(I’ve begun putting together a new world concept, and this story was written to try to flesh out an individual aspect a little more. A primer on the world of Olkir can be found here.)
Roughly two dozen students stood on the dirt-covered plateau at the volcano’s base. Most were young, though some had a few more years on them, but all were outfitted identically: a sleeveless red robe, and shoulder plates of the same color that each rose into three curved points. Conversations came to a close as someone approached the gathering, an older villager with red skin who wore the same style of robe and shoulder armor, though hers were colored pale blue. She carried what appeared to be a metal rod in her hand, but did not use it as a walking stick. When she reached the plateau, she stopped, faced the group, and glanced them over silently.
“Well then,” she finally said. “I am Master Riiun. You are all here because my former pupils have deemed you to have the potential to learn Kardata, but as you have surely suspected, their judgment is not final. If I find you lacking, you will be sent away. I advise you take these studies seriously.”
She sat down. After a moment, she looked up at the students, and hastily gestured for them to do the same.
“Kardata is a sacred art that has become renowned as the pride of the Fire Tribe. When mortals were born, Torch the Fire Slizer reached down to this island with his flaming palm, and planted one tiny ember within each of our souls, a flame that is passed from parent to child on throughout the generations. To use Kardata, we call upon this primordial gift, and learn to wield the flame given to us by Torch at the dawn of time.”
Riiun closed her eyes and breathed deeply.
“The flame burns within us all. Look deep within yourself, and you can feel it flickering.”
She looked from one student to the next.
“This is where your training begins: you must learn to feel the flame you bear, be able to reach into it at a moment’s notice, without even thinking. But for now, simply learn to find it.”
An orange-skinned student gave her a puzzled look. “That’s all we’re doing? What comes next?”
Riiun stared at him. “…Next, you will learn to stoke that fire—to let it leap high in a blaze of passion. Then, you will learn to contain that prominence. After that, you will learn to direct it, as well as basic forms. Once you have mastered all of this, we will move on to weapons.”
“What if we already know how to use elemental weapons?”
“Then you should have no problem with this phase of the training. Now, focus.”
The student sighed. “I thought the point of Kardata was using elemental weapons. Can’t you just teach me about that?”
Riiun’s eyes were growing narrower. “You will follow the training I have just detailed. Focus.”
Shaking his head, the student muttered, “What a waste of time…”
Exhaling sharply, Riiun rose to her feet. “Do you have a weapon?”
The student produced a short sword.
Eagerly, he ran to the front of the clearing. Riiun remained where she stood, holding her staff behind her, and the student readied his sword.
The student started forward, but before he could make it two steps, Riiun thrust her staff in the direction of his feet. When it stopped moving, a sharp tongue of flame emerged from the end of it, leaving a scorch mark in the dirt and making the student jump back. Riiun used several more such thrusts to push him back, until he charged at her from the side. She twirled, pulled back the weapon, and sent the short sword flying; before the student even realized what was happening, the master had struck the side of his head and sent him sprawling, raising her weapon after to illustrate the opening for a finishing blow.
Riiun turned and took a few paces away, saying, “Retrieve it.”
Stunned, it took the student a moment to gather his bearings. When he did go to reclaim his weapon, Riiun held hers up and faced the class.
“This is known as the Scorching Pike. It is a weapon made with volcanore that is used exclusively by Kardata practitioners, because we are the only ones who have been able to master its use. Perhaps one day some of you will be able to master it.”
When the student returned, he muttered, “You should’ve said that earlier.”
“You assumed it wasn’t an elemental weapon?” Riiun asked. “That is your fault.”
“…Okay, don’t make assumptions. Now that I know that—“
“Is that all you learned?”
Riiun planted the pike in the ground, and then came to face the student. “Begin.”
The frustrated student made a wide swing. Riiun ducked and darted in, knocking his sword arm back with her elbow, and uppercut his jaw. As he was sent sprawling, he dropped his sword once again.
“Every tribe has elemental weapons,” Riiun explained as she went back to her pike. “If you ever leave this island, or if anyone comes here to challenge you, you will most certainly fight someone wielding one of them. But villagers are not like the Coronet or Toa. We may be able to manipulate the elements using these weapons, but we have no innate ability to conjure them. A sunslinger without their Sun Gun is but a simple villager. In a battle between elemental weapon users, being disarmed means death.”
Looking over her shoulder, she continued, “Kardata is best known for its use of volcanore weapons. But what sets it apart is that even if we lose those weapons, we can still win the fight. We may utilize these weapons, but we are not bound to them like other tribes. We are weapons. Do you understand?”
The student sat up, rubbing his jaw. “…Yes, Master.”
“Good. Please rejoin the class.”
As he sulked back to his spot, Riiun uprooted her pike and sat back down. “We’ll have silence now, everyone. You must learn to focus.”