Trell waved goodbye as he left his friend's house. The wooden door clicked behind him as he turned to head home.
The suns were setting in the west, casting its pastel pigments on the eastern mountains. The snowy peaks glowed in shades of pink and orange so vivid, they made Trell stop and stare for a few moments.
"I could never grow tired of this," said the Ko-Matoran. He watched as the shadow of night crept up the mountains, and just as they became engulfed in twilight, the tallest peak shone with the radiance of a hundred stars.
He sighed as he continued on his way home. Under his arm, he carried a small box, covered in white and black squares. As he walked, a faint clattering could be heard emanating from the box. It was a chehs game.
He thought back over the day as he shifted the weight in his arms. Today being both their day off of work, Trell had figured this would be the perfect time to teach his friend Zorkek how to play chehs, a strategy game that he adored. They had gotten through three games over the course of the day. Trell had won the first two, but Zorkek had gotten lucky and beaten him the last time."
"Beginner's luck," he thought as he turned a corner. "I'll beat him next time."
As he continued on his way home, he passed a dark alleyway. Too late, he saw a pair of arms reaching out towards him. One hand clasped over his mouth as the other arm wrapped around him waist. He was pulled back into the alley, barely managing to hold onto his chehs board.
The arms pulled him up against a strong armored body, and he was rushed further into the dark. After a few moments, he was set down on a wooden crate, but the arms continued to hold onto him.
"Listen carefully," said a voice behind him. "I don't want to hurt you, but if you go running out into the street when I let you go, I'll have to. Alright?"
Trell nodded, trying not to shake in fear.
"Okay," said the voice.
The hands slowly removed themselves from his body. Trell turned around to see his kidnapper, but his face and most of his body were hidden by a long cloak.
"Listen," said the figure, "All I need is information. If you can supply it to me, I'll let you go."
"And if not?" asked Trell.
"If not " The figure reached into his cloak and pulled out a bow, an arrow notched in the string.
"If you really don't know, then I'll let you go, but," he pulled the string taunt, "if you try to be difficult, well "
Trell gulped. "O...okay then," he stammered, "what do you need t...to know?"
The figure replied, "A group of Toa passed through this city. They're my friends, and I need to know where they went."
Trell thought for a moment, trying to keep the fear off his face. "I think I might have seen some foreign Toa a few days ago, but I couldn't tell you where they went."
The figure kneeled in front of him, and though he could not see his eyes, he could practically feel them, boring into his skull.
Finally, the figure stood up and sighed. His grasp on his bow slacked as his head drooped in disappointment.
"Thank you, friend," he said, his voice heavy. He sat down on another crate, "you can go now."
Trell moved to leave, but something stopped him. Somehow, he felt like this being had grabbed him out of desperation, not out of any misplaced motives. He turned and looked the figure up and down. Though he could not see much, due to the cloak, he could tell this was no warrior. Trell had met many warriors in his time, and none of them had ever seemed this distraught. As hard as it was for him to believe it himself, he felt pity towards this being.
The being looked up at him. "Well, what are you waiting for?" he asked. "Don't you have somewhere to be?"
"Actually, no, I don't," said Trell. "I just well, it's not every day you get kidnapped by someone who just lets you go."
The being sighed, "Yes, I do apologize for that. I was afraid that if I had just come up and asked you, that you'd just run off."
"And why's that?"
"Do you really want to know?"
"Why not? I promise I won't run away."
The being just sat there for a moment. Finally, he reached up and removed his hood. Underneath, a white armored head glistened in the starlight. A pair of orange eyes glowed on a face that spoke of terrible loss. But that's not what shocked Trell the most. At first, he just stared at the being before him.
The being turned toward Trell. "Yes, I'm a Skakdi. Go ahead, run, scream, get a Toa, lock me up. Ugh," he rested his head on his hands, "I hate myself."
"Whoa, whoa, hold on. I said I wouldn't run, didn't I? And even if I hadn't, why would I? You haven't exactly done anything to me."
The Skakdi turned to the Matoran. "Right, Ko-Matoran, always the logical ones."
Trell smiled. "By the way," he said, extending his fist, "I'm Trell."
The Skakdi returned the gesture and replied, "I'm Cedrak."
"Okay, the coast is clear," said Trell, as he beckoned for Cedrak to follow. The two beings made their way down the cobblestoned street. The wooden homes and shops they passed were silent at this hour, as most everyone was asleep. Occasionally, they would come across a lit window and go around it so as to stay out of the light.
"Are you sure about this?" said Cedrak. "I don't want to be the reason you get in trouble."
"Don't be ridiculous," Trell replied. "I can't just leave you out here in the cold."
They stopped as Trell peered around the next corner.
"Okay," he said, "just two more blocks and we're home."
"Halt!" called a voice behind them. Trell turned to see a Toa approaching. "Oh boy," he thought.
"Oh, hello Toa," said Trell, his voice catching slightly.
"And what are you doing out this fine evening, my friend?" asked the Fire Toa, a hint of sarcasm on his voice.
"I, uh, I spent the day at a friend's house and didn't see how late it was," Trell replied. "Does he not see the Skakdi standing next to me?" he wondered.
"Well, I'll let you off with a warning this time," said the Toa. "Just be sure to have a lightstone with you next time you're out after dark." The Fire Toa turned on his heel and continued marching down the street.
Trell breathed a sigh of relief. He turned to Cedrak and saw he was gone. He looked around wildly, trying to find his companion, when he felt a hand on his shoulder.
Trell yelped as he jumped to one side.
"Oh, sorry," said a voice. The air beside him began to coalesce, and Cedrak, wrapped in his cloak, became visible.
"How..." Trell began.
Cedrak answered the understood question. "The cloak allows me to turn invisible."
"Where did you get that?"
"It was a gift."
"From who?" asked Trell, intrigued by the unusual cloth.
"I'll tell you later. Let's go before anyone else shows up."
The two beings followed the road for a few more blocks. Trell stopped in front of a particular house.
"Here it is," he said, as he opened the front gate, "home sweet home."
Though it was dark, Cedrak could make out a few details about the Matoran's front yard. A cobblestone path led from the front gate to the door of the home, and on both sides, a small yard of well-kept grass reached around the house. A few plants grew in a small garden bed on the left side of the path.
Trell led him up to the front door and pulled a key from his pack. He unlocked the door and entered the house; Cedrak had to bend over to fit through.
As he closed the door, Cedrak heard Trell feeling around on the table next to the entrance. As Trell pulled the cover off a lightstone, Cedrak stood still for a moment, blinking as the light flooded into his eyes. However, they soon adjusted to the light.
At the back of the room, he could see Trell stocking his fireplace. A pair of padded chairs and a small table stood facing the fireplace. On the right side of the room, Cedrak could see a staircase, leading, no doubt, to a second story. On the left side of the room, there was a door.
Trell motioned for Cedrak to sit down as he said, "Let me get you something warm to drink."
As Trell went out the side door, Cedrak hung his cloak on the back of the chair and sat down. He had just settled in when he heard a noise behind him. He got up to investigate, but then realized that the noise was coming from his cloak.
He shook his head as he removed a small box from his cloak's pocket. "I almost forgot about you," he said.
"Forgot about who?" asked Trell, emerging from the next room, which now revealed itself to be the kitchen. In his hands, he held two mugs that emitted thin wisps of steam.
"I probably should have told you this earlier, but, uh, I brought someone else with me."
Trell set the mugs down and looked at his friend questioningly. "And he's in the box?" he asked.
"Yes, well, see for yourself."
He handed the box to Trell, who opened it cautiously. Inside, a Brakas monkey lay sleeping, yawning every so often as he shifted in his sleep.
"Aw, he's cute," said Trell. "What's his name?"
"I call him Tahlis," said Cedrak as he removed his pet from the box. "I found him injured one time, and after healing him, he stuck around with me."
"How'd you get him to stay asleep for so long?"
"I drugged him." When Cedrak saw the look on Trell's face, he said, "Yeah, I know a bit about herbs and such. Someone...taught me."
Sensing that he should probably not push the issue any further, Trell handed Cedrak his mug. "I'm afraid I don't have a bed your size," he said.
"This chair will work just fine," said Cedrak. "You should probably close the shutters, though."
"Good idea." Trell moved to the windows and latched the shutters in place. He turned to his friend. "You must be pretty tired, so I'll let you rest. We can look for your friends tomorrow."
"Thanks for letting me stay, Trell," said Cedrak. The Ko-Matoran nodded as he walked up the stairs.
Cedrak sat down once more and turned towards the fire, his face again drawn with unease. He stroked Tahlis' back as he stared into the flames.
"Yes," he murmured, "we'll look for my friends."