“What has become of your pupils, Vaiqon?” Vulcan asks with a sneer in his voice.
Vaiqon shoots a look at Vulcan but finds no energy to argue. He lazily walks to the bench behind the stone model of Munda Luna and collapses onto it. He looks at his fellow Daijoks with tired eyes.
“My pupils displayed such great power today. I am worried that will inflate their fragile egos,” Vaiqon says.
“That would require them to have egos to inflate initially. Vaiqon, remember, they are only children at the present,” Rhino says. “I understand that you see greatness before them, but you must remember you must teach them how.”
“And, for that matter,” Shark states, “what transpired today proves what we knew all along. That Hawk is in fact the powerful ire we have been searching for.”
Vaiqon stares at Shark. “Perhaps. Perhaps it is still too soon to make such a quick judgement.”
“Yes, let us not get carried away,” Vulcan agrees. “As you said, Rhino, he is a merely a child. He has much to learn. Who are we to judge him as our possible savior.”
Vaiqon shakes his head. “But it is definitive. Hawk and Desert are incredibly powerful. What we saw them conjure today, at their level of experience, unheard of. They could very well be the ones we have been searching for.”
Vulcan, Rhino, and Shark stare at Vaiqon with confusion. Vaiqon shakes his head again.
“The ones?” Shark asks.
Vaiqon rises from the bench and goes to the stone model of Munda Luna where the book titled, ‘Gojjoqj ew Rnefqoxvo,’ rests upon the model. He opens the book to the passage titled, ‘Hto Mefokwaq Joor, hto Anfekhtc Wuiq, hto Ytejon Htkigo.’ He reads the passage once. He turns the page to a passage titled, ‘Hto Yqeaxox Yqukihc.’
He lowers his head as he reads aloud, “Hto Yqeaxox Yqukihc. Htoko fiqq yemo u hipo fton enqc hto Daijoks fiqq wooq u xogujhuhinv xukrnojj. Fton htij ukijoj, hto eno htoh zaknj pejh fiht Yqukihc fiqq inwqupo qivth inhe hto xukrnojj...”
Vaiqon pauses for a moment to turn the page. “Tefogok, fiht htij qivth yepoj u mkiyo. Uj ogokchtinv in nuhuko ij zuqunyox, jo ij htij Yqukihc. Fiht htij Yqukihc, an Ezjyakihc uqje ukijoj. Htij Ezjyakihc fiqq jhkonvhton hto Yqukihc. Zah, hto eno htuh zkipj fiht hto pejh Ezjyakihc fiqq wekzuzo hto qivth.
“Hto Ezjyakihc fiqq zo giyhekieaj anhiq jayt u hipo ihj efn yqeaxj wuxo, uqqefinv qivth he monohkuho ihj xowonjoj unx enyo uvuin, Munda Luna fiqq zo jugox wkep unehtok Hteajunx Nivthpukoj.”
Vulcan, Rhino, and Shark look at Vaiqon with grave expressions on their faces.
Rhino translates Vaiqon’s reading aloud, but more to himself than anyone else, “The Clouded Clarity. There will come a time when only the Daijoks will feel a devastating darkness. When this arises, the one that burns most with Clarity will inflame light into the darkness.
“However, with this light comes a price. As everything in nature is balanced, so is this Clarity. With this Clarity, an Obscurity also arises. This Obscurity will strengthen the Clarity. But, the one that brims with the most Obscurity will forbade the light.
“The Obscurity will be victorious until such a time its own clouds fade, allowing light to penetrate its defenses and once again, Munda Luna will be saved from another Thousand Nightmares.”
“Is this what you kept from Teqqc,” Vulcan asks.
Vaiqon closes the book slowly, a grave look upon his face. He nods slowly. He looks to his fellow Daijoks. “I have also kept this from you for the past three years as well.”
Vulcan looks at Vaiqon suspiciously, “Why?”
Vaiqon appears sad, “I discovered the portion referring to the Obscurity the day we felt the darkness and researched it. When we discovered the Clarity, I thought perhaps that is what we needed to focus on. I had no idea the Obscurity would be so crucial.”
Vulcan scoffs, “You should know better than any of us how important it is to know anything and everything about an obscurity.”
Vaiqon winces as if Vulcan has struck him. His memories begin to flood his mind. A great battle, his last battle, rages before his eyes again. He blinks away the images with two swords plunged in a man’s throat still burned into his sight.
“Yes, you are correct, Vulcan, but just as the darkness made Teqqc afraid, so it did to me. I was rattled,” Vaiqon admits with an air of shame.
“Need not to be ashamed, Vaiqon,” Shark consoles. “That darkness scared us all. It is why we have researched it so.”
Vaiqon nods and smiles. “Thank you, Shark.”
“However, with this new evidence,” Rhino speaks, “we should really observe Hawk and Desert ever more closely. For if they are the ones this prophecy relates, they will be both our greatest asset, and our greatest enemy.”
Vaiqon shivers though there is no wind through the Chamber Rniti. He looks to each of his fellow Daijoks. He looks down at his feet. “Have I discovered, yet again, the possible bane to our existence?”
“Nonsense, Vaiqon,” Vulcan says.
Vaiqon looks at Vulcan with surprise. He raises an eyebrow in confusion at the sigo Daijok.
Vulcan smirks for a moment before nodding, “You cannot hold yourself responsible for any monster that may come to fruition because of forces uncontrollable to you. We are Daijoks, mentors, teachers, that is all. We cannot control the destinies of our pupils once they leave our reins.”
“I suppose you are right, Vulcan,” Vaiqon admits. “I just wish we could look into the future if even for a moment to decide what would be best for everyone.”
“If we could do that,” Shark speaks, “we would be wizards, not men.”
The Daijoks share a laugh. For the moment they forget their troubles and allow their minds to relax. Their laughing comes to a stop and they look at one another with worrisome expressions on their face.
“I feel a dark era approaching,” a voice rings out from behind them.
The Daijoks turn with startled expressions on their faces. Their vision falls upon two figures, one in a white cloak and tunic with silver hair, the other in dark clothes and a rugged face of peppered facial hair. The Daijoks’ hearts drop.
“How long have you been there, Uxxok, Teqqc?” Vaiqon asks with clear worry in his voice.
Uxxok smiles widely, “Oh, only long enough to hear exactly why I had to go underground. You know, it is quite refreshing to hear you Daijoks speak so candidly.”
Vaiqon, Vulcan, Rhino, and Shark each appear with anger boiling in their face.
Vulcan explodes, “You insolent Jayyojjek! You know your place very well, Uxxok, it is best you remain there. You cannot speak to us in this manner!”
Uxxok smiles even wider, “Oh. My apologies, sincerely, great Daijok Vulcan.”
Vulcan grits his teeth at Uxxok’s sarcasm and balls his fist.
Uxxok chuckles, “It appears I have struck a nerve. Hmm, so, this is what the Daijoks are like when they finally allow themselves to be flawed, when they realize nothing in this world is perfect.”
Vulcan cannot control himself any longer and throws a flame stream at Uxxok’s head. The stream is diverted away from Uxxok’s head and collides into the wall. Teqqc puts her arm down as Vulcan puts his arms down.
The Daijoks gape at Teqqc’s interference. Teqqc’s anger shows on her face. She walks towards her four former classmates. She places herself between the Daijoks and Uxxok. She raises her hands in front of her, palms out.
“We did not come here for conflict. Uxxok merely overheard your conversation, and we could not help but come here. Vaiqon, you lied to me. You told me you discovered that book recently when, in fact, you discovered it three years ago,” Teqqc states.
Vaiqon looks down for a moment, “I am afraid that is correct. I merely forgot about this book until recently. When you and Uxxok found that passage in that scholar’s office.”
“You remembered and still kept the information secret?” Teqqc asks.
Vaiqon nods slowly.
“How could you keep such vital information from all of us?” Teqqc says with pleading in her voice. “Especially after rediscovering it?”
Vaiqon opens his mouth to speak, but Uxxok speaks before Vaiqon has the chance to, “He wanted to protect you, Teqqc. He wanted to protect his fellow Daijoks. He wanted to protect the Injhihato. Apparently, he thought that by keeping the knowledge secret, it would not filter into every Rniti’s mind and cause a mass panic in Munda Luna. Little does he realize in his diluted perfected world, the land is already in chaos. Shall we inform them of what I have uncovered, Teqqc?”
Teqqc turns to Uxxok, nods, and waves him to her side.
Uxxok and Teqqc spend the next few minutes informing the Daijoks everything Uxxok has uncovered in the underground about the proposed slave trade. The Daijoks listen intently, hanging onto Uxxok and Teqqc’s every word.
When Uxxok and Teqqc conclude, the Daijoks glance at one another. Uxxok speaks, “Before you communicate telepathically, I should warn you I will hear it all anyway. Vaiqon, you must quit doubting yourself.”
Vaiqon eyes Uxxok with great suspicion. He thinks to himself, ‘Can Uxxok somehow enter my aura without my knowledge?’
Uxxok nods almost imperceptibly to Vaiqon. Vaiqon’s eyes widen but he smiles.
“Ah, so three years in the underground and you have learned a new trick, Uxxok,” Vaiqon praises.
Uxxok nods, “It is not the only trick either.”
Vaiqon blinks at Uxxok’s utter self-confidence. “Very well. Vulcan, Rhino, Shark, what do you make of this new development?”
Vulcan, Rhino, and Shark blink at Vaiqon.
“Should we not deliberate amongst ourselves, Vaiqon?” Rhino asks confusedly.
Vaiqon shakes his head. “Why, of course not. Why would we ever want to exclude the Oqoponh and our very helpful underground agent who has been on a mission at our request for the past three years?”
Vulcan, Rhino, and Shark blink again before Vulcan says, “Well, Vaiqon, I believe this slave trade has multiple levels to it and multiple leaders to it. A slave trade cannot spring up overnight.”
“Also,” Rhino adds, “there must be a single individual controlling the entire operation, we must bring this individual to justice.”
“Yes,” Shark continues, “we must identify and capture the minor leaders, possibly the ones leading the slavers in multiple cities and then coerce them into informing us of their leader.”
Vaiqon nods. “Uxxok, is that what you were thinking as well?”
Uxxok nods, impressed, “I must say that even though you Daijoks have diluted yourselves, you still think somewhat wisely.”
The four Daijoks’ anger sweeps across their faces again. Before another conflict can arise, Teqqc says, “Ah, I know what our next step is. Uxxok, I know you will be wanting to join me. I have a feeling these minor leaders will lead us to the main culprit behind the murders. And your attack.”
Uxxok smiles with blood-lust in his eyes. He turns away as questioning glances from the Daijoks stare him down. Uxxok and Teqqc disappear in a flash of gray light.
The Daijoks glance at one another.
Vulcan, Rhino, and Shark glare at Vaiqon.
Rhino asks, “Why did we not communicate with ourselves initially, Vaiqon?”
Vaiqon’s head droops. “Because somehow, Uxxok has learned to enter our auras without our knowledge.”
The other three Daijoks stare at Vaiqon with slightly gaping mouths.
Shark cannot believe his ears, “Surely that cannot be. We would have felt him. No one can enter another’s aura without some form of disturbance to the aura.”
Vaiqon nods. “I realize that is the rule, but rules can be broken.”
Vulcan, Rhino, and Shark mimic Vaiqon’s face of discomfort.