Realm of Air
He stops. Po-Wahi is in the far north of the island, whereas Le-Wahi is in the far south. How did he get all the way from there to here without passing through the frigid tundra of Ko-Wahi? Did he make a wrong turn somewhere?
Takua sighs. He will have to backtrack, it seems, but since he’s here already, he decides to press on to Le-Koro.
Kewa Bird Riding
As the traveler proceeds through the sprawling forestry, he hears some noises from up the path. Moving quickly, he is surprised to see a lone Le-Matoran pacing alone on the forest floor, looking up in frustration at the sky. His green armor is splattered with mud, as if he has fallen from above.
“They just laugh and call me names, they won’t let me join in any Kewa Bird games!” he moans. “Every time I try to play with the others, I get knocked off the ledge! There must be some way to get my own Kewa Bird!”
Takua looks up. Green and yellow movement flashes among the treetops as birds weave in and out of branches at high velocity.
Following his gaze, the Le-Matoran explains that the Matoran are Kewa Bird Riding, a game where players try to knock others off their birds without getting knocked off themselves.
The Le-Matoran turns back to Takua, and his eyes fall on the Volo Lutu Launcher hanging on the traveler’s form. Thoughtfully, he muses, “I’ve heard that skill with the Volo Lutu Launcher will help you get-latch a Kewa Bird.”
The Matoran bets Takua that if he can wrangle a Kewa and win at a game of Kewa Bird Riding, he will guide Takua into the hidden village of Le-Koro. Behind him is a staircase leading up a large, hollow tree to a platform overhead. As he watches, Le-Matoran on Kewa periodically swoop down within range of it. Takua climbs onto the trunk and waits. And as one is swooping down, he moves to the center, prepares the Vuata Maca Launcher and--
--the Kewa barrels into him, throwing him over the ledge.
With a grunt, Takua lands in the mud beside the Le-Matoran. The jungle native helps him to his feet, and Takua hurries up the staircase again.
The traveler tries a few more times, each with the same result. Now he is the one covered in mud and bruises, even as the Le-Matoran’s spirits have lifted with the entertainment. Climbing one more time onto the landing platform, he happens to spot a large obsidian pillar tucked to the side, out of view of the Kewa landing and taking off. Hiding in its long shadow, he waits.
He is not disappointed. Before long, another Kewa swoops down and lands, and its player doesn’t notice him.
Takua immediately fires his Vuata Maca Launcher at the bird, and it sucks him at it. The sudden attack knocks the Le-Matoran player off the bird, and Takua climbs on. And as the Ta-Koro villager takes off, the Le-Matoran player concedes his position graciously.
It is mayhem in the skies above. Le-Matoran bird riders swoop and weave, hurling bamboo discs at each other. For Takua, it is no small feat to simply cling to his Kewa, but he quickly learns that while the domesticated bird is easy enough to direct, it just as easily knows its way around the skies. Letting it do much of the flying, he focuses on hurling his disc.
Like a madman, Takua hurls projectiles and swoops close to the other riders, whooping and shouting. The Ta-Koro villager has never been in flight before, but he can barely afford to process it now. His only goal is winning the bet and gaining access to the hidden village. One by one the Le-Matoran are thrown off, skillfully falling through the branches and landing safely below.
It isn’t until he hears shouting from the ground that his concentration is broken. As he looks around, he abruptly realizes that all of the riders have fallen from the air. A wave of relief and thrill washes over him… until he remembers he still has to get down.
With the help of some Le-Matoran bird wranglers, Takua and his Kewa are guided safely into some of the tallest trees where, amid the branches and the thick leaves, Takua is shocked to find a second landing platform. There the Le-Matoran he met on the ground is waiting for him. The villager offers to go riding again, but Takua declines--once was quite nerve-wracking enough.
At the other side of the platform is an elevator to the village above. Directly in front of it, one of the wranglers is eyeing him. As Takua comes close, he stops him. “Your skill at riding the Kewa Bird is impressive!” he remarks coolly. “I must ask for your help. Matau, the Turaga of our village, has been kidnapped. Only Matau knows the secrets of the Toa Lewa Stone! You must rescue him if you can…”
Takua had temporarily forgotten why he had been seeking the village in the first place, but it comes back all at once. He immediately agrees.
The traveler takes the elevator to the village where he finds many more Le-Matoran milling about. All seem to be trying to keep the conversation light during the dire circumstances.
“Our village is supposed to be hidden. How did you find it?”
“I’d much rather live in an underground village like Onu-Koro!”
“I like it up here in the trees. It’s very peaceful.”
As he walks, Takua spies a long white staff positioned near the village Amaja Circle recognizable as the Ice Pick of Turaga Nuju. As he asks some villagers where it came from and how it got there, most villagers don’t seem to know.
“Matau and Vakama are said to be good friends,” one offers. But that does not explain Nuju’s staff.
Seeing the Ice Pick, another pipes up, “Matau has lost his Kau Kau Staff. Have you seen it?”
Takua explains that he has not. A third villager asks, “Have you tried your hand at Kewa Bird riding yet?” When Takua asks what it has to do with the staffs of the Turaga, he shrugs. “Matau used to be a master Kewa Bird rider!”
“If you win all the village games, you get the Copper Mask!” someone else pipes up.
It is shocking that the Le-Matoran population can put on such a good face in such time of trouble, and the traveler realizes that it is their way of keeping preoccupied. None of the Turaga’s attendants are around it seems, but Takua soon spots the Treekeeper fretting anxiously to the side. Spotting the traveler approaching, he gestures for him to come over. Speaking in hushed tones, he addresses the Ta-Koronan.
“We have a major problem here in Le-Koro. Makuta has ruined our Vuata Maca Tree, we’re not sure how. In order to restore this tree to health, you must find the two Vuata Maca Tree crystals for it. After you find them, return them to me. We know you can help us, Takua.”
By now, Takua knows the drill. Leaving the Treekeeper, he spies a few passages out of the village. A bridge leads away to the northeast, although it is blocked by a guard. To the east is an elevator leading to another platform, although the path it leads to descends deep into the shadowy jungle. Finally, one more elevator rises and falls on the southernmost end of the village.
So to the south he goes.
As he walks, Takua fiddles some more with the Ice Pick. To his surprise, a bit of experimentation shows that it creates small, temporary pillars of ice. In fact, the tool works nicely in conjunction with the Volo Lutu, giving him an at-will structure to latch onto for travel.
He doesn’t have long to play with it, however. Like the previous regions, the new land brings new threats.
The platforms through the trees that he navigates along are crawling with the Rahi of the jungle. On top of the Electric Spiders that come in droves, Takua also finds himself evading Electric Bugs whose antennae bounce with lightning. Hoto bugs also line the path, emitting sweltering heat. The goat-like Maha jump along the platforms and jungle floor, threatening to ram him with their horns. Finally, being so high in the air, Takua is also the target of wild Kewa birds. It’s only his fast reflexes and disc-wielding that prevents him from succumbing to the onslaught, and often when he knocks their masks off or dazes them, he is free to pass.[note 2]
To his surprise, the path takes him northward before branching in two directions. The traveler follows the one pointed to the southwest and soon arrives at the hiding place of the first Vuata Maca crystals.
Backtracking, he follows the northeastern path which carries him high into the trees.
Takua emerges dizzyingly high in the canopy -- so high, in fact, that he spots a giant Taku nest. Yet his trip here has not been in vain, for he soon spies the other Vuata Maca crystal. Pleased with the ease with which he was progressing, he starts back down the path.
With two of his queries already found, and one of his objectives already completed, things are looking very promising. Yet the most important one remains, and he has found no clues as to the Turaga’s whereabouts.
Takua takes two more steps before his feet leave the ground. Talons that gripped him barely afforded much maneuverability, but from their crimson hue, the distinctive curved beak, and the cries above, he knows at once what now carried him:
A large Kewa vulture.
As Takua shouts, helpless, he is flown high into the air. And as he watches in horror, the Kewa flew to its nest in a tall tree, where young duck-like birds known as Taku rest, living in biological mutualism with the Kewa. Their hungry mouths gape, awaiting the next course in their meal.
Has he come all this way to be dinner?
No, he decides. With a roar, he fights and thrashes with all his strength, swinging the sharp Ice Pick above him. Startled, the Kewa loosens her grip, then fumbles and drops the Matoran.
As Takua plunges, he could swear he hears a gasp coming from inside the nest. But he cannot see anything except a flash of green that disappears among the young Taku in the nest before he plummets through the branches and bushes. Takua falls sloppily, landing hard. As he looks up woozily, he sees the Kewa circling in search of more food.
That bright green… Could it have something to do with the Turaga?
He hasn’t observed Matau in the nest, that is for sure. But the flash has been a distinctly recognizable Le-Matoran hue. Perhaps it is the Toa Stone embedded in the nest?
There is only one way to find out. And as Takua’s eyes fall on a pile of boulders and some glossy red fruit, a plan forms in his head. The Kewa appears to be scouring the same area for food, and if he can trick the bird into taking the stone…
With a grunt, he hoists the boulder above his shoulders. The Kewa above stops circling and hovers. There is movement below, and movement means prey. Prey mean food. And stone creatures are common enough.
She swoops down. Her talons scrape it, looking for purchase. Finding it, she strains and soars into the air, gliding over to the nest and depositing the food into the nest. Without wasting any time, she flies over and did the same thing with other moving boulders she sees. Then she spies a villager jumping up and down and waving. Realizing this should be the last food the Kewa need for a while, she descends and carries him into the air, into the nest.
Takua lands with a thud and a grunt. To his relief, the young Taku all lie dazed -- the heavy boulders have done their work. At once, he sets about looking for the green object he has seen in his flight.
Then the pile of muck and food stirs. And Takua’s heart sinks. The walls of the nest are so high that if one of the Taku is still awake and attempts to devour him now, there will be no escape. And the Taku are bound to be angry…
“Turaga Matau!” Takua exclaims. “There you are!”
Matau dusts the debris and dirt from the nest off. “Oh, Takua -- you saved me! Time to go back to the village.”
The Toa Lewa Stone
Once back in Le-Koro, the Turaga retrieves a large green staff from his hut.
“Once again you have proven that a small stature does not prevent great deeds!” he says, handing it to the traveler. “As a reward for rescuing me, here is Matau’s Kau Kau Staff. With it you can clear trees from your path. Use it wisely! Only the foolish use the Kau Kau Staff without good purpose. Once you find the Toa Lewa Stone, you must go to the ice lands to the northeast. I’ve heard that a strange tree nearby may provide the answer to the location of the Toa Lewa Stone. Search wisely, and may Lewa look out for you!”
Takua next heads over to the nearby Treekeeper. It is a familiar routine by now.
“Excellent work! You’ve recovered the first half of the Vuata Maca Tree crystal. There is still one more you must find.”
The presentation of the second crystal cuts him off before he can finish his thought. The Treekeeper interrupts himself excitedly, adding the crystals to the tree and producing an Amana Volo Sphere.
“Lewa be praised! Thanks for getting those Vuata Maca Tree crystals, Takua.”
Nearby, one of the Le-Matoran nods sagely.
“The Vuata Maca Fruit on every level will help you recharge your energy.”
When Takua asks this Le-Matoran whether he has seen anything that could direct him to the Toa Lewa Stone, the Matoran thinks for a moment, then shrugs.
“There is a mechanical tree nearby that is missing its gears.”
Takua asks where the tree is, but the Matoran suggests he consult one of the Turaga’s advisers, saying, “Kongu has a fantastic memory. He remembers almost everything that he is told!”
Kongu is nowhere to be seen, so Takua instead heads for the northeastern path. This route is still blocked, however, so he takes the westernmost elevator down.
Being armed with the helpful tips, Takua knows what he was looking for when he finds it: a set of slots for four mechanical gears integrated into the side of a tree trunk.
Takua backtracks and begins searching for clues. His first find doesn’t help with the tree, but it is exceedingly useful. Tucked on a platform some distance away, Takua finds a bamboo disc, overgrown with vines and leaves. Assuming that this disc, too, has been abandoned, Takua retrieves it.
Then he finds something even more peculiar. Amid the lofty platforms nearby, he spies four conspicuous gears. One can reach by following a section of the path. The others are harder to reach, but those he can’t jump to he can retrieve by knocking them with the bamboo disc or using Matau’s Kau Kau Staff to topple trees he can cross on.
His return to the village is met with cheers and music by the Le-Matoran and a delighted Matau.
“Thank you for getting our Toa Stone back!” he smiles. “You are now free to go to the next village.”
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