Recount of a Trip to Destral: Part IV - The Courtyards

Updated: May 19, 2020

You can read part three of Keyaji's recount here.

by Keto Keyaji, Akutana e Metru Nui, recorded 85,024 a.A.

Upon leaving Mistress Yandra‘s quarters, Hailari asked me where I wanted to go, although she pointed out that even with her as an escort most areas of Destral were forbidden for me to enter. I was a little disappointed that one of these forbidden areas was the Tower of Guidance, where the great hall with the throne of the Brotherhood’s leader is located. The tales I had heard all mentioned it to be an impressive sight. I also didn’t have permission to leave the fortress to visit the greenhouses, something which greatly diminished my good mood.

When I asked Hailari where I was allowed to go she proposed a tour of the outer courtyards. There were usually training sessions going on at this time of the day, so chances were good to see some Toa Hagah and perhaps even a Makuta or two in action.

While I usually detest violence of any kind, even if just for training purposes, these last words did spark a certain interest in me. I always had been curious to some extent of how much the elite of the Toa truly set themselves apart from other heroes who didn’t get awarded the honor of serving the Makuta. Seeing a Makuta in action on top of that – how many beings can claim to have witnessed this? I thus only hesitated for a brief moment before agreeing to Hailari’s suggestion.

Indeed, the outer courtyards of Destral’s fortress turned out to be far more alive than on the night we arrived, although anyone used to life in a city will still find the activity sparse. A few real Rahkshi patrolled the area, everyone giving them a wide berth, while beings of various different species followed their daily routine. Most of them seemed to be mercenaries based on their equipment, but I also spotted some wearing expensive looking robes or gilded, gemstone-encrusted armor which pointed them out as important representatives of various regions who had business with the Makuta. Even several Matoran were around, although they obviously were servants, keeping the grounds clean and doing repairs or delivering messages. I tried to talk to a few of them, but they always excused themselves, saying they had important work to do and no time to talk. I found this dismissive behavior quite strange, until Hailari explained to me that the High Chamberlain didn’t like sluggish workers and was quick to punish even small violations of his rules severely. That didn’t seem like an ideal working atmosphere to me, but on the other hand the Matoran’s living standards on Destral seemed to be pretty high, comparable to the better parts of Metru Nui even, from what Hailari told me.

Passing through the building that connected the Tower of Fabrication to the main lab complex, we finally reached one of the training yards – big enough to accommodate several hundred beings, and at the moment filled to about a quarter of its capacity. Several mercenaries were busy honing their skills is sparring matches or practicing techniques under the watchful eyes of their squad leaders. An obstacle course ran along the edge of the training yard and a few mercenaries – and even Toa Hagah – could be seen absolving it.

One area seemed to be reserved for use by the Toa Hagah, and it was a group of a little more than a dozen of them we approached there. Hailari immediately was greeted from all sides, obviously well-liked and greatly respected, but soon the Toa noticed me. Admittedly I was a little overwhelmed being suddenly the center of attention of such a large group of heroes, and just about managed to mumble a greeting. Hailari introduced me, and to my astonishment a Toa of Earth even recognized my name! He said his name was Dahkingu and before the Prosecution he had lived in the south of the Tren Krom Peninsula. Apparently I had saved the life of a friend of his who had been attacked by a Rahi. I couldn’t recall the occasion – Rahi attacks are too common on the Peninsula and a healer spends a lot of his time treating Rahi wounds there – but he didn’t seem to mind. Nonetheless I of course replied that I was happy that I had been able to help back then.

The conversation moved on after that. For a time I explained to a some of the Toa who showed interest in the topic how best to treat various wounds, then I listened to them talking about their latest missions. A Toa of Air was just complaining about his Makuta getting more erratic by the day when a few more Toa joined us. The ones who had been absolving the obstacle course, as I realized. One of them asked if they were late, but Toa Dahkingu told them it hadn’t started yet.

It was Hailari’s turn to ask what they were waiting for, to which a Toa of Ice replied that Makuta Sidoshi’s Hagah were going up against Makuta Icarax again. It seemed to be a big deal from what I gathered, so I asked why. They told me this Makuta Icarax probably was the most talented warrior within the Brotherhood, and that he liked going up against multiple Toa at once to give himself a challenge. The Hagah team of Sidoshi on the other hand was the largest Hagah team around and aside from the team of the Fist of Destral also the one with the most combat experience. Makuta Sidoshi’s team usually was in charge of taking care of any problems throughout the universe that couldn’t be taken care of with pure diplomacy, but also didn’t require the attention of the Brotherhood’s military. Not all of them would fight today, however, as some had other duties to attend to.

Dahkingu proceeded to explain the rules of this sparring match to me: Using powers of any kind was forbidden, as Icarax liked tests of pure martial skill. Blunted weapons would be used, but every fighter was allowed to pick their weapon. Ranged weapons were not allowed, however. The goal was to score a specified amount of hits on the opponent. As Icarax would be fighting alone the Toa would win if they scored ten hits. Icarax on the other hand only needed to hit each Toa three times before they were considered out of the fight. Since this Icarax wasn’t known to hold back it was likely that he took some of his opponents out far quicker simply by knocking them unconscious, however.

I noticed several of the Toa present wincing slightly at those last words.

In the meantime the sparring area where this training match would take place was filling up with spectators, mostly mercenaries, loudly betting on the outcome. Two isolated figures on the other end of it might even have been Makuta who came to watch.

Then suddenly the Toa made their entrance – seven in total, based on the color of their armor Toa of Earth, Ice, Plantlife, Stone, Fire, Air and Sonics. The Toa of Ice particularly drew my attention, although I couldn’t say why. Before I could think about it more, however, Makuta Icarax also stepped into the ring. He truly was an impressive sight – clad in black and crimson armor and towering over the Toa’s heads he looked every bit the fearless warrior, the bladed staff and the round shield strapped to his left forearm only adding to the impression. The Toa around me approvingly commented on how this equipment would be advantageous in this fight one against seven. Sidoshi’s Hagah on the other hand bore a number of different weapons which I won’t describe in detail here, but which ranged from a giant warhammer to a simple one-handed saber.

The Toa spread out before Icarax, then saluted him with their weapons, Icarax nodded in response – the signal for the fight to start. I had expected an explosion of movement, but all the combatants did was slowly edging towards each other, the Toa obviously trying to get around and then surround Icarax while he moved closer to the sparring area’s edge to prevent this. It took almost a minute before the Toa of Fire tried a swing – obviously only meant to test Icarax’s reaction as it fell way short, but before the Toa – or I, for that matter – could fully register it, Icarax had lunged forward, grabbed the Toa’s spear just behind the tip, pulled him close and delivered a savage kick that sent the Toa flying, nearly unmasking him as he slammed into the ground. Icarax had given the other Toa an opening now, however, and they were ready to use it. All around the sparring area beings now started shouting advise, warnings or were just cheering Icarax or the Toa on.

Icarax dodged the warhammer, let a sword glance off his his shield, brought it around just in time to parry the Toa of Earth’s saber-like weapon and whirled around his staff to keep the other Toa at bay. The Toa of Air somehow managed to slip under Icarax’s guard with a maneuver that brought even more cheers from the onlookers, however, scoring a hit against Icarax’s leg. Had it been a real weapon, the blow might have dealt a crippling injury if it had managed to indeed penetrate the armor. In this setting, however, the Makuta didn’t even stagger visibly, and the Toa of Air was simply seized by the Makuta and flung at his brothers, two others ending up in a heap with him. Icarax immediately used his chance, swinging his staff wide to keep the other Toa at bay and striking one in the shoulder in the process, then leaping over to the fallen Toa and with remorseless precision hammered the rim of his shield down on their heads, knocking two of them clean out before the third got his weapon free. Even then Icarax blow disarmed him, however, and surely the Makuta would have taken him out, too, had not the other four Toa demanded his attention, which left the Toa of Ice scrambling for his weapon.

Over the noise of the crowd I could hardly even hear the sounds of the fight anymore by this time. I had seen and heard enough in any case, however. As the fight moved away from the two unconscious Toa, a Toa of Gravity dragged them off the sparring area. I excused myself from Hailari – although I wasn’t sure if she heard me, she certainly was too focused on the fight to say anything in return – and went around the tightly packed crowd to where the Toa of Gravity had taken the fallen combatants. The Toa of Air had already regained consciousness and was sitting up when I reached them, but the Toa of Earth was still knocked out, a big dent in the side of his mask showing where Icarax had struck him with his shield. The Toa of Gravity was checking his heartlight and his head for any real injuries, obviously ignoring the Toa of Air’s complaints about how the rules should be modified to make a crippling blow a crippling blow. When he noticed me he stopped mid-rant, then after a pause dryly remarked that here was the first little one to give him their condolence.

I politely introduced myself as a Keto in service to Makuta Yandra, then offered to have a look at their injuries. The Toa of Gravity declined without even looking at me, turning the Toa of Earth’s head a little to the side, revealing a big lubricant leak just beyond the area of his face covered by his mask. I immediately went to get a closer look, despite the Toa of Gravity’s answer, but hadn’t taken two steps before a terrible weight suddenly pressed down on me and sent me to the ground, pressing my mask into the dust. Just as quickly as it had happened, the weight was gone again, however. The Toa of Air bent down over me, lifted me up and set me down on my feet again. He then gave me the advise that when Makashu said “No”, he meant “No”, and that they’d be fine so I’d best return to wherever I came from.

When I reached Hailari again, the fight was mostly over. Icarax was trading blows too fast to follow with the Toa of Stone and the Toa of Sonics who had been unmasked, the other Toa apparently were already out of the fight. It didn’t take long for the Toa of Sonics to fall – in this case he was knocked into a group of onlooking mercenaries hastily scrambling out of the way by a shield blow of Icarax’. The Toa of Stone held his own for a little while longer, but then Icarax disarmed him and with an unnecessary powerful blow to the head felled him like a tree.

In the clamor and cheers following the end of the fight I never learned how many blows the Toa actually got in, but it was Hailari anyway, who drew my focus. Bending down and shouting to make herself heard over the noise, she asked me where I’d been. In response I only pointed towards the group of defeated Toa, Makashu now also caring for the Toa of Stone, the Toa of Earth to my relief also back on his feet by now.

Hailari looked left and right, but the other Toa were still too occupied by talking about the match, so she grabbed my hand and dragged me towards a quieter place of the training yard. I was almost sure she was taking her duty of staying with me so serious that I was in for a scolding, but instead she just lowered her voice and told me to stay away from those Toa. When I asked her why, she just said that they had a bad reputation. Some had even compared them to Dark Hunters from time to time. Now she definitely had my interest, though, as I couldn’t imagine why such Toa would be picked by the Brotherhood of Makuta to receive the honor of becoming Toa Hagah. Remembering what no doubt had been a use of the element of Gravity against myself I could certainly see the truth in Hailari’s words, however.

I asked Hailari why these Toa were like this, but she only shrugged and explained that the Prosecution took a toll even in some of those who survived it. She wouldn’t say more on the topic, instead asking me if I wanted to see the library’s artifact museum. I happily agreed to that, glad to leave the noisy training yard behind, but also for the first time in my life secretly glad to put some distance between myself and a Toa, although Hailari’s last words nagged on me. What things did they witness during the Prosecution that several Toa would turn away from the ideals all Toa valued?


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