Well, I'm not going to be able to post this (or my other G2 epic) on a regular basis, but, it will be serialized. I'm posting the first two parts of this today, and I'll post the next one tommorow, but after that, my posting will be sporadic. Anyhow, this is far less lengthy than any of my other epics, so hopefully you'll get time to read it
The Tale of Veth
Prologue: In Remembrance of My Passing
You might know my name. I have lived for many years, had many sons, and soon I will die. But there are secrets, secrets I have kept for many years, secrets so strange and dark as to be completely unbelievable. But you must believe, I fear, the fate of Okoto may rest upon it.
______I will live for a few days longer, before my son takes my weapon and my place as the Protector of the Jungle Villagers. One day, he shall read this, though it shall not be too soon, I will make certain of that.
______So, this is a record, a record of secrets which ends in the climax of the war that we now know. The Spiders were not absent during the years following Makuta's fall, nor were they weak. No, they were biding their time, waiting. And what could we do? What could we do as the powerful Skull Spiders, the Katira'Anows as our people called them, constricted their claws about my people and my land?
______I was faced with the same, sad question when I was just a youth.
______This is the tale of my quest for the answer.
______So, read this record. I am Veth, and read this tale in remembrance of my passing.
Chapter One: A Warrior's Posterity
I picked up the weapon, and it lay heavy in my hands. It was a crossbow, green with streaks of blue, and bladed on the edges. I knew it well. I had seen this rest on my father's shelf and in his hands for years, and now, he was training me to use it.
______“Why must I learn to use this weapon, father?” I asked. “I am young, and you are far from old. It will be years before you pass and I must take your position, as the tradition of Kissona-Okoto demands.”
______“Kissona-Okoto is one tradition, Veth,” my father, Veka explained, “but the tradition of Shin'Aa, the Jungle Crossbow, is far older. I learned to use this weapon when I was your age. You can learn to use the Shin'Aa as I did.”
______“But father,” I complained, “the Shin'Aa is heavy. I can barely lift it, let alone use it well enough to fight the Skull Spiders.”
______Veka chuckled. “How well did you think I could carry the Shin'Aa at your age, hmm? Now, take aim, my son. Take your first shot with the Shin'Aa at that tree. See if you can hit it, eh?”
______He took the Shin'Aa and rested it in my grasp. Determined, I took aim and held myself straight, taking a form that my father had taught my for my entire life. Of course, this weapon was far heavier. It was made to be carried by an adult, not a child close to manhood.
______I did not know what to expect from the weapon, but I quickly learned. My finger closed on the trigger, and I felt the weapon jerk back in my arm, shoving me backwards. The Shin'Aa fell to the earth. I quickly followed it down.
______My father walked over to where I lay on the ground. Reaching out a kind hand, he pulled me up.
______Eagerly, I looked into my father's eyes. “Did I hit the tree father? Did I?”
______Smiling, Veka shook his head. “Let me say my son, that if you fire a weapon like that when the Katira'Anows attack, then you will be sleeping deeper than Ekimu. Try again. The Shin'Aa is a powerful weapon, and all power require practice to wield.”
______Disappointed by my failure, but still determined, I picked up the launcher.
______My next shot was closer, but not close enough. I was blown backwards again, but managed to regain my balance. I continued to fire, but every time I was blown backwards, every time my shot fired wildly and hopelessly into the air.
______Every time I begrudgingly returned to where I stood.
______But each time, it took me longer to stand back up, each time it was harder and harder to recover from my fall. Finally, I had taken enough.
______Fed up and filled with rage, I turned to my father in anger. “You and your cursed Shin'Aa!” I exclaimed. “Makuta's mask, I've had enough of this.”
______With a strength which would have been better served aiming the legendary Jungle Crossbow, I thrust the Shin'Aa on the ground.
______Then, I stalked away.
______I did not have a normal place to run to. Some children in the village went into their homes when they were upset, while others might climb a tree, or do something else of the sort. All had their place of peace, their hiding place.
______Mine was a long way, but this place was the place of my rejoicing. It was, of course, outlawed for any villagers to go there, but then, I was not a normal villager.
After an hour-long trudge through the mountains, through the pouring rain and muddy hill-sides, I reached my hiding place. I was far from my village then, far from the Shin'Aa, far from my father, far from what I perceived to be my troubles.
______How often the young are disillusioned.
______My sanctuary, as I said, was unique. It was the oldest library on Okoto, near the City of the Mask Makers. I had found it when I was young, when I was just learning to swing on vines and speak the tongue of Ekimu. My father had shown it to me, and I was delighted by it. It had been the sanctuary for every Jungle Protector since Ekimu's sleep, and I believed it would be for many more generations, until the vines finally crushed it and dragged the life out of it.
______The Katira'Anows did not come here.
______None of my ancestors had read the books, the books which filled up the library and were protected from the storms and winds and rain. We Jungle type are adventurers, not scholars and readers like those ice-types. I had to be different of course.
______The result was quite enjoyable, surprisingly. I became acquainted with Okoto's lost history and mythology, and I learned that some of our mythology had once, in fact, been quite real. I learned of the days before Ekimu and Makuta, and then of their fall. I read of our many illustrious traditions and their beginnings. I had learned of the creatures of the island, which one only ever saw far off, or boiling in a pot of stew.
______Apparently, before Enga-Makuta, or Makuta's Fall as most know it, all creatures were friendly creatures.
______No more. There is no such thing as a docile animal on this island, no, no such thing. It's as if, on that day, everything just decided to end.
______But I digress. I climbed over the wall and into the Sanctuary, and began to read. On this day, I read the tales of strange drakes underground, and of the Makuta's connection with the beast, the Harin as we call all of the animals. I also learned that Makuta, strangely, came from no tribe, orphaned from them all with his brother. No one knew from whence they came or whither they went.
______I had been reading for hours when the rain died out and the stars began to shine. Shutting the book, I looked out, for I enjoyed the stars. In that moment, I realized that it was strange to see stars so early in the night.
______Then I remembered tales of strange creatures, whose eyes looked like stars, tales told around a camp fire in the dead of night.
______In an instant all my senses were on alert. No Skull Creatures had dared ever to trespass this temple, and why they did so now was beside me. I reached for my belt, pulling out the small sword I had been given as a child. I saw the Katira'Anows, green ones, descend the walls, and I readied myself to fight them.
______One never quite gets past how horribly gruesome they look. Their legs are sharp, like a spear and a razor-blade, their bodies like beetles. Their eyes looked like perilous white stars, and when they near you in the dark it looks like all of the stars in the sky are crashing down upon you.
______They neared me, and I readied myself. Then, it began.
______One lunged for me, and I drove my blade towards it as my father had taught me. As I struck it, it shrieked out and crumpled like bone. It was gruesome, but it was not the first time I had slain a Skull Spider.
_______I cringed at my first kill of the night.
_______More came, and I swung my weapon at them, downing them one by one. The Skull Spiders wanted my mask, and but they did not care about preserving my body in the process. One leaped towards me, grappling onto my arm and digging its fangs into my metal and flesh. I cried out, striking square in the head, crumpling it.
_______They were beginning to surround me now, and I could not stop them. I was backed up against the wall standing against the stone. Green was everywhere, overwhelming my vision. At times, it looked at if the sky had turned green and the stars had grown in size. I cursed the very day I had sought the Sanctuary, thinking it to be safe.
______Continually, the spiders landed on me, sometimes slicing my metallic exo-skin, sometimes my flesh. I was bleeding in so many places I was more red than green. I continued to fight, knowing it was only fitting for a Protector's son to die in battle.
______I tried to ignore the fact that I had ended up in this fight because of my anger at my father.
______I was surrounded by the fragmented, skull-like bodies of the Katira'Anows, and their brothers were beginning drown out my sight. I felt fatigue weigh down my flurrying arms, and a pain gripped my gut.
______In that second, the Skull Spiders overwhelmed me. I did not cry out, or release a piercing scream of anguish. I only wished that the last words to my father had not been ones of anger. Even as their blade-like appendages cut into me, I did not feel a thing.
______Suddenly, I heard another sound, one strangely familiar. Like a half-forgotten dream, the memory of that sound repeated in my mind, over and over. Suddenly, I was aware that my vision, previously overwhelmed by a sickening green, was now being cleared. The Skull Spiders were being torn off of me, and the pain I had not even realized was there dissipated. I felt my bloody body lifted up, and I was suddenly looking into my father's pure yellow eyes.
_______“How did you know . . . ?” I asked.
_______Veka laughed. “How did I know where to find you? Where else would you go, but to read the texts?”
_______“I'm sorry, father. I thought that the Sanctuary was safe. The Spiders have never attacked it before.”
_______My father smiled. “You have read the tales. The Spiders will continue to encroach upon our lands, until one day, we are without hope. On that day we shall – ”
_______“Invoke the power of the past and future to call upon the Toa,” I said, quickly, despite my pain. It was a story every islander knew, one treasured beyond anything. It has not come to pass yet, but one day, my children will reach out with tendrils of time to summon the heroes. It will be glorious.
_______Veka laughed, loudly. “You know the prophecy well. Perhaps one day, you will speak it yourself, within the Temple of Time.”
_______Weakly, I shook my head. “No, father, not I. My son, perhaps, but not me.”
_______My father chortled, and he unlimbered the Shin'Aa from his back. “This weapon saved you. It is a warrior's posterity. One day, it shall be yours.”
_______I laughed a little too. “Father, perhaps the Shin'Aa is not so bad after all.”
_______“Perhaps not, Veth. Perhaps not.”
Chapter Two: The Sanctuary Lost
My tears, silhouetted by the flashing lightning of a different storm, covered the gift my father, with his dying motion, had handed to me. It was a different day twenty years later, and I had been too late to save my father. He was dead in the shadow of this Sanctuary from my childhood. I was young, barely ready to be a Protector, yet here I was. From his cold, dead hands, I pried the weapon, my weapon, the Shin'Aa.
______Then and there, dying for his village and his people, my father had never looked more powerful.
______A Skull Spider came up behind me, and I turned towards it, rage welling within me. With a swift motion, I grabbed the Skull Spider, and crushed it between my hands in fury.
______Below me, the Skull Spiders were burning and destroying the only friends I had ever known, the legends of Okoto. And now, they had destroyed one of the few people I had ever cared about. Wielding the Shin'Aa, I walked towards them.
______“Come at me you cursed little creeps!” I cried out, brandishing my weapon. The Skull Spiders are said to share some of their master's psychic power, having the ability to sense weakness.
______They could see my anger now, but they also saw it as weakness.
______Thankfully, they were wrong. I aimed my gun, firing away in a blaze of light and sound. The Spiders charged towards me, but few could make it past my powerful weapon. Those that did, met the biting fang of the Shin'Aa's blade.
______Suddenly, I was the one advancing, not them. I strode forwards, gun blazing, and the Skull Spiders did something they never do, and never have since: they retreated.
______Running away like a receding wave, they poured out of the library I had fought so hard to preserve. They would only return later to crush it to rubble, and bury that rubble with the dead. I could not let them escape, though. Not one.
______Somehow, though, one managed to escape the sanctuary alive.
______Slinging the Shin'Aa around my back, I set off in a quick pursuit. Suddenly, these were not the Skull Spiders' woods. They were mine. My unbendable force of will controlled this place, and I would not be broken.
______Over hill and under the trees I dove, quick as my father had taught me, and lithe as a snake. Agile as a Blaze-Monkey, deadly as a Tunnel Drake, none would dare to take me.
______Breath after breath, I kept on, quickening pace, speeding up, nearing that little green Makuta curse. With every step I was closer, until a spit of brush became to thick. I unlimbered the Shin'Aa, and blasted it all out of the way. When the shrub was thoroughly destroyed, I stopped for a second and listened. The sound of waves touched my ears, and I walked forwards. I looked out, and knew where I stood. I had managed to back the Skull Spider into a corner, the Cliffs of the Cloudy Sea.
______But there was yet a ways to go. I ran faster and faster, asking Ekimu for help to continue on. The Skull Spider could last long enough to seal its own doom, why not I to seal its doom for it?
______Lightning flashed as the journey drew out. All manner of hostile creatures came towards me, but a mere glance caused them to back off in order to search for easier prey.
______Much of the rest of that journey is lost from my memory, purged by the emotional typhoon of my soul.
______Then, I realized that I had cornered it. I remember coming out into a clearing, and the Skull Spider sat there. The cursed Katira'Anows was corned, faced with the raging sea below and my raging anger. It looked behind it, faced with a choice of deaths, and quickly decided which it preferred. I did not give it a choice.
______As it was about to leap over the side, I grabbed it with my hands and looked it square in the face. Like their master, the Skull Spiders have some bit of psychic ability, though it is rarely recognized. However, in this moment of pure fear, I could sense it, pleading with me, begging me to throw it over the side and end its life. But mercy was a foreign idea to me now.
______With a single flex of my muscles, I crushed it between my hands and tossed it over the side. Then, I went back to the Sanctuary to bury my father.
It is a tradition of my people that the Protector's son is to bury him, and that the grave must be dug on the spot of his death with bare hands. I don't know who thought of the tradition, but they must have been mad.
______Still, a little bit of madness is necessary after your father has died, I believe, especially considering how Veka died. As I dug through the stone floor, mourning, the rain came down, slowly and imperceptibly aiding my work.
______When I was done, I placed rubble across the top of the grave, and took up my father's weapon. I was the Protector of Jungle now.
______A villager came running up to me. “Veth! Your wife is having the dream. Your presence if requested.”
______Face still scarred by sadness, I turned to him. “I will be there,” I said, tiredly.
______Raising an eyebrow, he looked over me. “Is something wrong?”
______I sighed. “There is a new Protector of Jungle now, that is all.”
______The villager shook his head. “My condolences, Protector,” he said, quietly. I observed the nuances of his tone, which had changed from surprise and sadness to a mournful respect of me.
______I walked towards the villager on the path back to the village, a serious look on my face. “No condolences now, my friend. This Sanctuary is lost. The Katira'Anows continue to encroach upon our land without relief. I fear the worst.”
______With a Jungle Villager's quickness, I sprinted down the path, followed closely by the Villager. I prayed to the Nameless Father, Father of the Mask Makers, that my wife would face no ill in her dream.
The Dream is how our children enter this world. It is always a strange and inexplicable process, but it occurs none-the-less. It begins when a male and female villagers concrete their relationship with one another by trading masks. It is by Ekimu's blessing that children, young villagers, come. They are never sure if children will come, but, in the months prior to the dream, they will sleep less and less, and their rest will be empty of any dreams.
______It is preparation for the Dream, which some don't survive.
______After several months of no dreams, the female will wake up, and be unable to fall to sleep. It is then that preparation of the village begins. We prepare her a room, and she lays on a bed, awake. When she can remain awake no longer, the body and mind enter a coma. At this point, a strange night dream commences that none ever remember. They toss and turn for several hours, and it was at this point that I entered the room.
______My wife was groaning in pain, the light in her eyes dim. Fear gripped my heart, as I was afraid that I might lose my father, wife, and newborn child in the same day. Of course, that is the fear of all, but I cannot help but feel it. After all, sometimes their fears are justified.
______Darkness began to shroud her face, and I took her hand. I wondered what she was dreaming, and what it was like to forget the most amazing thing which has ever happened to you.
______When he face was covered completely in a veil of darkness, I knew the time was near. Either a blinding light would come from nowhere, or her eyes would fade, and she would die. I waited for an eternal second, uncertain of what was about to happen.
______A silent explosion of light blazed anew in the room, light without heat. I stared deeply into my wife's eyes. The light sent hope blooming in my heart, and as it dimmed, I saw a new child, bearing my wife's mask, resting on her lap.
______Some villagers have sacred masks, masks passed down from Ekimu. Those masks are always passed to their children, and they are given a new mask, though a less important one.
______My wife smiled up at me, her face empty of the mask which had once been mine. Glancing to the child, I smiled, and then smiled at her.
______I picked up the little villager, a boy, and looked into his eyes. It is tradition that a male chooses the son's name, and the female the daughter's. This was a son, the one destined to be the Protector of the Jungle Villages.
______“What will you call him?” my wife croaked.
______“He needs a strong name,” I said, looking into his eyes, “for he faces dark times. Times in which he may be forced to call upon the Toa. Even this day, the Skull Spiders have taken the Sanctuary. Yes, he must be a strong child, for the fight against the Skull Spiders becomes more and more desperate. A strong name . . . what is a strong name?” I looked at the child, who smiled back at me. “Child, you are a hope for dark times,” I said to him, “you must be the greatest of the Jungle Protectors, greater than your father and his father before. Since the time of my father's grandfather, our names have begun with the 'Ve', which means first. The first of your name, though, shall be 'Vi', meaning last. Thus, you shall be Vizuna, our last hope, for the dark times.”
______The child understood in the only way he could. It was the truth, and I knew it.
______The last hope.