 
LoL Chapter 7-Saving Marine <<previous chapter/next chapter>> LoL Chapter 9- Smug Bug

Sunday, September 18, 2016

LoL Chapter 7-Saving Marine

Episode 7- “Saving Marine”

In that moment, Tahu uses this time of distraction, heating up and causing the flooded hall to steam, clouding the guards vision. The two guards yell angrily and poke their swords around, trying to jab at the Toa.
Tahu and Ashton start to fight he guards, struggling to get them from the door which Lewa rushes to and yanks on, wrenching at the handles and puffing in irritation, “It's jam-locked!”.
Tahu looks to Ashton as he clangs swords with the guard, “Kid, heat up your feet!”
Ashton pauses as he swings his blades around at the other guard, panting, then realizes what Tahu is doing and nods, the two heating up their bodies and making the water near boiling hot temperatures, causing the guards to yell in pain and jump about from one foot to the other. Tahu gets near the one as they panic and manages to snatch the door keys from him, tossing them to Lewa who hurriedly unlocks them and the Toa flee from the scene, rushing through the doors as fast as they can.
Lewa raises his voice, “Marine?!” he shouts, calling out her name several times in hopes of finding her, but as they run an alarm goes off and more guards rush to where they are, flooding in from branching halls of the kingdom.
The Toa fight as many as they can, Ashton staying close to Tahu and following his example as best he can. The group starts getting cornered against the research chamber doors as guards surround them from all sides. During all this distraction and turmoil, Argus pulls a swift move and slinks past the guard with the keys like a fleeing worker, and swipes the door keys, rushing to the doors and unlocking them, yelling out, “Come on!”.
The Toa manage to knock out most the guards that pursue, and burst through the chamber doors in a panic.
Tahu drags a remaining guard along with them, anger boiling in his eyes as the guard struggles, then suddenly all freeze and look around in confusion. Before their very eyes is a large boiler room with a vast furnace, no sign of prisoners or missing workers to be found.
Argus frowns, his brows sinking down and his face filled with confusion. “The boiler room? I don't understand...this is just the room for heating the kingdom's water and bath houses..why would the kingdom workers be brought here?”
Ashton and Lewa both get a sinking feeling inside, but don't say what comes to mind.
Tahu growls, “I can think of a few reasons...” he says to Argus,while pinning the guard against the wall and threatening him. “The servants of this palace, where have they been taken? Why were they brought in here and why are they nowhere to be found?!” he puffs.
The guard puts his hands up, looking just as concerned and upset. “I... I don't know, I'm sorry..the queen forbid us from questioning her methods and rules, or we too would be cleansed from the kingdom and banished from our jobs.” he says strained.
Tahu squints, finding this suspicious, “And how do I know I can trust you're not lying?”
The guard take in an uneasy breath, “Listen... as far as I know I'm in trouble either way..I don't agree with the queen's new plans or whatever she's up to, I've been just as concerned for the people of this palace; and I fear that most of all our princess is in danger, and I refuse to harm her as the queen has ordered. I will help you find the workers, and save Marine...this will mean my job, but so be it.” he spouts, his words defiant to the queen.
Tahu sighs and releases his hold on the water guard, nodding. “If you're willing to, then help us find the workers... We came here to protect Marine as well; she asked us to help her. First question is where the workers are... if there still are any” he mutters, looking around.

Argus pauses, half in thought and fighting off a sinking feeling he refuses to believe could be true. “Wait...” he remembers, “This kingdom has secret doorways in some places could there be a possibility...”
Suddenly Argus's words are cut short by Ashton who finishes the statement, “That there's a secret door in this furnace room?” he says with a slight smirk as he pushes a panel open on the wall which appeared as scrap metal beams at first glance.
Lewa grins and claps quietly, and Tahu smiles, nodding at Ashton, “Good work kid...let's see where this goes...”
The water guard, Argus, Ashton, and Lewa all head in first, Tahu pauses behind and glances back at the furnace, wincing slightly and going over to take a small ash sample from the floor, then following behind the rest as the secret door closes and they walk down a dimly lit hallway. As they near closer to the end they hear pained moaning, the group flinching at the sound.

As they step out from behind another secret door, they gape to find secret experiment rooms connected onto a very large laboratory.
Lewa goes wide eyed and looks around, “What in Mata Nui is this place? And how will we way-find anyone here?”
Ashton gulps, looking around uneasily and scooting closer towards the door, getting snapped at by Tahu who shoots him a look that says 'don't even think about leaving us'.
Argus pauses and listens close to the acoustics of the lab, his eyes widening as he hears another moan. “This way... come this way.!” he whispers in a shocked hope, scurrying towards the sound quietly, the Toa and guard close behind, wondering what got him all jumpy.
As they near the place Argus heads, all of them flinch and gasp to find cages lined up against the wall, filled with the missing workers who beg and plead, putting their hands out to them and hoping to be released.
Lewa and Ashton glance around for keys, and their faces turn even sadder at the sight of a few poor souls strapped to operating tables, the ones who made the moaning sound.
Mata Nui... the water queen is most evil-bad” Lewa states sorrowfully, snatching keys and handing a set to Ashton, “Come on, let's quick-move and get these people out of here”.
Tahu looks around and conjures up a plan as his face twists with disgust and pity at the scene. “Ashton... you, Argus, and the water guard... whose name I missed, get these people out of here and to safety. Get them as far from this kingdom as you can. Me and Lewa will go to find Marine, and the queen... hopefully to end this MADNESS...” he states bitterly.
Ashton nods and looks to the guard and Argus who unlock the last of the cages and start to lead the people out of the chambers and back through the secret hallway towards freedom, ready to fight if needed, and use other back doors.
Lewa watches the others go, then looks at the remaining prisoners strapped to the operating tables. He sighs and slowly steps towards them, suddenly to find Tahu's hand on his shoulder.
No, Lewa...I know it's hard, but we can't do anything for them; you know that. They need medical attention from good doctors, which we aren't. In the old days I would have shrugged that thought off, but we've all had to learn our lesson” Tahu states sadly.
Lewa pauses and looks down sadly, nodding in agreement and turning to Tahu. “Then lets fast-find Marine and set things good-right...That we can do.”
Tahu nods and finds another doorway, heading through it. “Come on Lewa, Argus showed me the map; says the chambers are even deeper. Let's see if Marine is around here somewhere.”
Meanwhile in the queen's chambers, the queen is given word by a guard reporting that he has spotted escaping prisoners being led by a rebel water guard, Argus the Agori servant, and some young fire Toa he's never seen before.
The queen laughs, “So, a lone servant, rebel water guard, and young fire spirit are out to free those who are to be cleansed? How pathetic. Take your men out and retrieve them, bring them back for me to deal with.” she smiles evilly.
The guard nods, “Yes my queen....The alarms in research chambers are still going off, do you wish for some of my men to investigate?”
The queen shakes her head. “No, I will check the chambers myself, now go”. At that the guard bows and is off, already gathering his men and readying to retrieve the rebels and prisoners.
The queen stands and vanishes through a secret panel in the wall which leads to the chambers, her knowledge of where the two Nuva are is quite clear, for she had her ways of knowing what's been going on in the kingdom, down to the base details that Marine was behind all of it.

As Tahu and Lewa travel deeper into the chambers, they hear a noise and flinch, drawing their weapons and preparing to fight. Both are tense and silent, suddenly to yelp, then sigh in relief when they bump into a startled Marine.
Lewa grins, “Marine... thank Mata Nui. We heard you loud-scream... are you okay?”
Marine sighs, “I... yes, I'm okay, but please, come with me; there are more prisoners.” she states with pleading.
Tahu lifts his brows, “More prisoners? We just freed so many...Your mother must be out of her mind!” he states concerned and angry.
Marine nods, “Yes yes, just please follow me...I know where the others are.”
Tahu and Lewa nod and follow her, not knowing they were being led into trouble.

Marine reaches a door and presses on a wall panel which makes the door open. “They're in here.” she says, smiling evilly as they pass through.
As Tahu and Lewa step into the room, they're at first confused, then notice two cells side by side with plasma shielded openings. In one the real queen stands, in the other the true Marine stands. The true Marine goes wide eyed and screams out, “It's a trap!”, but the Toa are too late. Tahu and Lewa get pushed into the cells by the faux Marine; Tahu shoved in the real queens cell, and Lewa into Marine's.
Before they can escape, the plasma shields are once more activated, and the imposter laughs menacingly.
Marine looks down, “I'm sorry Lewa...this is my fault” she whispers, blaming herself.
Lewa shakes his head, “Don't hard-blame yourself Marine... it's not your fault at all... But wait, if you're in here, then who is...?” he pauses and looks at the imposter who smiles with a wicked face of seduction, now appearing as the queen once more.
Lewa gapes and cocks his head confused.
Tahu grits his teeth and looks at the real queen, then back at the imposter.
The imposter chuckles, “Toa, and Glatorian rulers, so glad to have you in one place.” she hisses. “You've made it this far, and seeing you won't be escaping, I suppose I can tell you a little story. You won't live to tell the tale, since I plan to experiment on you once I'm done with matters upstairs, but it will give you something to dwell on while you're still alive.”
Queen Nilla, Marine, and the Toa stand there bitterly, eyes fixed on the faux queen, ears open.
The faux queen continues, “Once upon a time, I wanted a kingdom for myself, being that I am a queen of darkness, in need of a palace to rule. No one would willingly give me one, so I commenced a plan to take this one. It was really quite simple, all of it made possible with the use of a morphing stone. A real charm it has been, allowing me to appear and sound like whoever I please, much like the Kanohi Mahiki, only, friendly for beings not of Toa blood. I captured the true Nilla Aquaria and locked her in her own Rahi research chambers, then took her place as the new queen. Ruling seemed fine, I've had all the power and freedom I need to do as I please. On my spare time I love experimenting and inventing new creations, and what better way to do that then to have a kingdom with servants. The ones that didn't make me happy were brought down here. My plans, to change the servants which annoyed me and make them loyal slaves who obey my every command. Granted I knew some would resist and likely never break, others would die from testing, all of which would be burnt in the boiler. I had to cover up my activities somehow though, so I made a fake ritual called 'The Cleansing' as a cover.”
Tahu's anger boils and his hands start to turn white with heat, but no words escape his lips as he stares at the imposter with eyes of rage.
She glances at him and chuckles, “Oh and, if you honestly thought that three amateurs could free all my slaves, you're mistaken. The guards of this kingdom fetch them as we speak. I best go and see their progress.” she hisses, grinning with wicked contentment, heading out of the chamber.
Tahu grits his teeth and yells, punching the wall multiple times, panting heatedly and trying to calm.

Lewa hangs his head in disgust at the imposter's words, and Marine gulps, “Lewa....”? Lewa keeps his gaze down for a moment, thinking.
Tahu finally collects his temper and grumbles, “Looks like we're stuck in here, unless there's a way to melt my way out. There has to be some way out of this place.”
Queen Nilla glances at him, her eyebrows raised a bit, “At least the company I'm stuck with is good looking.” she chuckles, slightly flirting.
Tahu lifts a brow and looks at her a bit puzzled, unsure of how to react.
In the other cell Marine shouts out in a playful scoff, “Mother!” chuckling at Nilla's words to Tahu. Nilla shrugs, “Well it's true...Anyway, I've looked around these walls and there is no way out; they were built to house the strongest of rahi. The only way to open and close these prisons is by pressing the panel on the wall out there.” she points.
Tahu grumbles and rubs his chin, suddenly to be broken from thought by Lewa, who looks up and clicks his fingers. “Wait, that's it! I might be able to use a tiny-small cyclone to hover-lift a lone object and hard-bonk it against the panel...”
Tahu pauses, “That...just might work, I'm surprised you thought of something before me. But, I don't see any lone objects you can lift, do you?”
Marine points, “Over there, it's an old wood block which fell from the wall. Maybe you could use that?”
Lewa pauses, then concentrates, creating a cyclone just outside the shield, and sending it around the room, watching it pick up dust and make a few chairs shake, till finally it snags the wood block. He concentrates more and aims at the wall panel, “ to hard-bonk it” he grumbles. Suddenly he sends it forcefully at the panel and the wood block breaks it, cracking the panel open and making it spark. A red flashing light goes off, followed by an alarm as the shields deactivate.
Marine jumps a few times, “You did it!” she squeaks happily, running from the cell and hugging her mom who dashes out with Tahu following behind, looking around tense.

Lewa smiles and glances around worried, also tense at the alarms.
Nilla looks up, “Come, we must hurry from these chambers, follow me through the secret passage ways which I'm sure I know better than that FILTHY imposter. Let us make it upstairs to save your friends and my servants. I will make sure to reveal the traitor who sits in MY throne!” she growls, clearly unhappy as she pulls a panel on the wall open, signaling for them to follow.
The Toa and Marine follow Nilla through many winding passageways till finally they reach the main halls and hear distant commotion of servants fighting guards. Nilla gasps and looks to Tahu. “Listen to me, I'm going to tell my men to stop all this; while I do, go and find the one imposing me, and keep her distracted till I can get there with my men to arrest her.”
Tahu nods, though he feels a bit off. “Come on Lewa, let's find that witch.” he spits.
Lewa nods and looks to Marine. “You should quick-go for safety reasons, things may get most-dangerous.”
Marine shakes her head, “I am partial ruler of this land, I will not back down on putting things back to order, but I thank you for your concern. I'll check the main royal chambers to make your search faster.” she states gently, but firmly.
Lewa nods, knowing she's right, and leaving her to go her ways while he ventures with Tahu, who suspects the imposter is also somewhere in the main royal chambers.

Meanwhile, Tahu and Lewa had no knowledge that Ashton had fallen through a secret panel in the wall during the battle against kingdom guards, and slipped down a tunnel right before slamming face first to the main throne room's stone floor with a thud and a groan.
Marine ventured that way, sneaking into the main throne room and spotting Ashton. She squints and slinks over, gently jiggling his shoulder. “Ashton, get up, quickly...your friends are helping me search for the faux queen. My real mother is calling off the guards right now, but the imposter is still here somewhere.” she says in a sharp, jumpy whisper.
Ashton lifts his head up and moans, “Marine? That you? We thought you were hurt...” he groans, standing up and shaking off the ache of his fall. “So...the imposter looks like the queen, but isn't?”
Marine nods, “You can tell them apart because one has a necklace on, the other doesn't. The imposter wears a morphing stone.”
Ashton lifts a brow, “Morphing stone?....I'm not even gonna ask.”
Marine looks around, “Anyway, be careful...I'll look this way, you look that way, and lets meet back here.”
Ashton sighs and nods, feeling sore still, but pushing himself to do his job. As he searches around the corner, Marine yelps, making him flinch and run back to the main throne room immediately. There before him he finds Marine whose hit across the face so hard she stumbles to the floor.
The imposter cowers over her in anger. “You little brat! Didn't I specify to your mother that if you escaped again the experiments I plan to do will be longer and more painful?!”
Marine holds her face and pushes to draw her senses together so she can fight, suddenly to find Ashton standing in front of her with his weapon drawn. “You leave her alone!” he growls. In that moment something inside of him feels different, though he didn't at first want to be there, he now had all desire to protect Marine, seeing it's what he would do for the woman he loved, and realizing that care should extend to many, not just those who relate to him personally. He stares into the eyes of the imposter, teeth gritted, heart rate thudding.
The faux queen laughs, “Pathetic boy, you really think you stand a chance against the queen of shadow?” she hisses, confident and menacing. With a wave of her hand shadows close all doors to the chamber, and she draws her weapon; a large, black tainted blade inscribed with odd glowing red symbols along its side. “Come on then, show me all you have within, and prove yourself average at least.” she says in a mocking tone.
Ashton grips his blade tighter and stays steady, preparing to fight. The faux queen comes over and swings down on him; he barely blocks, and gasps at her speed, noticing shadow energy emits off her blade and nears dangerously close to him.
The faux queen keeps a straight face, colder than any ice type as she readies to make another nasty blow. The two clink swords again and Ashton tenses, heating up a bit and shaking slightly.
Aw, you're already shaking, tx tx, I knew you would be easy.” the faux queen chuckles.
Ashton puffs, “Cool it madam darkness, I'm just getting warmed up.” he says confidently, but half unbelieving he can win this.
The faux queen rolls her eyes and sends a burst of shadow at him, making him groan in slight pain. Marine finally gains her senses and screams in worry, then before she can be caught, runs through a secret panel in the wall and seeks out Tahu and Lewa, running into them as she flees from the battle Ashton barely withstands.
Marine pants and looks at the two. Tahu lifts a brow and Lewa looks at her concerned. “Marine, what's wrong, did you way-find the imposter?”
Marine nods, trying not to cry. “Hurry, Ashton is locked in combat with her in the main throne room, I know a secret way in!” she says panicked.
Tahu and Lewa look at each other with eyes that say 'Oh no'. They quickly follow Marine who opens the panel to the room and they rush in to see the terrifying scene of fire and shadow flashing off clashing blades.
Tahu looks at Marine, “Go find your mother and brings the guards here, we'll fend her off till you come!”
Marine nods and dashes off in search of her mother and the palace army.

Tahu and Lewa run forward and blast the shadow queen with fire and wind. She looks around and growls, “How did you all escape?!”
Lewa locks blades with her, “Simple-easy...we're Toa” he says with a smug smile.
Ashton pants and sees Tahu standing by his side. He smiles and sighs, “I can't believe I'm saying this, but it's good to see you.”
Tahu nods, “I'm surprised you held up to shadow, tough stuff to deal with.” he mutters.
Ashton nods, “So...what do we do?”
Tahu looks around, “We fight her till Marine and the kingdom guards come to arrest the traitor and do as they wish. Come one kid, stay close and concentrate your fire power”.
Ashton stays beside Tahu and they team up with Lewa, each of them clashing swords with the shadow queen and trying to surround her, but just when they think they have her, she lets off a burst of shadow that sends them back, causing them to hit the walls with a few pained grunts.
Lewa groans as he lands on his face to the floor, “That could have gone great-better I think...”
Tahu and Ashton stand up sorely and grimace as the shadow queen looks around at each of them with an evil smile. “Did you really think I was that weak? This is all a game to me, Toa.. one which must end, for you that is.” she chuckles.
Tahu takes in a heated breath, “We don't have time for your games, and we will stop you!” he growls angrily.
Lewa sighs and gets ready for a bit more fighting, then flips into the scene they fight with her, every elemental blast of theirs blocked by her shadows, much to their shock.
Ashton starts to get tired, feeling his energies drain, and tries to keep concentration, not realizing how far he staggers from Tahu.
The shadow queen smiles, seeing the Toa weaken after all their sword fighting, elemental blasts, and tricky avoidance maneuvers.
Tahu pants and lifts his blade again, surprised at how strong his foe is, but not admitting it, and striving to fight her more, muttering under his breath, “Come on Marine, anytime now..”
The shadow queen smirks and sees Ashton is the weakest of the three, also the youngest, and her smirk suddenly twists into a wicked grin, her cruelty kicking in. “I did say that this was all a game to me. The shadows are always in need of new energies, especially from the weakened. Now lets see, who in this game will live? And which pawn will fall to the queen on the chessboard.” she chuckles, suddenly blasting shadows around Ashton, blinding him for a moment as she moves behind him and grabs his shoulder, digging her claws into his shoulder and making him scream.
Tahu and Lewa both tense and Tahu flames his swords, “Ashton!” he yells, trying to figure out how to save him.
Lewa feels enraged, “Let him go you queen benya!” he yells, blasting a cyclone at her in hopes to topple her, but to no avail.
The shadow queen stands her ground, still smiling evilly as Ashton tenses and cries in pain from her grip. “Aw, so pitiful, so weak...allow me to bring that feeling to an end.” She brings out her blade and presses the point to his lower back, then looks at the other two Toa and grins, “I did warn you...and let this be a warning that I am never hesitant to show my power, even to youth.” she chuckles, suddenly thrusting her blade through his back, causing Ashton to tense and cough blood, letting off a pained moan as he falls to his knees and holds his wound.
Tahu and Lewa both scream the same thing, “NO, ASHTON!!” Tahu grips his blades and looks at the shadow queen, his eyes saying he wants blood. He spits, “If it's war you want, it's war you'll get!!” he says while holding his blade out and looking at Lewa, nodding to him and signaling to combine powers. The two cross their blades and blast at her with a wave of combined elemental energy, temporarily weakening her and causing her to stumble about.

During her distraction and weakened state, the guards and Queen Nilla bang on the doors. Lewa rushes over to them and opens them quickly, letting in the palace army.
Queen Nilla points at the shadow queen. “There she is. Seize her!” she demands, bitterly.
The shadow queen regains her strength and sees she's surrounded, then with a loud, echoing screech, she slams her fist to the floor, her final words, “I will be a bane to all your lives”! Suddenly she vanishes in a cloud of shadow, nowhere to be seen.
The guards pause and look around confused, glancing at Nilla for orders. She sighs and flops her hands.
Tahu rushes over next to Ashton, and Lewa soon kneels by his side. “Is he heaven-flown, brother?”, Lewa asks sadly.
Tahu shakes his head, “No..he's still breathing...Someone help, Ashton's been stabbed!”
Queen Nilla gives another quick order and gasps from the news. “Bring my best my medics, get this brave young Toa to the medic halls at once, and restore this kingdom to proper order.”
Royal medics are there very soon, and they take Ashton to recovery halls where they do what they can for him. Meanwhile in the rest of the kingdom, servants are brought back to health, including those experimented on. The queen is relieved to find that no one faced the boiler, and all servants were counted and alive. All is made right again.

Back in the royal recovery rooms, Ashton lay on a beautiful bed with silk pillows and decorated blankets. All around him there are pillars and sparkling beads, and he smiles weakly as he feels his heart ever so slightly pump.
Lewa and Tahu stand by his side. Tahu speaks with the medics, and is given bad news; the queen is told of Ashton's condition as well.
Tahu whispers to Lewa and the two do their best to hide their sorrow. Tahu puts a hand on Ashton's shoulder and smiles. “Ashton, despite being so young and sometimes reckless, you have proven yourself a worthy Toa. I'm proud to see you've learned the ways of a Toa faster than I did. What took me years took you a day. And I want you to know that you did what every Toa is supposed to do; you protected someone with your life, even though you barely knew them; and that makes me proud to know I fought by your side.” he said genuinely, trying not to sound upset.
Ashton smiles faintly and offers a fist, which Tahu bumps. Lewa inches in and does his best to smile, then bumps Ashton's fist too. “Hey Ash-breath...You did a wonderful-great job, I too consider you a brother, and feel similarly as Tahu...” he nods.
Ashton nods and smirks, “Good working with you too, air head” he chuckles lightly.
Marine and Nilla come to see Ashton, walking up slowly, the queen nodding to Tahu. Marine sets flowers on the table, and kisses Ashton's cheek. “Thank you for protecting me, Toa Ashton.”
Ashton blushes slightly and nods slowly, tensing a bit when the queen steps forward and looks into his eyes. “Young man, and brave Toa, my people, my daughter, and myself owe you our gratitude. You fought valiantly and bravely in protecting Marine, and for that I bring a symbol of gratitude and thanks.” She opens a box to reveal a gold medallion stamped with an elite guard symbol. “This medal of honor is for you, as a sign that you have proven yourself worthy to protect, and even stand amongst the elite guards of my palace. You are always welcome here among my people.”
Ashton takes the metal and looks at it in shock, flustered and honored, not able to say anything and weakly sputtering.
Queen Nilla nods. “It's all right, your eyes say what you wish to now” she nods, moving away and bowing slightly at the Toa before departing with Marine who starts to look upset as they leave the recovery chambers.
Ashton touches the metal, his color becoming paler, and he looks to Tahu and hands him the medallion. “Tahu...could you do me a favor...? And....t...take this to Fiamma...Tell her...I'm sorry..a..and that I...thought of her, and she helped me realize what being a Toa really means...” he puffs tiredly, faintly half smiling and trembling a bit.

Tahu nods sadly and takes it, looking at Lewa then getting an idea. “Lewa, stay here with him, I'll be right back,” he says while dashing over to the medics who had an advanced portal door that could get you anywhere in a moments notice. He asks to be sent to Fiamma's home, and they agree, tapping in the coordinates.
Lewa remains with Ashton, holding his hand and keeping him company. Meanwhile Tahu dashes through the portal and goes up to Fiamma's door, knocking briskly.
Fiamma answers much to Tahu's relief, and he pauses. “Fiamma...I'm sorry that this is so sudden. Ashton wanted me to give you this.” he says while showing her the medallion. “He's a hero, and laid his life on the line to protect Marine and all the water kingdom from a shadow queen. He wants you to know that he thought of you during his battle, and that you helped him see what the meaning of Toa really means.” He looks down and says quietly, “He...doesn't have much time..But you can see him.” he nods, looking at her sadly, and nodding at the open portal door.

Fiamma nods, not at all hesitant, and she walks through the portal with Tahu, holding the medallion and looking around surprised as she observes the palace's beauty.
Tahu brings her over next to Ashton, whose breathing weakens, and he looks at Fiamma, using all his strength to smile.
Fiamma smiles back sadly, her eyes watering as she sees his color is so deathly pale. She takes his hand and wipes away a tear, stroking his face and placing the metal to his chest. She leans in and whispers to him, “You have my forgiveness, and my love”.
Ashton smiles and cries slightly, gripping her hand. Fiamma strokes his head sadly, then leans forward and gives him a final kiss, his strength fading from him in that moment as she does. When she pulls away, his grip loosens, and he takes in his final breath, before his heart light stops, and his eyes go dark.
Fiamma hangs her head, tears starting to drip and she turns her face. “Take me home...” she mutters, fighting away a sob.
Tahu nods and looks at Lewa whose normally carefree spirit suddenly drops to glum and depressed, and he stands there sighing and covering Ashton with the blankets.
Tahu forces himself to stay strong, and brings Fiamma home, secretly letting his own tears fall in the side room to recovery halls when he returns.

Later that day... Queen Nilla holds a ceremony, all her kingdom gathers in the main palace ceremony room. Ashton was placed in a hansom coffin after being cleaned up. Every detail of his box was fire themed, inlaid with gold and ruby hints, an extra thank you from the queen.
Nilla holds out two more medallions and looks at Tahu and Lewa who stand before her. She smiles and takes in a breath, “Kneel please..” The Toa do as asked. Nilla slips the one medallion on Lewa's neck. “For your bravery and swiftness, and your trust in others, I proclaim you a welcome guard of the air who may roam my palace freely as the wind does.”
Lewa blushes slightly and nods in thank you, fighting the urge to jump up and down with contentment. Nilla smiles, knowing he's tempted to.
And for you” she continues, putting the other medallion on Tahu, “I give the medallion of strength, strong leadership, and devotion to your men. You are welcome as an elite guard in my palace, and royal warrior to this land.” she nods, winking at him slightly. Tahu clears his throat and grins, nodding in thanks and trying not to feel awkward.
Nilla nods and lets them rise, then looks at those assembled and gives her final speech. “These fine Toa, these men of valor, are to be treated with respect, even in decease” she says while nodding at Ashton's coffin. Toa Tahu Nuva, and Toa Lewa Nuva are always welcome here. We will respect the most valiant fighter from today, known as Toa Ashton, a brave, young fire type who came here and protected your princess. Though I wish I could let him rest in the royal gardens amongst other great men who have fallen, it would only be right to let him rest in his homeland where all fire types are at ease. And so, we are subject to wait three days, and then we will have an honorable ceremony in his land, and bury him there, with a few respectful traditions of our own in thanks.
Furthermore, I bring good news. Each of the servants who were brought away by the shadow queen are now back to health and recovering wonderfully. Not a single servant of this palace fell the imposter's full plan, thank Mata Nui. An ash sample taken by Toa Tahu has proven that our kingdom has not been defiled with such atrocities the shadow queen wished to prevail, and our furnaces are being cleaned just in case. Your princess is safe, and all have been restored, today we can both rejoice, and mourn.”
All present hold their breath for a moment, then clap, joyful from the good news.

Queen Nilla nods and steps away, letting the Toa slowly walk out. As they do, Marine comes running up to them and gives them both a hug, kissing each on the cheek. “Thank you again Toa Lewa. Mata Nui must have brought you to the jungle market knowing your destiny and mine dependent on it. Best of luck to you both.” she bows.
Lewa smiles and chuckles, “Not a problem.” he grins, walking out with Tahu who squints and shakes his head, laughing slightly. “It seems the ladies like you, Lewa. I noticed several eyeballing. Good thing we got out of there in time.” he jokes.
Lewa blushes and gets a bit flustered, sputtering and making a quick come back, “Oh yeah...well, I noticed the queen seems to wink-flirt to fire-spitters such as yourself.” he laughs, winking and elbowing him playfully.
Tahu rolls his eyes and shakes his head. “ I don't care how rich she is; not my type.” he states half truthfully, but thinking of Gali in that moment.
Lewa snorts a laugh. “Don't I know it. I would much rather have the prettiest green maiden-fair of the jungle, not a dweller of wetness.” he sighs, getting dreamy eyed. “In fact, there's this Junti woman, beautiful-pretty and just right in height named Venimbus. Ah such a sight to behold..” he states with a stupid, dreamy grin, accidentally slipping about his secret interest.
Tahu looks at Lewa like he's crazy, jumping slightly. “Lewa..did you just say Junti woman? Are you crazy? You know how dangerous they can be, and yet you speak of them like they're a gift from Mata Nui...”
Lewa sighs and keeps his dreamy face, “Oh but they are....even if they're a little feisty. I joy-like that in a lady.” he grins, not really listening to Tahu.
Tahu facepalms. “Lewa, are you even listening? Going after a Junti is dangerous, you'll regret it...don't do it. If something happens, I'll be there to say I told you so.” he grumbles.
Lewa flops his hands. “Eh, you worry too much brother, I'll be great-fine, might even visit her soon.” he smiles, already thinking of how to get near her and continuing his walk around the palace gardens.

Later Tahu and Lewa depart from the water region and head home, knowing that Ashton will be buried in three days, and they can rest for just awhile.