This is a serial taking place on Bara Magna. It is divided into three sections, each with its own title.
A sandstorm was coming in. The being observing it looked like something that had been dead for weeks. And, to some extent, it had. The corpse was a host for something much older. It had been altered from its original form, and now had the proportions of a tall and very skinny Glatorian. The body had originally belonged to Vamprah. Now it was controlled by one of the most ruthless killing machines in the universe (and that’s saying a lot).
The Plains tribe was gearing up for a sandstorm. Most tribes hid away during such events, but not the Plains. They were good at navigating sandstorms, and they knew that useful things and useful Agori could be found in one. Saluk particularly enjoyed this duty, since he himself had been found by the Plains in a sandstorm. Also, being a large and heavily armored relative of Malum made him the very best at it. In fact, the only competition was the only other Plains Glatorian, a Jungle named Kirek. Kirek had found three Agori and fifteen rare artifacts in the last five sandstorms, which was right behind Saluk’s record. Today though, Kirek planned to get far ahead once again.
The signal was given and the four foragers flew off into the sandstorm. Although the main objective of the mission was to forage, it had become a competition similar to the arena battles with many Plains coming to watch the event. Today was the final round.
Kirek ran blindly into the wind, heading for his favorite hot spot. He had located it a week ago, but only took one item of five because he knew he would need it for the final. Any normal Glatorian or Agori would find it impossible to navigate such a storm, but the Plains, who lived in the harsh terrain between the Black Spike and White Quartz mountains were no ordinary tribe. It was a group of runaways and outlaws who had banded together and made a settlement. The tribe rescued lost Agori and taken them in. It now had nearly a hundred members.
Kirek now arrived at his hot spot, only to find that someone else had gotten there before him. It was an Agori called Pawi who had only recently come to the Plains. However, Pawi had soon proved to be an excellent sandstormer. However, being an Agori, he was at a disadvantage in fighting. And Sandstorming had no rules. He lunged at Pawi, who dodged with surprising agility and ran off into the sand with his stolen treasure. Kirek was not at all happy about this, but at least the Agori had only taken the mysterious chest, which left Kirek the tablets, the sword, and the weird helmet, which weren’t in bad condition. Kirek sighed, gathered his finds, and ran off into the sand.
The Skralk looked upon the desert, and saw that the sandstorm was ending.
They were a breakaway group of Skrall who had not wanted to move to the Black Spike Mountains. Instead they hunted in the volcanic plains, carefully hiding from most danger but fighting where they could. Their leader was a massive warrior known as Kok, who had led them through their hard times by getting everybody to do what he said or punching their faces in. Most did what he said.
But now prey was running scarce, and they began to move south, towards the area where the Plains lived. And they hated Agori.
Saluk grinned at a very annoyed Kirek. The Jungle Glatorian scowled and said, “I would probably have won if not for that shrimp Pawi.” This only widened Saluk’s grin. The former Fire Glatorian replied, “Yes, I heard the rumors that Pawi beat you in a fight.”
Several nearby Agori sniggered. Pawi was a good sandstormer, but he wasn’t very good in a fight. The strange thing, Kirek reflected, was that Pawi had paid a high price to keep the chest for himself. Also he had offered to buy the weird helmet, which seemed to attach to the front of the head instead of the top. Kirek was recultant to sell it immediately, since he knew he could get a better offer, as there was a trade embargo due to go to Icanox next week. It would cross dangerous areas of the desert, but it wasn’t as if anything too serious would happen…
The Vorox burst out of the sand and sliced off the head of a Bone Hunter. Nearby, three Rock Steeds fell as well over a hundred howling Vorox stabbed, slashed, and hacked them to pieces. The albino member of this group stood up and watched his packs take apart the raiding party. He had been born more intelligent than most Vorox, and now commanded an allegiance of several large packs. His own pack had been selected out of the fastest, smartest, and most agile of all, and wielded two-pronged spears instead of swords. This pack was unknown to most, as they rarely left survivors. Recently, however, travelers and beasts had been somehow not arriving. And therefore they were moving north- into Plains territory.
Saluk had just become very rich. Trade had gone well for the Plains, and Kirek was actually being nice to him (an occurrence so rare it had never been conceived before). At least, everything was going well until he saw the group of massive black warriors ordering them to halt. The Skralk were blue-black and carried maces, swords, clubs, and just about everything else that could potentially reduce you to a bunch of battered armor.
Their patrol leader stepped forward and yelled, “Give us everything you have or we will reduce you to a bunch of battered armor!” Kirek was about to try and negotiate when an Agori threw a rock which hit the Skralk on the head. The patrol leader’s head swelled to twice it’s normal size, turned bright red, and yelled “GETTHEMCRUSHTHEMSMASHTHEMBASHTHEM!!!!!!”. The warriors under his command responded by charging the Plains waving over fifty sharp objects total.
Saluk gave the order to run and no one argued with him. However, being bigger than most Agori, the Skralk caught up quickly, and were almost about to cut the rear guard to pieces when their own rear guard got cut to pieces by a mob of howling Vorox. As the Skralk turned to confront this new threat, the Plains saw their chance and made a break for it, tearing like a Zesk on steroids across the sand. A few Skralk tried to chase them, but were brought down by Pawi’s excellent Thornaxmanship. Even when the battle receded to a speck behind them, the Plains kept running until their village was within sight. After that they thught it was over. They were wrong.
Gax burst into Kok’s chamber yelling about the Vorox. Kok turned, whacked Gax over the head with his mace and laughed. He already knew about the Vorox. And he was pleased, because if there were as many of them as his subordinates said, this could mean war.
The Shadow with Vamprah’s body surveyed all this at once. The prey running out for the Skralk and the Vorox had not been coincidence. It had been him. Of course, his orders had said only to destroy the artifacts and target, but he couldn’t help manipulating large forces. He was a shadow, and that was what they did. Besides, it would all be dust in the end.
The Plains were readying to leave. There was a battle coming and they knew it. For weeks the Skralk and the Vorox had been gathering their forces. Patrols had skirmished in the desert. A battle was coming, and when it did the Plains would already be running. As Saluk packed thornax into a wagon, Kirek came over and handed Saluk a sword. “I found it during the sandstorm, but it isn’t my type of weapon.” he explained. Saluk thanked him for it and looked at the sword. The metal was red-orange and stronger than anything he had seen before. Weird, he thought. Just then a scout came running into the makeshift village, yelling “They’re coming! They’re coming!”, and as he said that the first ranks of Skralk came over the horizon…
The albino Vorox had been busy. Even after recruiting several packs already in the area, the Skralk still outnumbered them almost two to one. They could not rely on brute force as usual, instead they were relying on tactics. The Vorox were not exactly renowned for their strategic brilliance and the whole battle depended on his decisions. Not that he didn’t have a plan. Even by Agori standards he was moderately bright. He just didn’t want to get into the conflict altogether. But Kok had given them no choice. He grabbed his spear and dove into the tunnel.
Kok and his army marched slowly but steadily across the sand. The Skralk leader wielded two massive swords. At his side was Gax with a scythe. The Vorox had not yet shown their faces, which meant they probably had some nasty strategy planned. Kok was not worried. His army would crush the Vorox through pure strength and numbers.
Just then the Plains made a break for it. Their timing was unfortunate because at the exact same moment half the Vorox charged at the Skralk, sandwiching the Plains in the middle.
As the Vorox charged towards them, the Skralk started charging back. Within moments the desert was awash with fighting. The other half of the Vorox, led by the lead pack, burst out of the sand and sliced through the Skralk like a knife through butter. Within seconds the blue-black warriors got their act together and retaliated.
Storm clouds began to gather, pulled into the spot by a winged creature that spread darkness as it flew. The Shadow was using them as bait to draw out the target. Under normal circumstances taking on The First in one-on-one combat would be suicide, but with so many weaker beings around he wouldn’t dare go full force. And then there was the matter of the artifacts. The shadow zoomed in with its long-range vision and located all of them. The first to go, it decided, would be the sword and the unfortunate Glatorian carrying it…
Saluk roared as he battered multiple Skralk and Vorox aside. Him, Kirek, and some of the more experienced Agori had formed a protective circle around the Plains and were desperately trying to fight their way through the battle. For a moment he noticed something flying over the battle, and then it turned towards him and something dark shot out and sent him flying. The bat-winged creature landed and moved swiftly towards him. Kirek lunged at it, but whatever it was grabbed him by the neck and began sending thin bolts of darkness into his armor.
Saluk looked around for a weapon, and grabbed a chest from Pawi, who was fighting nearby. It flew open and revealed two small stones inside. Saluk picked one up and smashed it into the bat-creature’s face. It screeched and turned towards him, and he punched it again. Then he realized that his arm was on fire. He panicked for and instant and then realized he was not being burned.
However, at that moment a bolt of shadow smashed him to the ground. The creature transformed its wing into a curved blade, and brought it down… and was knocked backwards by a powerful ripple that sliced the very air as it moved. The creature screeched and flew off. Saluk moaned and lay down when a voice coming from where the ripple had originated said “It’ll be back.” Saluk looked over and was surprised to see it had come from where Pawi was standing. But the Agori was not there. In his place was a tall green being who looked like he was even more tired that Saluk. “Who are you?”, Kirek managed to croak. “I am The First Messanger,” replied the being, “and I’d like to congratulate the two of you for becoming the first known Glatorian ever to be a Toa.”
TO BE CONTINUED…
The stones in the chest were not Toa Stones and were not responsible for Saluk and Kirek's becoming Toa. Incidentally, Saluk and Kirek can now use mask powers, but wearing a mask will not increase their elemental power.