The Pentad is eating dinner in the Gallery of Rniti when a group of Rniti creep behind them. The food-dumped Jayyojjek and three of his fellow Jayyojjeks try to scare the Pentad by jesting them with stories of how the Pentad is not strong enough to achieve any goal worthy of reverence in the Injhihato and that the Pentad will fail miserably at everything they attempt. Hawk leers clean through the boys and denounces everything they try to say.
The food-dumped Jayyojjek threatens, “Watch your mouth, boy,” to Hawk.
“If I watch my mouth, how can I possibly see through all your dung,” Hawk asks menacingly.
The older Rniti responds, “You cannot talk to me that way jyap, I am a Jayyojjek, you have to give me resp-”
“I’ll give you respect when Karacrross’ walls fall. Oh and if you don’t know, they haven’t fell. Ever,” Hawk retaliates.
The older Rniti snaps, whips out his sword, and slashes at Hawk’s arm. Hawk takes the cut as red oozes out to soak part of his shirt sleeve and calmly suggests, “Is there any way to resolve our differences?”
“You mean, as in a duel?” One of the older Rniti’s followers says.
“Yes a duel, if that is the way things are normally resolved at the Injhihato. I am exhausted of our ill-feelings just because you can not bring yourself to rise above an innocent mistake that my good friend Fox here made,” Hawk says in exasperation.
The Jayyojjek laughs, “I accept your challenge, I assume you know the rules of a duel.”
Hawk shakes his head slowly. “No, I do not, actually.”
“Well, I shall explain them to you as we walk, now follow me. And I will show you how I ’rise above‘ mistakes.” The Jayyojjek begins to lead Hawk, and a small procession, to the dueling circle. “Now, to win a duel, you simply hit your opponent in the stomach with any part of your weapon. Other than that, there are hardly any rules. But, keep in mind there are limits as to what one can do for it clashes with one’s honor. Oho, look, we have arrived.”
A crowd gathers around the dueling circle just outside the first ring where Hawk has had only a few lessons with a sword. The rest of the Pentad stands behind their fifth side, wary of any probable cheating by the older Rniti’s gang. The duel starts when both contenders draw their weapons and wield their shields. Hawk, reverse blade, the Jayyojjek, upright saber.
The older Rniti charges unexpectedly and nearly wins the duel in one quick strike at Hawk’s stomach. The crowd cheers and the older Rniti’s gang yells, “Yeah, that’s what you get when you mess with Coarsefier!”
Coarsefier continues his attack upon Hawk. Hawk barely holds his own until he understands Coarsefier’s style. Hawk thinks to himself, ‘Coarsefier’s attack is rather primitive; slash, slash, stab, block. I can counter that easily, rather simple for a Rniti. Any Rniti.’
On Coarsefier’s next charge, Hawk sweeps his shield directly into Coarsefier’s left knee, spins and brings his blade across Coarsefier’s right shoulder. Coarsefier yelps in pain, but when he turns to face Hawk, blood-lust is in his eyes. Coarsefier charges gain, but Hawk counters this time with a slash, slash, stab, block of his own, bamboozling his opponent. Coarsefier thinks to himself, ‘How did this jyap figure out my technique so quickly?’
Hawk charges for the first time, surprising Coarsefier. With a complex series of swings and feigned jabs, accompanied by a few shield punches, Hawk brings his blade down on Coarsefier’s left shoulder. Coarsefier grits his teeth to the pain and realizes he underestimated Hawk. Coarsefier mulls in his head, ‘I must end it quickly, a stomach blow is the only way to end any duel, and in this case only a stomach blow is feasible. Any others will be a waste of energy.’
Hawk charges for a second time, but feigns every move, enticing his opponent to attack him. Coarsefier obliges and attacks Hawk. Hawk parries the first of Coarsefier’s slashes and counters with a quick slap in the face to Coarsefier followed by a sudden turn and pommel smack to Coarsefier directly in the gut, effectively ending the duel.
Everyone in the crowd releases a cohesive gasp. A Jayyojjek defeated by an Ummkoniyo, unheard of. The crowd is no longer cheering, they are far too awed by what they witnessed to cheer. Coarsefier, a well-trained Rniti wriggles on the ground while the victor, a newly christened Ummkoniyo, stands gallantly over him.
“Now, don’t ever let me hear you say another lie again. Its not the Rniti way to lie.” With those last words Hawk turns to leave, just as Coarsefier’s gang jumps into action to attack Hawk and avenge their leader.
Three clangs, three flashes of light, and three thuds on the ground are the result of their attempted attack. When they look upon the person who foiled them they are scared witless. Santhemum smirks at the fallen Jayyojjeks.
“Good job, Santhemum,” Hawk and the rest of the Pentad then turn on their heels to proceed to their bed chambers.
Having witnessed the entire skirmish Vaiqon deems, “Hmm... I believe Hawk can spar with any Rniti. And, yes, that Santhemum is ready for possibly one of us Daijoks.”
Vulcan confirms, “Oh yes, they are both quite extraordinary Ummkoniyos.”
Teqqc feels the wound upon Uxxok’s right thigh. She looks at it with a slight smile.
“At least it has been healing nicely,” she says to herself.
“What has been healing nicely?” a gravelly voice utters through her ears.
She looks to Uxxok’s eyes and sees tiny inlets of light protruding from under his eyelids.
“Oh, Uxxok! You are awake!” Teqqc exclaims while bending over at her waist to hug him.
Uxxok’s eyes spring open. “What do you mean awake? Was I unconscious?”
Teqqc pulls away. “Yes? Do you not remember? You flashed here after, what I can only assume judging by your leg wound, a rather grueling battle?”
“My leg wound?” Uxxok asks completely baffled. He rises to a sitting position with a grunt of pain to gaze at a pure white bandage wrapped around his right thigh. “I honestly do not remember being wounded on my thigh. I barely remember a bat... That is what that dark room was!”
Teqqc looks at Uxxok incredulously. “What dark room? I have kept candles lit the entire time it has been night outside. This room has been-”
“I am not talking about this room, Teqqc,” Uxxok spouts not unkindly.
Teqqc gazes at Uxxok, feeling his anger spike, knowing he was not able to release any of that contained anger within while he was unconscious. She waits for him to breathe before saying, “Uxxok, you have been unconscious for five days, have you been relishing in your aura?”
Uxxok stares at Teqqc. “I am afraid it was not my aura, but rather, a stolen aura.”
“You broke into an untrained mind, Uxxok?” Teqqc asks shocked.
“I had no choice, Teqqc. He was dying and I needed answers. He was the only lead I had.”
“Was he dying at your hand?”
“Well... yes, but only because he murdered a tavern full of people. I had to bring him down. Then, without his cooperation, I had to break into his aura to obtain the information I needed.”
“I see,” Teqqc says, her voice riled with disappointment. “Well, did you uncover what you were hoping to find?”
Uxxok scratches his chin, “Yes. And no. I discovered how to enter a building and how to enter a room, but not what the room was for. Or the hidden room. But I do have a hunch. And that is all I can remember as of now. I must meditate.”
Uxxok tries to rise from the bed but then discovers his own body has betrayed him with utter weakness. He falls back to the mattress with a thud. His vision spins. He looks at Teqqc and is surprised at how quickly his vision clears while looking at her. The sunlight streaming through the window creating a basking halo around her person.
Teqqc caresses Uxxok’s right cheek, “Oh dear, you are not going anywhere except for that bed for a while. I fear that blade from your battle had poison on it. You lost quite a bit of blood, and it did not clot until a few hours ago. I am surprised you awoke at all.”
“Was that a sneer at my age?”
“It could have been.”
Uxxok smiles genuinely at Teqqc and feels something stir inside him he has not felt in quite a while. Teqqc returns the smile and bends down to kiss Uxxok on his cheek. She rises from the bed, but before she can go, Uxxok grabs her arm.
“Please stay. At least until I fall asleep.”
Teqqc smiles warmly at him, tucking her silver hair behind her ear, “Of course.