A young Miosi woman wandered through the streets of Velrivel. Her clothes appeared worn, as though she had been traveling. She wore a light hood, made out of cheap, non-dyed wool. She kept it drawn up close to her. As she wandered she turned her head looking around in amazement. She flipped her head around at a clatter on the flagstone road behind her. The street was busy, but no one had followed her down the alleyway she had taken.
“Just the wind or a pebble, probably,” she sighed in relief. She continued down the alleyway, squinting at all the signs as she went. She drew out a scratch piece of paper from beneath the tattered cloak. “What place was it? Naiel’s House of Wisdom? Urivie Alley?” She looked at the next street sign and recognized the name. She turned and headed down Urivie Alley. She saw a dirty shop at the end of the street and headed towards the sign to see if it was the place she needed to be. A Shadow passed above her, as though someone was watching her from the rooftops. She tilted her head up and squinted. She tried to find where the shadow had come from. She had no such luck. Anara continued down the alleyway, her goal in sight. She entered the shop.
The shop keeper looked up from his dusty tome and spoke in monotone Miosi “Welcome to Naiel’s House of Wisdom. What can I help you with?”
Anara removed her hood to reveal a beautiful face, radiating heavenly light with its fairness. Her skin had a silver sheen to it, which the shop keeper, Naiel promptly noticed. Her hair was also dark, like a Raven’s. Naiel sat straight up and spoke once more, “What is your name mi’lady.”
“Anara” she replied in a forced Miosi accent.
“What can I help you find Lady Anara?”
“I come from the city of Naerin, seeking a particular bit of knowledge and perhaps some guidance.”
Naiel came out from behind the desk. He hobbled over to Anara and brought her a lopsided stool to sit on. Even at his full hight he was dwarfed by Anara sitting down. He brought out a second stool for himself to sit on, and he spoke to her. “My dear lady, ask me any question, and we can find the answer together.” He tilted his head to disguise the lopsided face he wore.
“What do you know about other worlds?” Anara asked carefully.
“I know they are theorized to exist, but no one has ever been able to prove that claim,” Naiel said calmly.
“Is it possible to travel between worlds?” Anara hesitated, and then added “Hypothetically of course.”
Naiel looked somewhat exasperated, but replied in a kind tone nonetheless “I mean, if other worlds exist, and there was a way to get a vessel to cross the great distances of the unknown, sure.”
“Well, what about the Void? Couldn’t one use that to travel in between all the worlds?”
“First off, the Void is more mysterious than even I dare seek answers to.” His voice seemed to rise as he spoke, “second, No one even knows if the Void is survivable.” Naiel inhaled, “Third: even if someone understood the Void, and knew how to survive in it; they would still have to figure out how to control when and where they would even have access to it.”
“So it is possible?” Anara encouraged
Naiel was starting to get upset with her questions, as he spoke in a rude tone, “Did you not hear a word I just said?” His face turned beat red as he backpedaled, sighed, and then spoke in a muted tone, “It is theoretically possible, but no one has knowledge of any real substance on the matter.”
“I have another question sir,” Anara said, her accent slipping slightly.
Naiel became noticeably irritated at these words. Through gritted teeth he spoke, “Yes, mi’lady, what is your question?”
“What do you know about the Guardians?”
“My dear, surely you don’t need me to tell about the Guardians, all Miosi learn about them during their tutoring at the temples. I helped the Imperiarchs to design the current system.” Naiel raised his eyebrows in suspicion.
“I wasn’t raised in Miosi lands,” Anara began, still forcing an accent. “My parents fled during the War.”
“Ah, I see,” Naiel replied, thoroughly unconvinced. “Well, repetition is a great teacher.” He chuckled to himself. “No one can agree about what exactly the Guardians are, or where they came from, or have gone. But, even the most skeptical of scholars agree that they first appeared to us long ago when the Rivel Empire was at its height. It was a brutal Battle fought just outside the gates of Mios, the remains of the great Tyrant Rivelion Imperio Daevus Dragus Imperius IX and his army of great beasts can still be seen from the great towers of the Imperial Capital. The Guardians arrived at our ancestors’ direst time of need. They were able to slay the Rivel Emperor, his beasts, and all but one of the Imperiarchs.” Naiel paused, clearing his throat.
“What happened next?” Anara asked.
Naiel coughed and then sharply retorted, “Hold up there little lady, I needed to take a pause to clear my throat, don’t interrupt. Now, after the Battle of the Guardians, the accounts vary. Some legends say that they then organized our nation’s structure and blessed the line of Iesiah the Great to rule over our people. Others say that Iesiah was the one who slew the Imperiarch Evren and was anointed Emperor by the will of the people. Most accounts do agree that the Guardians did not stay long this time, just long enough overthrow the Rivel Empire.”
Naiel coughed again, and then after clearing his throat spoke some more, “The next time the Guardians came to our aide is debated by all the scholars. I say that every account has merit, even if only to increase the legends surrounding our great protectors. But, the next time we have evidence of them helping us is during the wars in the Expansion era. There were elvish strongholds all across the Imperial Forest and up and down the Imperial Roads, and they were receiving support from the Amahlese. Accounts indicate that during a fierce storm one of our caravans carrying supplies for the people Bourivel was destroyed and many of the men lost, but the Guardians arrived and led the men to the city and lifted up a great cart full of supplies.”
“So the Guardians only protect the children of the Miosi?”
“Not at all my dear, you see, the Denthesians also see their protection. The Guardians protect all the righteous people, even if they don’t recognize it.”
“Have there been any recent appearances of the Guardians?”
Naiel laughed a little bit, “The Guardians haven’t appeared in living memory of the Miosi; only an elf would be able to remember.”
Anara looked disappointed, “Thank you for answering my questions wise master.”
Naiel sat up taller, “It was no problem mi’lady, truth be told I haven’t had many people come to me for answers, at least not since I retired from the Emperor’s service.”
“You worked for the Emperor?”
“Yes, now no more questions or I’ll start charging you!”
Anara stood stiffly at this remark. She reached into her beat up cloak and withdrew a purse. “I have 10 Seraphs for your patience wise master.” She slid the pouch into his hand and then spun around. “I really do appreciate all you have done, take care now.”
“Thank you sweet lady, come visit me anytime,” Naiel winked at her as she departed from the store.
Anara stepped down, strolling back through the alleyway. She pulled up her hood as she rounded a corner onto a busy foot-path. Muttering to herself in a strange tongue she went on and on about the information she had discovered. She paid no attention to the man watching her as she crossed the square in the Market District of the great city. The man also kept his face hidden from view. He was average build, a bit short for a Miosi, more human. His beige skin showed at his hands. He smiled and kept watching Anara from the distance. He shook his head when she ran into someone while muttering to herself.
“Raelius,” a Stranger Called.
The man with beige skin turned to address the stranger, “Ah, Vincent glad to see you.”
Vincent, a large military looking man with scars to prove his long service strode over to stand near Raelius. His skin was pale compared to Raelius’s, but not ivory or porcelain. With a giant shovel-like hand he passed Raelius a drink with bits of fruit hanging off of the side. In his other hand, he carried a similar drink for himself.
“Something interesting?” Vincent asked his voice gruff and worn.
“Yes,” Raelius replied his voice smooth and baritone, “I think I found another one of us.”
“Yes, another off-worlder.”
“Is she one of us?” Vincent asked.
“Not yet, not by the looks of her.” Raelius said, almost talking to himself, “She seems like she is still lost and confused.”
“What will we do?”
“Wait and watch, see what she does.” Raelius trailed off, “If she is an off-worlder we will need to bring her back to the island, you know?”
“Yes, Raelius, I know.” Vincent said patting Raelius on the shoulder, as he took a sip from his cup “For her sake, I hope she is just a regular foreigner and not one of the ones we are looking for.”
Vincent turned from where Raelius stood. Raelius was still watching over Anara as she disappeared into the crowd. Raelius drained his cup, sighed while passing it back to Vincent. He stepped down from the raised platform and began to silently follow Anara as she wandered the city. He tracked her effortlessly, she made little effort to conceal her destination and put less thought into being cautious. As they went along her path, his thoughts began to wander just as Anara’s footsteps. He thought back to when he first was taken to the island. Pain and misery flooded his emotions as he remembers the agony he was put through in order to become what he was. The tracking sensor he set up went off, bringing an alert to the forefront of his mind. Anara had gone into the great library. Great, she might be in there for hours or even days. Raelius thought, well at least I have a lot of spare time.
After adjusting something on his wrist a great glowing dial appeared in front of him with all kinds of strange markings on the face of it. It resembled a strange clock, although blue and almost ethereal looking. He tapped on some of the strange energy like surface. Raelius’s surroundings began to spin with a couple clicks and a burst of electricity. And then suddenly, the lights and swirling world stopped, revealing the great library, but it was dusk and the street-lamps were being lit. Raelius seemed un-phased by the sudden change in lighting, instead opting to look around for Anara’s distinctive strut across the courtyard. After a few minutes of taking in the night air a tattered cloak flowed behind a feminine figure as she departed the library and went down the steps. Raelius walked over to her.
As Raelius approached the long sweeping steps up the library he saw Anara turn around, peeking over her shoulder only to bump into him. She whirled on the ball of her foot to face him.
“You would think tracking a foreigner would be easy. It was even easier than I thought,” said Raelius in Miosi.
Anara replied in Miosi “I am no foreigner, I am from the city Naerin and this is my first time in Velrivel.”
“Oh good, you already speak the language” Raelius said in different, yet familiar tongue to Anara “This will make things easier.
“I don’t know what you are talking about.”
“You understand me, I know you do.”
“I understand the words, but not what you are saying.”
“Going around town asking about traveling between worlds is a good way to attract attention to oneself, especially, if one is not from this world.” Raelius spoke in a gentle tone, attempting to smooth things over.
Anara cursed, “That old man, Naiel, he ratted on me didn’t he?”
“Oh no. Of course not. Naiel is too senile to remember anyone who comes through his shop. His memory on other topics is remarkably un-phased by his advanced age. No, we have been watching you for a while.”
Anara looked visibly upset and unnerved by this revelation, “You have been following me all this time!” She screeched, “How dare you!”
“Now, now,” Raelius interjected, “you do not want to make a scene dear one. We are not here to harm you, we want you to succeed.”
“Ah, yes. I forgot to mention my associate, he isn’t nearby at the moment, but you need not worry, he is an upstanding man who has seen a lot of harm come to young people at the hands of others. He doesn’t want anyone else to get hurt. His name is Vincent de Valeaux, although I suspect you may know him as Veisze Valeaux du Praetor.”
“What did you say?” Anara snapped back in the language Raelius spoke in.
“Veisze the Praetor, my dear. Have you heard of him?”
“How do you know him?”
“He arrived shortly after myself on this strange world, just like yourself. Ah, what is your name my dear?”
“I’ll tell you mine if you tell me yours!” Anara grumbled back.
“Oh, yes, how rude of me I completely forgot my manners; you’ll have to forgive me. My name is Raphael, although many people here call me Raelius as they can never get my proper name right.”
“Alright then, Raelius, my name is Anara.”
“How wonderful,” Raelius remarked, “It is time I take you to the island.”
“What, I asked Where?” Anara said grumpily.
“You know if you keep up your impertinence you may never find the answers to the questions you have.”
“How do you know what questions I have?”
“My point exactly,” Raelius replied.
“Harumph!” Anara exclaimed. “I’ll wait right here until you answer my questions.”
Raelius used his eye scanner to detect if Anara was likely to accept the answers here or he was better off leaving her behind until she cooled her jets. After a few moments he sighed and spoke, “Your first question, where? It is not a matter of distance, but of time. The correct question is when. For your second, I have no clue what answers you seek, but I know that you have questions. I also know we can find the answer in the place I am going to take you. Are you satisfied?”
“Not really, no.”
Raelius responded with silence.
“But, I’ll accept it for the moment.” Anara added.
“Very well,” Raelius said stiffly, “You’d best get ready.
Raelius twisted the device on his wrist again and the great ethereal clock-like device appeared before him again, this time with even more strange markings on it. As he fiddled with the display Anara stared in shock. Raelius held up his hand to silence her before she got out any sort of exclamation. He tapped on a different space on the dial, seizing Anara’s hand, and all the buildings began to blur. As their surroundings whooshed past the two of them a burst of electricity shot out from the device and jolted them away, leaving the steps of the library empty. The only sign of movement on the entire street were small particles of dust floating down from the air. The dust settled, and the courtyard was still.
If you talk to me more than once, chances are you will probably know about my obsession with a children’s toy product, Bionicle. For point of reference, Bionicle was a children’s toy line created by Lego at the start of the 2000’s. It featured buildable action figures and had a set of short novels to create a story to go along with the toy line – basically becoming Power Rangers, Pokemon, and/or Transformers, but with a different spin. During the first year of its run (2001) Bionicle generated over $161 Million (£100 Million)  in revenue for LEGO, and roughly the same in first years of its run. This success is a major reason why Bionicle was largely responsible for the continuation of the LEGO Company and its success today. During the 90’s LEGO had been suffering losses and were running out of time and money, and Bionicle came in to save the day.
Now, if Bionicle is nothing more than a children’s toy line that begs the question, what made it so “popular” or least loveable by a child who was born on the wrong side of the 90’s. I will answer that question for myself, and hopefully will instill a degree of understanding to the general audience as to why I remain loyal to a dead franchise. My love of these toys stems from my early childhood. In fact this shares the timing of another one of my hobbies, pipecleaners.
Now like most children, I too, had those few things that I really enjoyed and were permitted by my parents. In my case, a major part of my childhood was Bionicle. I remember I used to ask my parents all the time for them, but never was able to get ahold of many of the figures; luckily this is where pipecleaners came in. With the fuzz covered wires I could create my own action figures and doll out justice upon the evildoers. So, like any loyal fan, some of my first creations were pipecleaner versions of the actual Bionicle characters, and then I fused the pieces and pipecleaners and also created my own characters. You could say that Bionicle was my first fandom. And one could even make the argument that because of my love for these plastic representations of bio-mechanical beings I became a writer.
With Bionicle kick starting the process, I quickly amassed several legions of pipecleaner creations, many of whom were reminiscent of the heroes themselves (the Toa). I quickly began to create stories in my mind where the Toa would fight alongside the heroes of another franchise to defeat a great evil. Those in turn evolved into stories featuring my own characters and my own worlds – simple as I was merely a child then. I credit a great deal of my creativity and storytelling skill to these great, wonderful, and deep Biological Chronicle based beings.
I have many thanks to give to my first fandom. The great Bionicles of the days past are no more and we are left with nothing but memories. I give thanks to the Bionicle series for giving me a great childhood where I believed in heroes. I thank you for the all the good times and stories I have had with you and the plastic figure I still own. I thank you for inspiring me in that early stage of my life to create and tell stories and without that inspiration I might not have written this piece this day. I also have a practical use for my love of Bionicle. Even my online handle, gamer tag, and partial pseudonym are a throwback to Bionicle. The first few stories in the Bionicle Universe feature a character known as the Chronicler, and I have taken that title upon myself in my work to honor my roots and give tribute to the greatness of my childhood fandom.
On my mission, when I was assigned to the Northern Lights Samoan ward, I was also instructed to begin learning the Samoan language. I found that as I learned, the pronunciation of the words, rhythm and air of the language closely mirrored my childhood fandom. (The names of the characters and places in Bionicle are based on the Polynesian Languages). Who knew that after so many years, my love for the toys of my childhood would help me in the real world to partially learn and speak a new language? More than that, it helped me stay sane and keep a grasp on reality. As I had previously explained, the stress of serving a mission is intense and sometimes hard to deal with, and Bionicle helped me get through that. Even though it had originally been canceled in 2010, it was brought back in 2015 for a two year run. 2015 and 2016 would see the release of the Second Generation Bionicles. Almost as if it was brought back for me and my mission, it saw the light of day once more. It was glorious, and I was able to enjoy building these figures to destress on my mission.
In conclusion, to this day, I still love Bionicle. I read the stories, watch the movies, play the games, and build the figures, I still create stories featuring character that I have created and that are already part of the series. Truly, I would say that Bionicle is my first fandom, and it will always have a special place in my heart, even if I have no one to share it with. I will always remember my childhood because of Bionicle. I will always remember the tale of the Bionicle; find your unity, perform your duty, and claim your destiny. I would love to see them revived for another go someday, but I understand that all things must end in time.
The Mask of time,
the first bit of Lore created in the Bionicle Universe.
End in Time, more like begin in time.
Image credit - Biosector01 - Free Use