Standing before Vulcan, the Pentad gazes at the sigo Daijok with awe upon their faces of Vulcan’s prowess as a sigo and swordsman. They watch as Vulcan faces an invisible opponent with his sword drawn in his left hand and a whip of fire in his right. They watch as Vulcan elegantly moves through complicated transitions that they are sure would impale any opponent in a matter of heart beats. They watch as the whip of fire tears through the air as if separating the particles of air from one another, leaving a haze behind the trailing whip of fire.
Vulcan, sweating from his brow, sheathes his sword on his right hip and extinguishes his whip of fire. He turns towards the Pentad and smiles at their awe.
“And that, Pentad,” Vulcan states, “is just the beginning move-set that you all will learn of the sword and respective zoltind.”
Fox raises his hand. When Vulcan nods to acknowledge him, Fox asks, “What is zoltind?”
Vulcan shrugs, “I am not to instruct you of the mysteries of zoltind. I believe Shark has that... honor. I am to instruct you of the the foundations of the Rniti and of how your training will proceed in the years to come.”
Fox nods, but slumps as does the rest of the Pentad as they have heard only rumors of zoltind abilities throughout their lives.
Vulcan then turns to gesture towards a massive first ring where various Rniti spar in pairs or groups. Vulcan turns to his left to show a cluster of smaller rings where even more Rniti spar and train.
“These rings represent various levels of expertise at the Injhihato,” Vulcan begins. “The ring behind me,” Vulcan gestures with his thumb, “is the first ring where you will train. This ring is for Ummkoniyos. This ring is the biggest ring and you will understand for what purpose tomorrow.
“The smaller rings to my left and right, clustered together by your weapon class and zoltind ability, show that you have improved over your time here and have become first, Keer, then Rniti, and lastly Jayyojjek.”
“What about Daijok?” Desert bluntly asks without acknowledgement.
Vulcan raises an eyebrow towards Desert but answers regardless of Desert’s outburst, “The Daijoks, Vaiqon, Shark, Rhino, and myself, are the only four Daijoks of the entire Rniti. We are the masters of our respective zoltind abilities and as such, coordinate with one another in the training of the various Rniti at the Injhihato.”
Desert purses his lips together behind his scarf and glances away from Vulcan’s cold gaze.
“Now, as I... yes, Pork?” Vulcan inquires.
“What’s the difference between Keer, Rniti and Jayyojjeks?” Pork asks. “Wait, aren’t we all Rniti?”
Vulcan chuckles, but responds, “Pork, though we are all Rniti, we all comprise different levels of Rniti. For instance, you all are Ummkoniyos. There once was a time when we had scores of apprentices such as you, but as of late, we have only had one class a year, a class that one Daijok finds each year, a class that must prove themselves by defeating the obstacle course.
“After proving yourselves for a year, you will be invited to compete in the Serial Event for Keer Initiation. There, you will prove yourself in a series of difficult events that will test all of the skills you have learned whilst training as an Ummkoniyo.
“After becoming Keer and training for another two years, you then have the ability to become fully recognized Rniti. This is deemed at your instructing Daijok’s discretion, which in this case, is Vaiqon, though we often have Serial Events to test your prowess as Keer and Rniti.
“And, lastly, after proving yourselves time and time again as Rniti for no less than five years, you will be deemed by all of us Daijoks as Jayyojjek, should we see fit.
“As Jayyojjek, you are allowed to leave the Injhihato and continue your training as you see fit throughout Munda Luna. We have Rniti that fall in love with a trade and establish a respectable business. We have Rniti that fall in love with weaponry and become blacksmiths to forge the best weapons Munda Luna has ever seen. I highly recommend speaking with the blacksmith here at the Injhihato so that you may learn of her knowledge and wisdom when deciding on your weapon class.
“And, we even have Rniti that fall in love with their mate and leave the Brotherhood to establish their own family. Those Rniti we send off in a loving farewell after their wedding ceremony here at the Injhihato. The only time the civilians of Munda Luna are allowed to visit the Injhihato,” Vulcan concludes, his gaze unfocused but dark.
The Pentad glances in the general direction of Vulcan’s blank gaze, but shrug as the Daijok then startles himself from his daydream.
“But how does one become a Daijok?” Desert asks again.
Vulcan grimaces nearly imperceptibly, “To become a Daijok, the Daijok in your respective zoltind must offer his position has he sees you are the best fit to succeed him as Daijok. This is done rarely, as you can observe, there are only four of us and we have yet to age past our fiftieth year. The Daijoks before us were well past their ninetieth year. Also, when offered a position as Daijok, it is seen as the utmost honorable gesture and is rarely rejected. With that being said, Desert, if your aim is to become Daijok, I would befriend Rhino, perhaps by the time you are of an age to succeed him, he may consider you, but there are others well above you in experience and expertise.”
Desert slumps again as Vulcan smirks in victory.
Vulcan breathes deeply, his eyes closed as if listening to a voice far away. He nods to himself, “Very well, Pentad, it appears that I am needed elsewhere at present. Your training with the sword and shield will begin tomorrow. For now, enjoy the rest of your day, and, again, I highly urge you all to visit with the blacksmith to understand the various weapon classes here at the Injhihato. Veqxon xucj wek cea, Pentad,” Vulcan concludes before flashing away in a harsh red light.
The Pentad glances at one another then turn on their heels towards the blacksmith’s quarters. As they pass ring after ring of training Rniti, they see the blacksmith’s building, a squat little building on the edge of the massive Central Injhihato Complex, they see the Jayyojjek that Fox accidentally dumped his stew on yesterday.
Instantly, Fox ducks his head and attempts to hide behind Hawk. When they pass by the dark-skinned Jayyojjek, Fox nearly breathes a sigh of relief, until he hears the young man’s voice scrape through the air.
“Oh what is the matter little guy,” the Jayyojjek’s voice rings, “afraid of little ole me?”
The Pentad attempts to keep walking, but the Jayyojjek’s friends bar their forward progress.
The Jayyojjek walks just behind the Pentad where he attempts to pull Fox out of the middle, but finds his arm trapped in Hawk’s and Santhemum’s grip. The Jayyojjek chuckles in amusement.
“I would-” the Jayyojjek begins.
“Ah, just who I was looking for,” Vaiqon’s voice rings through the air.
Vaiqon seizes the Jayyojjek’s shoulder who retracts his arm in a blur. The Pentad stares at Vaiqon with gratitude.
Vaiqon and the Jayyojjek disappear in a flash of red. The Rniti before the Pentad move out of the way casually. The Pentad briskly walks away.
“Hmm, maybe you shouldn’t have dumped food on him last night,” Desert scalds.
Fox slumps even lower, “I didn’t mean to...”
“From where I was sitting, it sure looked like you did, ya know, I could talk to him if ya want, Foxes,” Desert says.
Fox stares at Desert with utmost fright.
“Desert,” Hawk commands, “leave our brother alone.”
“What?!” Desert asks offended. “I wasn’t actually gonna talk to him.”
“You always take things too far though,” Hawk says.
“How?” Desert asks appalled.
“Well, you know Fox is upset about it and you keep going,” Hawk offers.
“Oh like you know how to be nice to people who aren’t feeling well,” Pork interrupts.
The Pentad stares at Pork as he continues, “You remember what you did when I had the weqa.”
Hawk rolls his eyes, “Oh, how many times are you gonna bring that up! I was just trying to be funny!”
“Its not funny to throw a slimy snail down my pants when I’m not feeling well1” Pork counters.
Hawk steams at the sudden aggression from his supposed best friend and the Pentad continues to walk in silence towards the blacksmith’s squat building where they can already feel the heat of the forge inside.