Chapter 6 Trial By Fire

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Serilda stands on a metal pole surrounded by fire. The burning rod digging into her bare foot. Not only must she hold her balance on one leg but also keep the other out of the reach of the flame. Also balancing on such a smooth surface takes intense focus and she had practiced with water first.

"To become a Lasiq you must first become fearless and impenetrable to pain. You cannot fear death." The master circles his student watching as her aching limbs tremble but maintain center. Her skin covered in sweat from the heat and face contorted in concentration.

"Focus your breathing." He continues to circle her watching as she follows his instruction. "Do not pay attention to the pain rather the feeling of the balance you hold. The strength you build and the power you maintain."

"Power master?" She speaks through gritted teeth. "Yes power. Power over your body, the reach of the flames, the pain you endure. There is power in this entire exercise." She refocused on her breathing taking deep breathes and narrowing her focus on the power. The ache becomes a silent thought while focusing on the other things. Balance, center, power.

"Tell me what are you feeling right now?" He demands not letting her slip into her own mind. Keeping herself focused and in the present aware of everything around her is harder than she thought it would be. But Serilda refuses to give up.

"The pole is hot it's bearable. The flames aren't within reach of my flesh." Serilda says nervously.

"Let's increase the heat then." The master says as he throws more wood into the fire. Cinders rise from the burning wood. Her eyes open as she watches the flames engulf the newly added log. Growing in heat and length she is forced to refocus and adjust herself. Lifting her foot higher, arms straighter, locking her knees as she finds her center.

"Now tell me how you feel?" Serilda opens her mouth only to let out screams of pain when a flame brushes against her bare leg.

"You must learn to endure the worst pain." He says calmly briefly losing her balance the flames lick her hands as well. Grinding her molars she pulls herself back up into her position. Heat burning until she can't stay quiet any more.

"You will stand there until you stop screaming." He says then leaves her to her agony.

"If you can withstand this trial you can withstand anything." He says before disappearing completely. Breathing through everything she continues to endure. The burns will not leave lasting damage but there will be a memory of them.

After hours of standing on fire hot metal the master returns and Serilda screams have ceased.

"Very good, Serilda you have passed this trial." The master says then puts out the flames. She falls from the pole landing on her bottom when she hit the ground. Gasping for air her throat raw and eyes burning from the tears she shed. The master holds out a water pouch offering it to her. She drinks her fill. The cool water soothing her throat and replenishing her dehydrated body.

"Come let me treat your wounds." He guides Serilda back to Lamasar.

"Master, will all the trials be like that one?" Serilda asks as her master treats her wounds.

"All your trials will push you to your breaking point. It's your job to pull yourself back ready to endure again. When you leave here you will be a different person you will know no pain or fear. You may return when you are sixteen to continue your training." He says as he wraps her feet in bandages.

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