Kisara and Kit had been called in that Saturday so that somebody could finally explain the tier system and what it meant. Supposedly this guy was some kind of expert, although Kit wasn’t sure how anybody could be an expert at something like this, he supposed he’d find out. Kisara didn’t seem the least bit curious about what it meant. Kisara, Foxie, and I waited there in the classroom that Saturday morning for our tutor to show up.
“I don’t really care what this is about honestly... I have no intention of dirtying my hands with something like fighting. I’m a general... I have commoners that will fight for me!” Foxie announced after waiting for an hour.
It was fifteen minutes later that the door came open and a young panther stepped in. He was dressed from head to toe in a snow white suit, on his left breast he bore a bronze medallion emblazoned with the number 5, and on the right side of his color was a circular gold colored badge designed with a fence in the middle. Kit had seen this particular badge on only a few students at the school, though all students wore a badge of some sort somewhere, this was a unique place, and this one was a rare color, gold was among the rarest of the colors you’d find, only about 1 in 100 students had one. “Sorry to keep you waiting for so long, I had... an unexpected matter I was forced to attend to. My name is Tobias Long, but you can feel free to call me Tobi,” he introduced himself kindly.
Kit had heard the name Tobias Long several times this week, he’d been the subject of gossip due to his status among the students. Somehow he was a year above Kit and Kisara, but he managed to secure the top ranking among students at the school... the best fighter around.
“Nice to meet you,” Kisara told him in a disinterested tone.
“You’re Kisara correct? I heard you defeated Jenny pretty handily... I could use somebody of your skills in the Cage,” Tobi appealed to her gently.
“You mean the pack of bullies that run this school? Not interested,” Kisara responded calmly.
“And this one must be Kitachi Sunahama, training for less than six months and already you’ve engineered quite a name for yourself within the school. I admit I was impressed with your victory over one my lieutenants, even if was because Cassius got cocky. For somebody of your inexperience to defeat a fifth tier fighter... I expected them to award you the fourth tier; it’s a shame. You’ve got potential, but we don’t need somebody of your relative inexperience, just yet. I see that you’ll advance to the fifth tier soon enough; perhaps then we shall speak again,” Tobi told Kit.
“You’re not supposed to be here for recruiting purposes,” Foxie reminded him in an irritated voice.
“My apologies, my position at the head of the cage has made me rather... zealous in the pursuit of it’s potential allies. I’m here to teach you about the tier system used at the school. As you know Saint Roderick’s is a school designed to breed great martial artists, to instill this system we have rated all of us students and put us into five tiers based on skill and experience. The higher the tier the better the fighter. Officiated duels are the only way for a person to increase their own rank within the school. To discourage bullying it was established that students can only challenge students of an equal or higher tier; thus fighters such as myself can’t force the lower tiers into a mismatched duel. Each fighter is advised against challenging a student that is two tiers or higher above them... these fights would be entirely one-sided and serve no purpose as the difference in experience can’t be expected to teach the youngster anything,” Tobias began to explain.
“What’s the point of these duels to begin with?” Foxie asked him.
“To give the students first hand combat experience in a safe environment. During the course of growing up this is a relatively safe way to prepare martial artists for the world outside these doors... in the real world the cost of inexperience would be death, here it’s just a deep wound,” Tobias explained.
“And I’m sure the cage takes the utmost pride in their duels,” Foxie commented.
“We rose to the top of the ladder the same way anybody else would, we fought battles and we won,” Tobi explained.
“Battles? Those don’t sound like duels,” Kit commented.
“They aren’t... essentially they are duels between groups of students, each individual within a group or club can choose to participate, if they do it’s like a free-for-all battle between the two sides... the idea is to promote teamwork,” Tobi told us.
“How does a person get into a duel or battle?” Kisara asked him.
“Each of you is given a coin to represent yourself, your personal sigil is on one side while your the emblem of your dojo is on the back. To initiate a duel all a challenger has to do is offer their coin to another in any manner. If a referee is nearby it can begin immediately, or if a bigger venue is desired by one side they can appeal for one of the stadium floors in the gym, or for the grand arena floor if it is a particularly heated situation. Both sides have to agree, so just because you offer a challenge doesn’t mean it will be accepted,” Tobi explained quickly.
“Weapons?” Foxie asked.
“If a person specializes in a weapon they have no duty to disclose it to their opponent before the battle begins, this is why most of our unarmed specialists at the school use some sort of weaponry protection in-case they enter into a battle with an armed fighter,” Tobi explained.
“Are you telling me that somebody could come at me with a knife?” Kit asked anxiously.
“It’s a risk you’ll face out in the world Kit; you’re new to martial arts, so you haven’t had the experience of a crossbow in your face, trust me you’ll learn how to fight in that situation here,” Tobi reassured me.
“With all this violence it’s a wonder your students have time to study their subjects,” Foxie commented.
“You MUST be Foxie... Jenny told me you were ambitious, but that you lacked fighting experience of your own. You’re a rabblerouser, and I intend to keep a close eye on you. Nothing you do here will escape my notice, I won’t let you manipulate this school into a state of chaos. We of the cage have sworn an oath to protect the school from the likes of you,” Tobi told him solemnly as he took a step toward Foxie. It sounded almost like a threat, but Foxie didn’t seem perturbed in the least; he held his ground proudly.
“Back off of him or you’ll have to deal with me,” Kisara said as she stepped in front of Foxie, face to face with Tobi.
“My apologies, I didn’t mean to come across as menacing, my zeal is sometimes the better of my judgment,” he apologized as he took a step back. “This isn’t the time for our confrontation,” he amended as he turned to leave.
“Those that are loudest in their threats are weakest in their actions,” Foxie responded.
“You want a threat? Here it is... if I smell you cooking up something that even looks like it could incite trouble I’ll come down on you hard,” Tobi warned him.
“You come down on him and I’ll make you regret it,” Kit said as he too stood in front of Foxie.
“It seems your actions will spread pain across the campus, but only so long as you have another to defend you,” Tobi bit out at Foxie before he turned to leave.
It was an awkward moment standing there as Tobi walked away. “Pleasant fellow don’t you think?” Foxie remarked after he left.
“He’s in charge of the biggest gang in the school. He’ll have a tough time coming after me, but Kit I’m afraid you just made yourself into a big target,” Kisara told him. They left the school together, Kit and Kisara walking Foxie home to be sure he was safe... he didn’t like Kisara the whole time, and even insisted a few times that Kit would be enough. ~
Tobias Long was frustrated with his first meeting. That hadn’t gone as planned at all. He’d hoped to swing Kisara, though she was so advanced in her training that she was most likely going to be set in her ways, his true target had been Kitachi Sunahama. He was new to the fighting world and would be relatively impressionable. He was infatuated with Kisara whether he knew it or not, and that had been an unexpected obstacle he couldn’t handle.
Kisara didn’t see the bigger picture, she was too much of a martyr to see that the cage was a good thing... she must have heard of them in the past. Some of his followers gave his vision a bad reputation, but he had hoped that his reason could get the better part of her valor. Then came the second surprise obstacle, one with no fighting skills himself.
Tobias caught hold of Foxie’s aura just a moment after he’d met him, but he wouldn’t let Foxie slide under the radar any more. He’d manipulated the situation expertly, he was a threat... Tobi could see that Foxie was going to poison the waters of his school. The cage would deal with Foxie in time. For now he needed more soldiers, and Kitachi Sunahama was a very promising candidate, his zeal would make him a powerful ally of the cage.
“How’d it go captain?” Jenny asked him.
“Not as well as hoped, but it can be handled. I want you to turn that duo we caught last month, the tier 3s that overstepped; send them out after Foxie and anybody around... be sure either you are Cassius are seen opposing them before allowing Sunahama to step in. With his strength it should be enough. I want him to see us for who we are,” Tobi commanded her.
“I’m not sure I understand the point of giving them free reign just to take it away publicly?” Jenny responded.
“Kit’s a hero, if he sees that we’re heroes too he’s more likely to join us, this way we can plant the seed, but gardening is an endeavor of patience. I’ll appear to him when the time is right. This is a subtle game we play, and Kit is very malleable... he can be turned into the weapon we need. Kitachi Sunahama will destroy everything that Foxie builds for us, he only has to be made to see.