A/N

Have changed the end of chapter 14


Rising on the thermal she'd located, the Turaga Hordika scanned the desert below with delight at the view then her eyes narrowed as she spotted a pool of water. Spiralling downwards, watching cautiously for any hint of danger, she then landed a couple of bio from the edge of the water and peered at the rahi resting close by.

xXx

"Uhh? Wani what's up?" Kokua mumbled as the agitated rahi had not only pulled the blankets from her but was now nibbling at her fingers in his attempts to quietly waken her. Rubbing her eyes as she sat up, the Torahka glanced around the cavern. As her gaze fell on where Kualus still slept, she tensed on realizing just what Wanimua had been trying to tell her.

Getting up she followed the pheasant rahi outside then turned to him, "Where is she?" in reply Wanimua took off and circled around before soaring a short way in the direction he'd seen Anuenue take. Nodding her understanding, the Torahka ducked back into the cavern to leave a note for her friends before grabbing a bag into which she hastily stuffed some food and a water canister before hurrying to rejoin the anxious rahi.

Spreading their wings, the pair took off, Wanimua leading the way as they hunted for the missing Turaga Hordika.

xXx

Blinking in surprise at the sight of the rainbow hued Turaga Hordika watching them, the Kikanalo chief rumbled soothingly when she cautiously took a step in the herds' direction, *What brings you out here rainbow wise one?* the matriarch rumbled as Anuenue slowly drew closer, wings still indicating her uncertainty about the massive rahi.

A puzzled chirp came from her as she folded her wings back then twitched when the calf trotted over to greet her, *Have you seen my lifemate?* she finally chirped, scratching the calf's head as he nudged her. When the Kikanalo shook their heads the Turaga Hordika chirped sadly, her wings drooping as she took another look around the area then crouched and sprang into the air, circled once around it and headed south-eastwards. *She doesn't remember* the chief rumbled softly before they glanced around as Wanimua's trill reached them and watched as he and the Torahka approached the area.

Unaware of those looking for her, Turaga Hordika Anuenue swiftly left the area where the Kikanalo were far behind, searching for the next pool of water and the chance that her lifemate was waiting there for her.

xXx

Sitting back on her haunches, Sile glanced at her lifemate and friend, "If she's looking for you, then there is hope yet that you can bring her back to herself." she purred before jumping in surprise as Rhya Nui appeared beside her.

The dusky Great Spirit watched the Turaga Hordika's movements, "Turaga Nuju, please switch to your Mahiki." she then asked. Puzzled the icy spirit did as he'd been asked then blinked in surprise as she placed a hand on his mask and it glowed brightly for several moments.

Lowering her hand, the dusky Great Spirit smiled,"I've imprinted it with the image you'll need to gain her attention. And as she will be expecting you to fly up to greet her, you will also have that ability once your mask is activated." she chuckled at the expression on Turaga Nuju's mask. "Appear at the pool Anuenue's heading towards and when you see her approaching, use your Mahiki." she added, gesturing to the sphere and changing the image to show where the Turaga Hordika was heading.

With a bow, Turaga Nuju vanished from the flowered meadow and as his friends watched appeared and looked around at his surroundings before glancing upwards and nodded.

xXx

Soaring through the sky, Anuenue revelled in the sensation of the wind flowing over her wings and spun in the sheer joy of flight before twitching as she noticed the Nivawk soaring close by. Pausing to hover, the Turaga Hordika watched as the Nivawk shifted its wings so that it could circle around her. Her eyes narrowed as she realized this Nivawk was a male and he was interested in her as a mate.

Hissing her displeasure, Anuenue dipped her wings and sped off, intending to leave her unwanted suitor behind, then screeched her anger as the Nivawk swooped around and tried to cut across her flightpath to force her downwards.

Replying to the brightly coloured female's screech, the Nivawk called back at her, having mistaken her annoyance for interest and began his display flight, ducking and weaving around her as she tried to evade his advances.

Scanning the skies for any sign of his closefriend, Turaga Nuju shielded his eyes as a flash of colour caught his gaze before a startled curse left his mouth. Switching to his Mahiki, the icy spirit activated it and watched as he took on the appearance imprinted by the dusky Great Spirit. "Impressive." he murmured before launching himself into the air and cautiously headed for where Anuenue was dodging her unwanted admirer, his confidence growing with each wing-beat.

Ducking under the latest attempt by the amorous Nivawk to get her to come with him, Anuenue caught a glimpse of her lifemate approaching and trilled with relief at his timely arrival, before turning to lash out at the Nivawk. Startled by the female's reaction, the male squawked then hissed in anger, she was going to be his female he'd decided, so he lunged for her intending to snatch out several flight feathers.

Before he could accomplish that, another deeper screech rang out and he was buffeted from his course as another brightly coloured hawk cut across the thermal he'd been using to try and gain height over the female. Turning to face the pair as the other male hovered beside the female, whom to the Nivawk's outrage, cooed at the newcomer before glaring at him.

The Nivawk hissed in anger sizing up his rival and fluffing up his feathers in an attempt to intimidate him. Instead it had the opposite effect, the male seemed to double in size and hissed in reply as the female flexed her talons, their eyes glowing with anger.

Deciding that he'd rather live than get ripped to shreds by the pair, the Nivawk tilted his wings and circled downwards, indicating to them that he'd finally accepted defeat where the female was concerned.

Watching as the Nivawk flew away, Nuju smiled then squawked as Anuenue trilled with delight and caught his hands before using her momentum to spin them around. Wings flaring to prevent himself from getting dizzy, Nuju chirruped at the joy in his closefriend's eyes as she chirped to him.

For several minutes they spun across the sky, then Anuenue began to dart around her closefriend. Sensing that she was displaying for him, Nuju was quick to repeat her movements and improvise on them until the pair were moving in synchronised harmony.

Just as Nuju felt his wings beginning to ache, Anuenue drifted down towards the pool where he'd been waiting her hand now tightly clutching his. "I should have run out of energy by now." he mused as he landed lightly beside Anuenue, whom promptly hugged him tightly as she delicately preened his neck feathers while softly cooing at him.

xXx

Taking off from where they met the Kikanalo herd, Kokua and Wanimua were heading in the direction the chief had indicated to them, their concern for their friend growing as the minutes past. They were roughly halfway between the oases when Wanimua chirped as they spotted a Nivawk soaring nearby. Trilling a question, the pheasant rahi was unprepared for the angered hissing reply he got before the annoyed Nivawk changed direction and swiftly flew out of sight. "I'm guessing he's run into Anuenue. That means we're going in the right direction." the Torahka commented, a brief smile appearing when Wanimua chirruped smugly.

For a few more minutes they continued in the direction which the Nivawk had appeared from then Kokua paused as the dusky Great Spirit whispered to her. Once Rhya's presence withdrew the Torahka chuckled as Wanimua trilled curiously at her, "We'd better walk from here, mother says that Nuju's got his hands full and the last thing we need to do is spook Anuenue." In reply, the pheasant rahi began spiralling down to the desert, Kokua joining him as she quietly whispered a prayer to the Great Beings that they'd get her rainbow hued sister back.

While they began walking towards the next oasis, Anuenue sighed and lent against her lifemate as he slid his arm around her waist and she began peering around their surroundings, seeking a place for a nest. *Beloved, we need to return to the healing rahi's cavern* Nuju chirped when she moved to begin examining some moss draped over the branches of the nearby trees. Looking at him in surprise, Anuenue chirped enquiringly, wondering if he was unwell, then dropped the moss she'd collected and moved to begin carefully examining her lifemate's feathers until he caught her hands and squeezed them gently.

xXx

Watching from the spirit realm, Rhya swore under her breath then vanished from where she was sitting, leaving Turaga Vakama and Sile glancing anxiously at each other before turning their attention back to the viewing sphere.

xXx

Stepping from behind some boulders as Kokua and Wanimua approached them, the dusky Great Spirit beckoned the surprised pair over, "There's a change of plans, Nuju's trying to coax Anuenue into flying back to Keetongu's cavern. So I'll wait with you until we know if he's succeeded." she explained as they moved into the shade cast by the overhanging rock. Sitting on a smaller boulder, Kokua offered Rhya her water canister while Wanimua took an impromptu dust bath before offering to do a fly past the oasis where Turaga Nuju and Anuenue were. "It's a kind offer Wani, but this is safer." the dusky Great Spirit replied, spreading her hands as a glowing sphere appeared in her palms. Shifting closer, he and Kokua watched the image it showed, both hoping their friend would come back to them.

xXx

*It is you I'm concerned about* Nuju chirruped to Anuenue when she trilled in confusion, tilting her head to one side as she watched her lifemate. Before he could say anything else a huge yawn escaped him and he felt his eyes beginning to close as his energy finally ran out.

Pulling her lifemate into her arms, the Turaga Hordika crooned as his head came to rest on her shoulder as he lost the fight to keep awake.

Singing to her sleeping lifemate, Anuenue gazed around the oasis keeping watch for any possible threats while admiring the place he's chosen for their nest site.

She'd just spotted a good location for the nest when a shimmer appeared around Nuju and he began to fade into the glowing light despite her attempts to hold onto him. As the last traces of the glowing light faded, Turaga Hordika Anuenue's screams of loss echoed around the oasis and she hurtled into the sky desperately seeking any sign that her lifemate was nearby.

On returning to land near where she and Nuju had been nestled together, the Turaga Hordika began ripping at her arms and the flight feathers from her wings, a continuous crooning moan coming from her throat as she mourned for her mate.

xXx

The muffled thud of the sphere landing on the ground startled Kokua and Wanimua from their horrified positions as Rhya Nui vanished. Hesitantly picking it up, the Torahka held it so that the pheasant rahi could watch with her and they shivered, watching helplessly as Anuenue continued to rip her feathers out. Both yelped when the dusky Great Spirit appeared behind the Turaga Hordika and wrapped her arms around her, preventing her from causing herself further harm. Trilling sadly as he watched, Wanimua shivered then glanced up at Kokua when she reached out to scratch his crest, tears running down her face as she watched as Anuenue struggled helplessly in Rhya's arms.

xXx

With a final heart-rending cry, the Turaga Hordika fell silent and hung limply in the dusky Great Spirit's arms, the bright colours of her feathers dulled to ashen grey. Shifting her grip, Rhya Nui gently brushed a hand over Anuenue's bowed head and willed her to sleep before scooping up her limp form, "Brother I will need your help." she called before telling Kokua to rejoin her at Keetongu's cavern.

xXx

Having been alerted by Aikane's shadow twin, Keetongu and Notegeku watched as the Great Spirits appeared, Rhya moving to placed Anuenue on the moss bed prepared by Kualus and Aikane, before glancing up at the healing rahi. Silently Keetongu passed Naneki to his mate then moved to crouch beside her, his eye widening on seeing the damage the Turaga Hordika had inflicted on herself, "She'll have lost the will to live. We'll need to help her rediscover it." Mata Nui quietly said as the golden healing rahi began to carefully bathe the scratches and raw patches on Anuenue's forearms and wings.

Roughly half an hour later, wing-beats announced the return of Kokua and Wanimua and they hurried into the shady cavern sighing in relief from being out from the midday heat, before looking anxiously over to where their friend lay. Kokua bit her lip as she watched the Great Spirits and Keetongu whisper to each other as he continued treating her injuries, "We can't cure her without her choosing to be cured." Notegeku whispered to the anxious Torahka, Naneki and Keliana clinging tightly to their dam's fur as they too watched their sire's actions. On hearing this statement, Aikane paled at the thought of losing her sister and blindly reached out to catch Kokua's hand.

...

Everyone in the cavern froze when a low chirp escaped Anuenue as she regained consciousness and slowly opened her eyes. As they watched anxiously, her gaze eventually focused on that of the dusky Great Spirit and she flinched away from her when Rhya moved closer and reached out to place a comforting hand on her bandaged arm. Lowering her hand, Rhya sighed, glancing at Mata Nui whom nodded then she began to softly hum, beckoning Kokua to join them.

When she knelt beside where Anuenue lay, the Turaga Hordika blinked at her before giving a tentative cheep as her hand twitched towards Kokua's wing as it brushed against the bed. For a fleeting moment, the Torahka thought her normally rainbow hued sister had recognized her and struggled to hide her sorrow when the Turaga Hordika seemed to fold in on herself, shifting a wing to hide her face from those watching her. "Sing with me daughter, it may yet help." Rhya Nui whispered to Kokua, squeezing her hand comfortingly as she knelt beside the bed, before picking up her melody again.

xXx

'Nue, no...not yet!" the yell from Turaga Nuju's spirit as he regained consciousness and scrambled to his feet and stared around at his surroundings startled Vakama and Sile from their vigil by the sphere. Slumping to the ground, he stared helplessly at the viewing sphere, wincing as Anuenue hid her face from their friends, "I've not enough energy to reappear to her." Vakama and Sile heard him whisper as they tried to comfort the icy spirit.

They were not the only ones whom heard Turaga Nuju's sorrow-filled comment, the sphere showed the Great Spirit look up from reassuring his daughter and his eyes flashed briefly.

A startled yelp came from the gryphon Hordika as a blue glow suddenly surrounded the trio before winking out, taking them with it.

Staggering as she regained her balance, Sile gave a surprised chirp as she stared around the cavern while Nuju and Vakama wasted no time joining those around the bed the Turaga Hordika rested on. Glancing at Rhya Nui and Kokua as they sang to Anuenue, the Turaga of Ice nodded when the dusky Great Spirit glanced at him. Switching back to his Mahiki, Nuju resumed the Turaga Hordika form before gently stroking his closefriend's wing and softly chirruped to her.

The effect made those watching jump, as Anuenue's wing suddenly pulled back and she stared at Nuju before tentatively reaching out to him. *You vanished...why?* she chirped as he took her hand. Mata Nui tapped Rhya's shoulder and gestured that they, Keetongu and Kokua should move away to give Nuju some space.

Perching on the edge of the bed, Nuju sighed as his wild closefriend watched his every move, her anxious gaze showing that she wondered if he would vanish as he'd done before. Curving his wings around them, Nuju gently caught her hands and squeezed them before managing a smile, *Love, I am always with you, it's just that I've fulfilled my destiny*

*But...but you're here, I c-can touch you* Anuenue chirped, rubbing his hand against her cheek, now oblivious to those silently hoping she'd remember who she really was.

As quiet chirps and trills came from where Anuenue and Nuju were, Notegeku and Keetongu shared a glance before the dark green/gold healing rahi placed Naneki and Keliana in Aikane and Kokua's arms. The cubs promptly snuggled close to their friends and watched curiously as Sile perched on the log seat beside her closefriend and draped her tail across his shoulders.

"Pretty feathers." Keliana eventually said, her love of all feathered rahi overcoming her shyness of the, currently solid, spirit. The pale green/gold cub then wriggled from Kokua's lap and shifted along the log seat until she was sat beside the gryphon Hordika. Charmed by the delight in Keliana's eye as she carefully brushed her hands over the wing nearest her, Sile gently tickled the cub with her tail, drawing helpless giggles from her which soon filled the cavern and brought smiles to everyone else.

*Their hatchlings are safe, but we can't have any* Anuenue cheeped sadly as she found some energy to sit up and lean against Nuju, whom gently hugged her close. *I'm sorry* he chirruped softly before carefully wiping tears from his closefriend's cheeks as she trilled sadly and rested her head on his shoulder.

Both Great Spirits shared a glance, hope in their eyes at this sign that the Turaga of Colour seemed to be coming back to herself, "As Anuenue would say, fingers crossed." Rhya whispered to Keetongu, whom smiled and turned his gaze back to the Turaga Hordika.

Time seemed to creep as Turaga Nuju continued speaking with his closefriend and the cubs had fallen asleep nestled against Sile, much to the amusement of the gryphon Hordika. Then Sile glanced around as a low sigh reached where she was sitting, the others also paused in their conversation and watched their friends closely. Anuenue was still curled against her closefriend, but she was now cautiously and curiously peering over to where they were gathered.

A soft trill of enquiry from Wanimua had the Turaga Hordika shyly replying before he and Makeo joined their friends. When Anuenue chirped in reply, the pheasant rahi craned his neck and began to gently preen the wing nearest to him, while Makeo crooned softly, resting his head on Nuju's shoulder to watch.

"I...I just wish..." Anuenue's voice broke as she finally remembered who she was and began shivering in reaction as her memories began to return. On hearing their sister speak, Aikane and Kokua moved closer keeping their movements slow so as not to spook her. Glancing up as they settled on the floor beside the bed and when she looked at them, offered her their hands. Cautiously the Turaga Hordika reached out to brush her claws against their palms then rested her hands in theirs, "M-my sisters." she whispered as tears began tricking down her face.

Roughly 15 minutes later, Mata Nui shared a glance with Keetongu, whom nodded and rejoined those around Turaga Hordika Anuenue. He rumbled reassuringly when she twitched nervously and looked up at him as he crouched down to examine her, *Healer* she chirped softly as Keetongu delicately brushed a hand over her damaged wing. "Do you remember what Vakama and his team went through?" the golden healing rahi asked as he continued gently soothing Anuenue's nervousness at having so many so close to her. Bobbing her head, Anuenue wiped the tears on her face and smiled sadly when Nuju gently brushed her eyes with a cloth, "Y-yes, and w-what I-I need to do. But...but..."

"You'll miss flying." Kokua whispered, her own eyes filling as Anuenue nodded, more tears rolling down her cheeks, and buried her head against Nuju's shoulder. Gently stroking her back, the Turaga glanced at his friends and nodded when Notegeku joined them and offered him a drink for Anuenue. She paused when Mata Nui reached out and passed a softly glowing hand over the beaker then nodded to her, "It'll help her calm further." his whisper reached the dark green/gold healing rahi as she then coaxed Anuenue into having a drink.

Eventually Anuenue gave a weak sob and, with Nuju's help, dried her face before hiding her nervousness at so many watching her as she looked around the cavern before quietly naming everyone she could see.

"I-I can't stay in this form, the need to fly is far too great to...to resist." she said when she met Keetongu's gaze. Smiling kindly, the golden healing rahi took her trembling hands in his, "And we will cleanse the Visorak taint from you. Once you've had a proper nap."

"But, but what if I try to escape?" Anuenue blurted, an anxious trill following her comment as she looked imploringly at her friends while leaning into Nuju's comforting hug as he murmured soothingly to her. "We will keep watch over you. And I think a pair of cubs desperately wish to snuggle against you." Mata Nui chuckled as the Turaga Hordika peered up at him and Rhya, whom returned Anuenue's tentative smile as eager squeaks came from Keliana and Naneki.

Within two minutes, they were nestled tightly against Anuenue, Keli gently running her hands over a wing and Nane hugging her, his head resting on her chest. Nuju smiled as his closefriend trilled softly to the cubs until they fell asleep then gently stroked her wings until she too drifted into sleep.