Recount of a Trip to Destral: Part V - Artifacts and Bureaucracy

Updated: Mar 24

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

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

The artifact museum turned out to be located in the building connecting the Library Tower to the Inner Ring. Since this complex didn’t only house the museum, but also the main index for the library, however, everything felt a bit crowded compared to the Metru Nui Archives.

The entrance to the museum was just in front of a set of huge double doors leading into the library, flanked by two motionless Exo-Toa. Hailari told me entry to the library was strictly regulated and one needed special permission from either the High Chamberlain or the Head Librarian to enter. The artifact museum was public, however – or as public as anything on Destral could be. Still, hardly anyone ever visited it.

That it obviously was neglected not only by most visitors immediately became apparent as we stepped into a long room that was positively stuffed with showcases of all sizes. Some were stacked atop each other, others were blocking the passageways and everything was covered in a thick sheet of dust. One case had even cracked under the weight of several others and the remaining pile was leaning dangerously outwards. I also soon understood why access to this collection wasn’t restricted. Of course, I hadn’t expected to find the legendary Mask of Creation here, but it was clear this so-called artifact museum didn’t contain anything of particular value. One showcase held a splintered mace that supposedly had been wielded by one of the Barraki, another one a real Toa Stone – although its power had been tapped already. There was a collection of different forms of metallic Protodermis – some with colors I had never seen before – and a set of small stasis tubes holding different insect Rahi. For some reason there even was an empty Rahkshi armor standing in one corner, as if anyone visiting Destral would not be familiar with these creatures.

All in all this first room didn’t hold anything of particular interest to me, so soon we climbed up the stairs to the second story. On the way, I asked Hailari if she believed that the mace we had seen really once belonged to one of the Barraki. She told me it was certainly possible and that tales told by other Toa about the defeat of the League of Six Kingdoms often mentioned that the ruler of the Layamat wielded one. As she herself had fought against the Ursare’s forces, she couldn’t really say more about it, however. Intrigued, I asked Hailari if she herself had seen any of the six warlords, but she shook her head. She described the Ursare are a very alien species, so they had all looked more or less the same to her in the heat of battle. It had been impossible to tell if one of those giving commands wasn’t just some minor commander but in fact their Barraki. Then, after the battle, when the Barraki were brought before the Makuta, she had been busy taking care of the wounded of both sides.

The second floor of the artifact museum mostly held different carvings and statues from all over the universe, a few ones supposedly saved from Barraki fortresses since razed to the ground. On the fourth floor, there was an impressive amount of stasis tubes with all kinds of Rahi in them – ones that were never spread in the universe, if the descriptions were correct. In some cases I certainly was very glad of this fact, wondering why some of these monstrosities were created in the first place.

The most time I ended up spending on the third floor, however, which to my great delight was almost exclusively taken up by a herbarium! I can’t go into detail here, but someone obviously had spent a great deal of their time to collect, preserve, sort and describe nearly every plant in the universe, among them several I hadn’t even heard of.

I did wonder aloud what a herbarium was doing in an artifact museum, to which Hailari replied that it just started out as one and no one ever renamed it, which just showed how much the whole facility was neglected. Indeed, the most recent plant samples appeared to be about 10,000 years old at that point, most of them collected by a certain Wanitama, although I never heard of him.

It took several hours until I could finally detach myself from this highly intriguing material, wishing that I had a few weeks, or better even, years, to study all of the botanical information gathered in this room properly. I could tell that Hailari, by comparison, was rather bored than thrilled, however, so I felt I shouldn’t steal more of her time, after all, I had only been able to visit this place at all because she volunteered to accompany me and suggested it. In addition, the light from outside started growing dimmer, so I figured I best should get back to my Mistress’ quarters, check after Visca and then get a little more sleep for the next marathon session Makuta Yantra no doubt already had planned for us.

After we had reached my Makuta's quarters, I thanked Hailari for her time and bid her farewell. She apologized for lacking the interests of a scholar but added that it had been refreshing to be able to spend her time on something else than training or guard duty.

Visca was fast asleep when I entered the room we shared, but his heartlight shone brightly and steadily which told me he would be fine by the next morning.

Of Makuta Yantra there was no sign, nor had she left any orders. I spent another hour or two leafing through the tablets of her personal library – mostly works on chemistry and botany, but nothing special apart from a few notes added here and there by Makuta Yantra herself. Eventually, I stumbled across what seemed a formula for how to create the Rahi known as Frost Moths, but apart from the process requiring a container with liquid protodermis the instructions didn’t make much sense to me, so I let it be and went to sleep myself.

Makuta Yantra woke the two of us at dawn on the next day. Visca seemed to have indeed recovered well and was his usual energetic self again. After two full nights of sleep I, too, was ready to tackle whatever our Makuta had in mind next. She surprised me, though, when she declared that she only needed Visca in the lab for the following days and that I would be given a different task – updating the library’s records with our recent discoveries. Naturally, I was delighted! Updating any texts meant I would have to get access to Destral’s library to be able to check older records – and surely there would be an opportunity to browse a bit more than just the texts I had to edit.

Visca was a little disappointed that in addition to missing my sightseeing tour the last day he wouldn’t even be able to take a look at the library, but I could lighten his mood by pointing out that him being picked specifically to assist our Mistress in the lab indicated how much she valued his skills. Indeed, the accident from the last day with the Bonu Cefatu might have given the reader of this text a bit of a misleading impression of Visca’s skills. Accidents can always happen, even to the best of scientists. The truth is that Visca was by far my superior when it came to more complex chemistry, not to mention his seemingly boundless energy and motivation. Makuta Yantra knew exactly why she once chose him as her permanent assistant and stuck with him ever since.

We left Visca in the lab to start setting up the next experiment, then my Mistress and I continued on to Destral’s Tower of Administration, as I needed special permission to be allowed into the library. Makuta Yantra told me upon my inquiries that normally it would be the Head Librarian who would give this permission, but since he currently was away from Destral, we had to visit the High Chamberlain’s office. While I had no desire to meet this particular Makuta again, and highly doubted he’d give me permission to enter the Brotherhood’s primary vault of knowledge, I had no choice but to trust in my Makuta knowing what she was doing and tag along.

To reach the Tower of Administration, we had to travel almost the entire length of the fortress. Outwardly not looking much different from the other great towers, the Tower of Administration quickly turned out to be one of the busiest as we drew near. Clerks, servants and foreign dignitaries swarmed the place under the watchful gaze of a few mercenaries and Toa Hagah, supplemented by Exo-Toa at what seemed like every second doorway. No doubt due to the official function of this part of the fortress, the decor also differed from the rather drab combination of weapons, banners and Rahkshi statues I had seen so far. Everything was still constructed from the same black stone, but the floor in the main hallways was decorated with large mosaics in the colors of the Brotherhood. Interesting constructions of mirrors on the ceiling spread the light from the lightstones on the walls evenly into every corner, although the whole setup seemed a little more complicated than necessary to me.

The labyrinthine setup of the hallways and offices made it quite challenging to keep up with my Makuta while dodging clerks and taking in the surroundings. I thought I saw Toa Dahkingu at one point, but before I could greet him a Vortixx who was obviously in a hurry nearly ran me over. Shortly after that, Makuta Yantra had to drag me out of the way of a distracted Steltian who also wasn’t looking at his feet. All the activity in this building hardly gave the impression of the reclusive organization as which the Brotherhood of Makuta is known.

Eventually, after we had climbed up a few stories, the activity finally became less and more orderly. Makuta Yantra led me down another hallway with only a few doors leading off from it, where about a dozen beings of different races were waiting in front of a set of double doors guarded by a Toa Hagah. The doors were plain except for large mirrors set into them and the engraved letters that marked the room beyond as the High Chamberlain’s office.

One of the two Ihidauri at the front of the queue started to protest as Makuta Yantra simply went past him and made to open the door, but he stopped in mid-sentence when the Toa Hagah saluted and greeted my Makuta with her title.

The room beyond the doors was surprisingly large, taking up at least a quarter of the floor’s space. It was mostly taken up by row after row of shelves filled with stone tablets. Interestingly enough, it seemed like a pair of Toa were working here. One, a Toa of Iron, was currently talking to what I assumed to be a delegation from Versuva, while a Toa of Lightning was sorting stone tablets into the shelves.

Makuta Yantra went straight over to the latter, telling the Toa that I needed permission to enter the library. The Toa seemed surprised by this request, as she told us we had to see the Head Librarian about that. My Makuta told her the Head Librarian was currently not on Destral, but the Toa responded that he had returned just a few hours ago. Makuta Yantra looked a little annoyed at hearing that. She asked the Toa if she couldn’t just give me the permission anyway. The Toa stayed adamant, however, telling us firmly but politely that the High Chamberlain wouldn’t tolerate her doing that. Since Yantra was a Makuta herself, she had the right to take the matter directly to him, though.

I thought I heard my Makuta curse bureaucracy under her breath and was sure she would indeed simply march through the door on the far side of the room that must have led into the High Chamberlain’s private office. She must have figured that it would be a futile effort, however, for instead she tightly grabbed my shoulder and the room around me suddenly started distorting.

Before I could really register what was going on, I found myself back in the laboratory complex where I had to lean against a wall for a second until the vertigo faded. My Makuta, by comparison, seemed unfazed by the teleport, but then it was one of her powers and she likely was used to it.

A little distance off, a Makuta in red armor and a Toa of Psionics had paused talking to stare at us but now resumed their discussion. Otherwise, the corridor was empty apart from the ever-present Rahkshi statues in this complex.

Makuta Yantra didn’t waste any time, turned to the door right next to us and knocked. We waited for several moments, then my Makuta raised her hand to try it again, but just at that moment, the door was opened by a disgruntled-looking Makuta in black and lime green armor – the Head Librarian, as it turned out. Whatever he had meant to say originally to an unwelcome visitor, he swallowed it as he recognized my Makuta. Still, he didn’t seem too enthusiastic about inviting us in, but eventually relented – not before telling me not to touch anything, though.

The Head Librarian – or Tak, as my Makuta called him – had a lab that didn’t differ too much from the one Visca and I had worked in. It seemed the same size and had the same general layout with Rahi vats on the inner wall and some machinery opposite them below the windows. While Makuta Yantra’s lab had been stuffed with alchemical equipment, the Head Librarian seemed to prefer Rahi, however. There were several additional Rahi vats of all sizes – some occupied – as well as a large dissection table – also occupied, by what looked like various parts of a Spiny Stone Ape. A row of shelves on the eastern wall contained small protodermis containers filled with parts of Rahi. Apparently this Makuta Tak was an anatomist.

Since Tak made it clear he was busy, Makuta Yantra cut straight to the matter that brought us here – that I needed permission for the library. He asked if we couldn’t go bother the Chamberlain’s office with that, but my Makuta wouldn’t budge. Eventually, he resigned and walked over to a cupboard, pulling out a drawer that contained an assortment of strange vials containing what looked like – for lack of a better description – liquid lightning. I only learned later that in fact, these were samples of the mysterious viruses the Makuta use, among other things, for Rahi creation.

Tak asked how long I needed access to the library and my Makuta told him that three days would likely be enough. I heard him mumble that he’d better make it four so we didn’t bother him again, then.

He selected one of the vials which to me looked exactly like all the others – all of them unlabeled, from what I could tell – grabbed a syringe from a nearby table and set the vial into it. I didn’t understand what any of this had to do with giving me permission for the library, so it was pretty unexpected when he suddenly rammed the needle into the organic tissue near my neck and injected about a third of the contents of the vial into me. Before I could react, he was finished, threw the syringe onto the table, grabbed some kind of tablet from a pile and pressed my hand onto it. I didn’t feel any different and nothing visible happened, but after studying the tablet for a moment, the Head Librarian seemed satisfied. He told me to go bother the library’s personnel if I needed anything else, then made it clear that he expected us to be gone from his laboratory.

On the way to the library Makuta Yantra explained to me what just happened – the virus I had been injected would make the guards and defenses of the library recognize me for a set amount of time. It would only give me access to the tower, however, not the basements that held the more valuable items and texts, so for my own safety, I shouldn’t try gaining access. Handing me a scroll with instructions and telling me to turn to the clerks for everything else, she then left me at the corridor leading to the Library Tower.


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