Part 2 – Change of Faith
The Lesterin priest of Mata Nui began yet another long trek up to Kini Nui temple. He made this pilgrimage once a year, to renew his faith in the protector of the island, and this year was no different.
He came up over a rise, and spotted the temple just ahead of him. But he was exhausted from his journey, and he wished to refresh himself before entering the holy place. Sitting down in a nearby clearing, he pulled out a waterskin and began washing the dust of his travels from his hands and armour.
He was so distracted with his cleansing that he didn’t hear what was closing in behind him until the Muaka crashed through the trees and swept him aside with one slash of its claws. He went sprawling, dazed but not bleeding. The claws had gone through his backpack and scraped his armour, but hadn’t penetrated.
He reached for his staff, but the Muaka seemed to understand his intention, and battered the stave out of the way before he could reach it. The priest scrambled backwards, until he found himself pressed up agaisnt a tree trunk. He looked at the predatory creature stalking towards him. There was no infected mask signifying Makuta’s corruption; this was one of Mata Nui’s own creatures.
“Please Mata Nui…” he stammered, breathing hard, “…I have been your staunchest servant… please show mercy…” and then it happened. A second creature came literally flying out of the trees, driving a lance of some kind into the Muaka’s side. The priest’s eyes widened in surprise. Was that a… Rahkshi?
As he watched on in disbelief, the Rahkshi ripped the staff free and stabbed at the wounded Muaka again. The beast reacted quickly, evading the strike, then jumping up and swiping at the Rahkshi, knocking it out of the sky and onto the ground. It pounced on the down creature, which raised its staff, impaling the giant predatory cat in midair.
The Muaka screeched in pain as it slid down the bloodied stave, but it did not die. With its full weight pinning the downed Rahkshi to the ground, it lashed out again and again, ripping at the thing’s armour with its razor claws. The Rahkshi struck back with its own claws, and the priest looked away as Muaka blood and Rahkshi ichor began to splatter the dirt and foliage around him.
It took several agonisingly long minutes for the sounds to stop. When he finally opened his eyes, there was nothing left remotely resembling either creature. Just… pieces… lying there in a tangled, glistening pile.
He spent hours sorting through the mess, gathering up the pieces of the slain Rahkshi, then another hour digging a grave to bury them in. He wasn’t sure why he was devoting so much time and effort into honouring a son of Makuta, but it had saved his life. It took all of that time for the message to really sink in.
He’d prayed to Mata Nui, but Makuta had answered.
His work complete, the priest gathered his belongings and began the long journey back down the mountain. He did not complete his pilgrimage that year, or any year afterwards. It would be a long time before he returned to Kini Nui, and when he did, he would bear an entirely different name and purpose.
He would be The Heretic.