Realm of Fire
Heading southeast from Ko-Wahi, Takua makes his way along the lava river of the Tren Krom Break. The Ta-Koro Guards have a cablecar that allow them easy passage, but not being a guard, Takua knows he will not be allowed use of it. Instead, he braves Makuta’s wrathful Rahi as he heads to the Lake of Fire.
Even a wanderer like Takua cannot, under regular circumstances, deny the comfort that comes with seeing his home region again. After all that he has been through, he would have a hard time complaining about its lack of excitement for quite some time. It is true, Ta-Koro has never seemed to be enough for him, but it is home just the same—and it has been so for hundreds of years.
Yet the closer he draws to the village, the more a lingering fear grows within him. Before he set out on this quest, he had been exiled.
Why, in these treacherous times, when the shadows of Makuta stretches far and wide and his beasts patrol the skies, land, caverns, and seas, had he been kicked out of his village?
He didn’t work hard enough.
Life as a Matoran is demanding. Pent up in the fortified, fiery regions of Ta-Koro by Makuta’s beasts, the Ta-Matoran have scarce land with which they could work. Somehow they get by--some years better than others--but survival demands a high price. Everyone has to pitch in, and there can be no freeloaders. And when Takua insisted on taking every opportunity to escape and see more of the world - in spite of Turaga Vakama’s threatening, pleading, and bargaining - the village elder had finally done the only sensible thing and kicked him out.
As he arrives outside the Ta-Koro gate, he hesitates. Beyond it, Takua is relieved to see that the gate is up, but between the village and him are two strong guards. Takua has no desire to face them, but if he is to at least warn the village of the troubles that lie ahead, he will have to get past them. Briefly, he considers running around the gate and looking for some other entrance, but another guard blocks the way. Speaking to the other guards, he is telling them, “Jala says we have to keep a sharp lookout for Rahi!” Scanning the wilderness beyond, he adds, “A dangerous lava creature was seen near Ta-Koro a few days ago. Be careful!”
As the traveler edges forward, both guards move to meet him. Any hope that they will greet him warmly are immediately extinguished. As they brandish their weapons and shields, Takua realizes they mean to detain him.
He bolts for the village.
The guards try to capture him, but Takua’s adventures have given him nothing if not speed. Sprinting past them, he darts through the gate, he hears their angry yelling behind him.
“There he is!” the first guard shouts. “Let’s get him!”
The second guard sprints past him. “We can’t let him get away!”
“Stop where you are!” the first bellows.
The second guard stops, confused. “Ok!”
The first facepalms. “Not you, silly!”
Takua is already well inside the village, and his familiarity with his home serves him well. Guards run out to stop him, but he knows their stations like the back of his hand, and in spite of all its protections, even Ta-Koro’s militia is caught off-guard by an intrusion from one of the village’s own. With a dozen soldiers on his tail and desperate to warn them about the Turaga’s kidnapping, Takua manages to reach the village meeting place. As he reaches it, he nearly slams into the Turaga himself as he was stepping outside.
Takua is shocked. On one hand, by some miracle, Makuta’s Rahi have not abducted the Turaga. Is it possible he won’t have to venture into the hostile stretches of Ta-Wahi?
On the other hand, what will Turaga Vakama say upon seeing the exile returned? Takua holds his breath.
The Turaga regards Takua coolly. Waving the guards off, he speaks.
“I’ve heard about you, Takua. You’re just a villager! You’ve come very far for one so small. I’ve heard about how skilled you are, but I am not convinced. Are you strong enough to recover the lost Toa Tahu Stone? I don’t think you’re up to the task! But I am willing to give you a chance. Before you can help us find our Toa Tahu Stone, you must help us purify the only source of water to our village. Makuta’s henchmen have poisoned our wells, and we need to find them! If you can find an antidote, I’ll give you the help you need to find the Toa Tahu Stone.”
It is more than Takua could have hoped for. Not only has Vakama allowed him free passage within the village, he remains safe. But Takua will indeed have to venture out.
The poisoning of the water is not a surprise, in hindsight. Along with the theft on the Element of Melting, it seemed Makuta’s newest targets included the health and wellbeing of the villagers themselves. But now he is equipped with all six Turaga staffs and stronger than ever before.
The final trial has begun.
Hoping that the Treekeeper might have some notion about antidotes, Takua stops first at the Vuata Maca Tree. By the time he finds the Ta-Koro Treekeeper, the purple and green Matoran is pacing anxiously.
“You’ve probably figured this out by now,” he starts, “but we also need Vuata Maca Tree crystals. You are the only one who can find them, the rest of us must defend Ta-Koro. Do not return until you have found the Vuata Maca Tree crystals!”
Takua grimaces at the snappy tone. Then again, it is nice to have the option of returning.
Takua gathers what information he can about the whereabouts of the Antidote and sets off. On the easternmost side of the village, one of the Ta-Koro Guards restricts his passage, so instead he leaves through the village gate. He passes the guards and makes his way around the edges of the village, trekking deep into Ta-Wahi.
Having thoroughly charted the fire region long ago, Takua soon finds himself at the southernmost portion of Ta-Wahi, where the region meets with the jungle of Le-Wahi. It comes as no surprise that this region is also under assault by Makuta’s minions. Nor has Makuta spared any of his strength, for Takua almost immediately finds himself under assault by several Vatuka stone elementals. But these are not as strong as the one Takua had faced before, or at least he is much stronger than he had been then. With several well-placed throws of the bamboo discs, he quickly fells them.
Luckily, the antidote-bearing plant isn’t hidden in the jungle, but naturally thrives on the emanating heat from Ta-Wahi. He grabs what he needs and returns to Ta-Koro.
Delighted at the pace with which he was completing this segment of his quest, he returns to the village in high spirits. But as he crosses back into the village and sees a captain marshaling Ta-Matoran forces, his heart sinks.[note 1]
The captain’s eyes meet his, and their grim expression say everything.
“It’s about time!” he grunts. “Where have you been? Vakama has been taken by a band of hot-headed Fire Maha! Only you can save Vakama, as I must stay here and guard the village.”
Takua is surprised to learn that the Maha were spotted carrying Vakama off not far from where he had just retrieved the Antidote. Following the path he has just taken, he makes his way further along the trail. Before long, he detects hoofprints left by the Fire Maha.
Rounding a bend, he comes within sight of a large cage. The Matoran gingerly hurries over to the cage, conscious of his good fortune to this point. He is right in the middle of patting himself on the back when Vakama’s Kanohi appears in the bars.
“Help me! Those Maha over there have the key to this cage. You must knock them all out to get the key!”
Takua freezes. He stared at the lock on the door, then looks where Vakama is pointing, at a Fire Maha herd grazing nearby. He looked again at the Turaga and then at the Maha.
Vakama is right.
Takua spies the keys dangling from the horns of one of the Fire Maha. Taking a deep breath, he creeps over to the herd, doing his very best not to scare or challenge them.
But his efforts are in vain. The entire herd takes off running.
Takua sprints after the Maha, hurling his bamboo discs with all his strength. Jumping over lava puddles and racing around the steep path, they wind around the mountain. But Takua’s bamboo discs are effective, and one by one they fall. Frustratingly, the one with the key is the most evasive and is the last to be beaten, but it, too, falls.
The Matoran hurries back to the Turaga, who looks relieved. “You have saved me,” he says, “let’s go back to the village.”
Ignalu Lava Surfing
The Turaga seems embarrassed as he arrives in his hut. Awkwardly, he turns to Takua, an Amana Volo Sphere in hand.
“Well, I guess you’ve passed the test, but I think you were lucky! There is little time remaining to find the Toa Tahu Stone! You must find it quickly before it is lost in the depths of Mt. Ihu forever. Now get going!”
At his side, the captain bows. “Good luck, Takua. The path ahead is a dangerous one! Now go! And may Tahu protect you…”
If he is to travel along the lava rivers beneath Mt. Ihu, Takua knows he’ll have to take a Lava Surfboard. Fortunately, Vakama gave him one as a special gift. But it has been some time since he surfed, and he will need to get up to speed.
Bringing the board over to some surfers nearby, he is immediately greeted warmly by one. Pointing at his board, the Ta-Matoran grins. “Have you tried Ignalu Lava Surfing? It’s a blast!”
Takua explains his mission, and the Matoran nods sternly. As the traveler finishes, the surfer remarks, “Jala is a very good lava surfer. Have you raced against him yet?”
Takua says that he has not.
The surfer grabs his board and starts for the lava. “If you win all the village games, you get the Copper Mask!” he says over his shoulder.
Two other surfers grab their boards. The four Ta-Koronans jump in the lava and set off.
Though he is wobbly at first, he’s had more than his share of practice learning the sport, and he regains an edge quickly. Before long, he is quickly weaving in and out of stalagmites and stalactites, keeping up with even the most seasoned surfer.
And as the finish line draws closer, he leans in and edged out the other three.
Takua is breathless and exhilarated, and before long he is adorned with the Copper Mask of Victory. But he has no time to spare, and as the Mangai volcano rumbles, he prepares for this final quest.
The Toa Tahu Stone
The guard on the easternmost side of the village has disappeared, so Takua decides to follow that trail to see where it leads. By the time he makes it out to the lava plains, the lava is boiling and spilling over, and the river is churning more rapidly than normal.
He has chosen a northern path down into the volcano. Here the frosty temperatures from Mount Ihu descend into the volcano to make for a slightly cooler, more tolerable entrance. Most Ta-Matoran don’t mind the heat and bask in its radiance, but Takua has quickly discovered he is much more sensitive to it than they.
As in so many things, Takua had always been different.
Undeterred by the waves of heat from the rock and magma, he is able to focus his attacks on the Rahi who tried to block his progress. More Maha appear, as well as Hikaki and Vako. But the worst enemies in this land are the Husi. The ostriches could run on lava and were feared for their relentless pecking attacks. Takua can scarcely surf fast enough to avoid them.
After following the long, winding lava river deep into the mountain, he spots a glowing side tunnel wherein lies a Vuata Maca crystal. In his customary manner, he takes it with him.
Soon even the winding lava river ends, and he can resume the path on foot. Continuing down the path, Takua arrives at a large chamber, shaped mostly as a semi-circle. A lava moat bisects the room, keeping him on his side and from reaching the other half. Across the flow, however, he can see a geyser, as well as three large mechanical platforms, like the ones he activated to release Whenua’s prison.
Yet this is not the most surprising part. To the side of the chamber’s entrance, on a small mound in the dirt, rests the Toa Tahu Stone. Along the edge of the room, easily reachable on foot, is the second Vuata Maca crystal.
Takua grabs both objects. As he does, he gets the sense that Makuta has left these objects here on purpose, as if to toy with him. The Matoran does not cross over to the three large platforms at the center of the chamber, although the very sight of it piques his curiosity. What would they activate? Did they connect to something Makuta was trying to protect?
But Takua knows Ta-Koro needs the Vuata Maca crystals and the Toa Tahu Stone. Resisting the temptation to investigate further, he heads back.
Return to the Village
The Matoran returns quickly to the village where Turaga Vakama awaits.
“Thank you for getting our Toa Stone back!” he nods sagely.
The Treekeeper is a little less curt this time. “Excellent work! You’ve recovered the first half of the Vuata Maca Tree crystal. There is still one more you must find,” he says as Takua pulls out the first crystal.
Upon seeing the second, the Treekeeper quickly adds both back to the Vuata Maca Tree. “I’m glad you brought back the two Vuata Maca Tree crystals. Thanks again,” he says, providing Takua with one final Amana Volo Sphere.
As Takua wanders the village, his adventure over, Ta-Koro has settled into a sense of ease. Even the guards that met himat the beginning greet him calmly.
“Don’t you get tired of carrying all that stuff?” one says.
The other agrees. “You look like a strong fellow! Have you thought of joining the village guard?”
Takua heads back into the village where he hears other villagers talking.
“Ta-Koro is too hot! I’d much rather live in a cool village, like Ko-Koro.”
“I’ve heard that Kapura likes to wander around Mata Nui in his spare time.”
“Vakama and Matau are said to be good friends.”
Despite the peace that has come over the island, the traveler feels anxious and on edge. He cannot forget the mechanism hidden deep beneath Mt. Ihu, and the very thought of it intrigues him. The Turaga is to travel to Kini-Nui with the Toa Tahu Stone where he will meet the other Turaga. Takua is to accompany him there, but there is still some time. Surely he can sneak in one more adventure?
Takua hastens back to where he recovered the Toa Tahu Stone, along the winding lava river and through the tunnels. Before long, he is back.
Indeed, the geyser and the mechanism are right where it was when he had seen them last. But the lava moat still separates him from it. Unlike the river, this lies still and wouldn’t be nearly so easy to surf. And he cannot jump across.
He looks around the chamber. There isn’t much in the way of equipment. The solution to this kind of problem in the other regions was to use his Volo Lutu Launcher and pull himself across, but there are no protruding details within range to which the tool could adhere. Additionally, in any of the other regions he would have created an ice pillar with the Ice Pick, backed up, and then launched himself across. Here, though, the heat would liquefy the construction before he could properly use it.
Takua gasps. Retrieving the Pick and resting it inches above the surface of the lava, he activates it. The slick lava cools and, sure enough, stone has formed.
Tentatively, Takua lowers his foot onto it, testing its sturdiness and temperature. When it holds, he shifts his full weight to it. To his relief, it does not shift or sink.
He repeats the process a few more times, rapidly advancing across the magma. It is to his immense relief that the magma of these stretches are cool enough to perform such a stunt, for deep in the Mangai, far from Ihu, there are places where even ice could not avail.
Stepping over to the far edge, Takua strides over to the mechanism, breathless.
The platforms rest unguarded. But how can he activate them?
He needs boulders.
Takua looks around. Not far from each platform are three giant boulders. Smaller boulders lie to their side.
He sprints to the first large boulder and rolls it onto the nearby platform, hearing a sharp click beneath it. He does the same with the second, then the third. The ground rumbles and split open again, and this time a giant white crystal emerged from it. And the volcano roars.
Now Takua is starting to panic. Is he doing the right thing? He’s come too far to stop now.
As he peers at the crystal, he realizes there was something situated at its center. But when he strikes at it even with the Stone Hammer, the crystal does not split open.
Takua looks around. His eyes fall on the geyser, then on the smaller boulders.
Can it work? Almost certainly not, but he has to try.
Hoisting one of the small boulders, he hurls it with all his might onto the geyser. The large stone flies into the air, arcs over, and descends with a crash onto the crystal.
The roaring of the volcano reaches its apex and the quaking of the ground was at its most violent. Takua steps forward to look at the crystal, but before he can, the earth gives way and he tumbles into darkness. He strikes something hard and it all goes black.
Takua awakes with a start. He feels himself, but he is not injured.
He sits up. He is drifting along one of the deepest magma flows in the mountain. His equipment is still on him.
But as he scans his surroundings, panic swells once again. There, not so far down the chamber, a towering wave of lava is bearing down on him. Even the Rahi are fleeing terrified, for a flock of Husi are running out in front of it.
He looks around. There is nothing he could stick in the magma to paddle with, and the sheer heat and speed of the wave mean freezing the magma was out. There is truly no way to escape.
Takua looks up. The Husi are nearing his position quickly. Is there any way--
He looks down at his Volo Lutu Launcher, then looks up. He looks down, then up again. Fastening the bundle tighter on his back, grasping his Lavaboard with one hand, and aiming the Launcher with the other, he utters a quiet prayer to Mata Nui. And then he waits.
In seconds the Husi flock is racing past him. But he only needs one. He lets his Volo Lutu fly… but it misses. He fires again and misses again.
The flock has almost passed and the wave was almost here. He only has one more shot. Taking a deep breath, he tries for what will be his last time.
Success! The projectile latches on, and in the Husi’s wake fly Launcher, Takua, Lavaboard, and all.
Now comes an even harder challenge, for as he is sucked down the magma river ahead of the wave, he has to navigate explosions, falling debris, and towering rock formations. Several times he evades by a razor’s margin. And even as he feels the deafening cacophony of the volcano would split his head open, it continues to grow louder. At times, he seems to hear malevolent laughter mingled in the noise.
So focused is he on surviving the trip that he fails to notice the light at the end of the tunnel, and when the Husi run out and plunge over the lava falls outside the volcano, he shoots far into the air, nearly losing his grasp on his Lavaboard. And when he falls and splashes into the cooling lava far below, it is only the buoyancy of his board that keeps him from sinking to a molten tomb. As the volcano billows smoke and spits out lava as far as the Ta-Wahi beach, Takua drifts gently along, too exhausted to resist.
It is some time before he finally returns to the village. As he enters, any warmth and favor he has gained has disappated. Although they cannot prove it, most villagers suspect Takua has had something to do with the volcano’s explosion. Some who had been working there blame him and regard him coldly, demanding he be driven again from Ta-Koro.
But not everyone is as harsh. Knowing that the journey to Kini-Nui will be long, and that he will not need his Lava surfboard, Takua entrusts it to one of the surfers. Then he finds Vakama who takes him to the temple.
- Given his placement near Vakama’s hut, his yellow Hau, and his dialogue and role, it seems likely that this Matoran represents Jala. Because this is not confirmed, he is not named such here.
- Within this level, unused dialogue includes:
“Well done, Takua! You have earned the Copper Mask for winning all six of the village games! It is a great honor.” (Interestingly, this line is not tied to winning all the minigames, but is instead coded to appear if the player collects more Vuata Maca Fruit than is actually obtainable.)
“The Vuata Maca Fruit on every level will help you recharge your energy.” (Despite being supposed to show up, this line also doesn’t appear due to a bug.)
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