Chapter 7: The Trials

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Edward woke up with a moderate headache from the alchohol consumed last night. Standing to the fires, he poured a hair of the dog and a bowl of a hearty chili. He ate at the rate of the other kids. A staff member gathered the group pointing at the door. Feeling very refreshed from the Fall of the Light festival he felt like he would do well. He still grabbed his tin and rolling papers if he needed a smoke, and headed out the door with the line. "Edward!" He heard while walking up the trail to the school. It was francis. "Your with me," he said. "You are with the new students." He said. Edward was almost convinced he could see a bit of excited fear in francises eyes when he said that, but was being pulled through the crowd to quickly to linger on it. He was lead by francis to a line of children, mostly of young age, 10 to 12, with a few more older people around his age sprinkled in the crowd. The clump followed a director at the front, who had a long and thin viking top braid. The trees scraped the sky above them, following the length of the trail to the castle. They kept walking, they were passing the enormous castle, into the forest beyond it. They kept walking for a great amount of time, so much so that even if you could peek above the trees you would barely see the castle. Now thoroughly worried, edward looked above the group to see if he could see anything. They reared up on a mountain, they air around them seemed to wiggle, as if there was faraway growling. "These," the announcer with the top braid boomed, "are The Trials." Knowing now why they had been led so far out, edward took a deep breath and readied himself. "You will do 4 tasks, it will show your morale, how you think, and how you perform. You will start by running the length of these orange posts," he said, pointing at wooden stakes with an orange flag bound to the top. "You will face multiple obstacles, different enemies and hostiles. All of you have your catalysts, but we highly suggest you select a weapon from the racks over yonder," he said pointing to a rack full of different weapons, all identical. "You have 5 minutes to select a weapon and prepare yourselves. I shall call you over to the starting line after 5 minutes and initiate the competition. You are not a time crunch, take your time and think things out, although the ones who make it to the end before sundown get certain privileges. Your time to prepare starts now." He finished. Edward automatically went to the weapon racks to chose a weapon so that he could get one he wanted. As he came closer he could see the utter array of weapons, daggers, arming swords, maces, halberds and other polearms, even flails. He looked across it, think about what he should use, children were now piling around it, he had to chose fast. He plucked an arming sword of the rack and felt it in his hands, it felt great yet he didnt really feel empowered by it. He looked at the blade and felt it, it was truly an exquisite weapon. While observing the sword, many kids had already taken the bulk of weapons, yet he went back to put it back. Before he put it on the rack a voice said, "hey, could i use that?" Edward turned around and saw the smallest child hed seen yet. She was at least 10, maybe younger. "Sure." Edward said, flipping it around so that the handle faced her, and pushed it into her hands. "Thanks!" She said hugging it to her and running away. Edwars smiled and looked back to the rack. He kept looking over the rack, none of the weapons really calling to him. He then saw a glint of gold behind the polearms. He pushed aside various spears and axes to reveal a gorgeous longsword, not a claymore in almost every sense except for the fact that the blade wasnt as long or thin. The guard formed a sharp V around the blade, the handle of turned leather and a pommel of a claw wrapping around an amethyst. There were many intricate engravings on the blade and handle, and just as many on the sheath. He looked at the sheath to see how to put it on. He put it over his shoulder so it was on his back, two of the straps on his shoulder and one in the pit of his other arm. He with the utter length of the blade could not unsheath it from his back, yet could always push it down to his waist. It fit him perfectly, he didnt need to adjust the belts at all. He looked into the forest and thoufht it might be called for some survival tools. He walked to a table next to the stand with an assortment of rope, firestarters, tarps, tinder, knot tieing guides, the works. He picked up two rolls of rope, a large tarp, a knife, a large hatchet, tent stakes, a tree cutter, and a flintstick. He could use the knife to scrape it. He thanked the stand holder and looked around. He saw a stand with food, which he went to immediately. He asked for a parcel of dried beef and fish, yarrow, blackberry root and leaves, and other medicinal plants. He had great knowledge in plants as Will and his parents had given him lessons and asked him about plants commonly. "It is now time!" The announcer called. Edward walked over taking deep breaths, clearing his mind. He walked to the starting line the air wiggling more now than before, as if something was getting impatient.. The rest of the children crowded around edward, some of the smaller ones poising themselves as if they were going sprint the whole way. Although edward was worried, a part of him was excited, and really, really wanted to swing the longsword on his back. And your time, starts now!" He said, many different horns sounded in the background. Edward jogged with the group and hugged the tree line, slowly seperating from the group. He had ran far enough that he could not see the starting line anymore, and was by himself, as all the others had ran on. He walked, following the orange posts, the shade of the trees cooled his skin and the babble of creeks softened his tone, the birds chirped telling him to calm himself. He walked slower and slower, running his fingers across the pines. He then heard a sound behind him. He turned slowly, to gaze upon a gnarly and mangled smile spread across an ugly oval of a head, red and orange eyes burned into him. Before edward knew what he was looking at it jumped at his face which edward managed to sidestep, pulling the sword out of his back with two hands, he didnt have time to push it to his waist. He rested the sword on his shoulder while the horrid creature laughed maniacally at his fear. It jumped at him again, this time to his shins, grabbing on fiercely. He kicked it off and swung his longsword towards it. It jumped out of the way of it and behind edward. Knowing it would jump again he spun around swinging his blade all the way. His intuition was correct, his blade hit it, throwing it backwards into a tree. It had a large gash across its front side, grabbing it and getting up. Edward didnt know what it was, what called to him, but something had told him to drive it through. He thrust his blade square through the creature, blue blood spattering his face and frontside. "Shit," edward said to himself sighing. While the, thing, had tried to kill him he still felt bad. He kneeled in front of it, looking at its abominable body. Wanting to know what it was, he used his sword to cut off its pointed ear, and plucked a tooth from its disfigured mouth to show Francis. He started to walk away but a force locked his knees in place. He turned aroumd looking at its lifeless body. He walked up to it and picked it up. How much it felt like a baby, now that it wasnt attempting to rip his face off. He walked a small way into the forest, holding its still warm and strangely soft body. He placed it down and used his bloodstained hands to dig a hole, placing its body in the hole, and piling dirt on top of it. He sat there after he had covered its body fully, his eyes heavy and trying to decide whether or not it deserved it. And then something he had heard all his life came to him. Slay humble. He knew now what it meant. The thing had tried to kill him, and he was simply protecting himself. And he felt bad. He was humble. He got up. He didnt need to linger on it, he knew that it could have lived longer, and he wished its spirit peace. He had slayed humble. He walked back to the trail and starting walking again. While still tight lunged he felt he had done the right thing. Feeling strangely empowered yet disabled, he walked on. He walked, slowly climbing the mountainside, getting higher and higher. He approached a wall with a large group of people around it attempting to climb it. Some turned around to see who it was, but immediately turned back upon seeing edwards bloodstained body and sword. "Whats this." Edwars said walking up to the wall, people stepping aside, looking at his blue hands. "Its a rock wall that some of us cant climb." A scrawny curly haired boy said to his right. "How many people cant climb it?" Edward asked. "Everyone not on top." He replied. "Hmph." Edward said to himself. It didnt seem too difficult, maybe hed climb up there then help people up. He sheathed his sword and eyed the wall. He planned out the path he would take and took a few steps back so he had a running start. He ran to the wall and jumping off it and grabbing on a large chunk taken out of it. He continued to hop his way up the wall with ease. He grabbed the top and pulled himself up quickly. He looked down at the crowd to see gaped faces, the look of awe on everyone. Even the scrawny boy who had talked to him, which was a total nerd to whom nothing impressed, looked a little surprised. He had thought of what he had just done and only then realised how quickly and athletically he had performed it. He stood there trying to comprehend how he could have possibly done that so well. Dumbstruck edward thought of a way to help all the people stuck. He walked on the path to find some birch/aspen trees. He approched one and unsheathed his blade, cutting a long strip of bark from it. He did this to multiple trees and then walked back to the base of the wall. He sat down and started twisting the bark into a cord that reached 25 feet when he was done. He tied the cord around a pine tree next to the top of the wall and threw the rest to the crowd below. The cord was quite thin so some people might not be able to climb it, but it was sure to help some people. "Thanks!" He hears the crowd say. "Yeah." He yelled as he walked away. Walking the mountain was quite gorgeous, epic and sculpted lavender clouds peeked out from behind the sky scraping hemlocks, which drove themselves into black moist soil covered in emerald grass. The grey rocks you could hardly tell were gray, as they were almost completely covered in moss. Babbling brooks out into the forest, and the large mountainside to his left. He continued walking on the trail, the mountainside so close to him he could easily run his hand on it without having to lean. The forest ahead greatly accentuated the light fog that had settled a short time after the race had begun. He walked finding it difficult to take his eyes off the forest. He had finally been able to take his eyes off the forest ahead and turned left with the path. But out of the corner of his eye he saw a faint blue glow from the forest. He looked back at the forest, and saw nothing. He put his hand up to his eye, putting his thumb in the crutch of his eye and nose, his fingers blocking out the side view. It was a thing he had always done as a kid to see things more clearly, he could with confidence say that his eyesight increased a few miles by doing it. And the blue glow had returned. Closing his right eye and squinting his left, he could see it came from a rock, just barely protruding out of the dirt. Forgetting the path in front of him he walked towards the rock. As he got closer the cold blue glow seemed more and more neon, the rock very black. He approached it, and it was hard to look at, the blue light nearly burned his eyes. Squinting he touched it, nothing happening. He looked back to the trail, would anyone see him? He ran his fingers along the soft, quartz like mineral, feeling somewhat empowered yet responsible. He looked back at the trail, it had gotten foggier, the trail slightly more difficult to see. The fog grew, thickened with every minute, edward had to get back or else he wouldnt know which way is up. He looked from the rock to the trail. He closed his eyes and gave in to gis curiousity. He drew his knife from his belt and drove the tip into where the mineral met the rock. Much harder than edward thought it was, he pushed harder. It broke through suddenly and fell to the ground. He picked it up and put it in front of his eyes. The light got softer as he touched it. Would anybody want it? What was it? He put it into a leather pouch and attached it to his waist. The fog now was so thick you couldn't see your hand should you put it 2 feet in front of you. Knowing the path was to his left he walked that way. He walked. And walked. He walked for a solid 5 minutes and still could not find even the mountainside. He turned right, maybe he was walking into the valley. Nothing, simply endless forest. He made a full 360 and finding it difficult to control his breathing, his stomqch felt like it had replaced his lungs. He forced a deep breath thinking; i need to start a fire, make a shelter i have no idea where i am, i cant risk exploring further. Edward then looked around him, he found two trees about 6 fert from eachother. He pulled the rope out of his bag and tied it around the trees, around 4 feet off the ground. He threw the tarp over the rope, driving the tents stakes in ground. He took the second roll of rope and threaded it through the stake holes on the other side of the tarp and tied it to the trees, making a small opening where you could crawl into the shelter and make a small fire and still look at it. He was getting hungry, knowing him, that probably means its just before noon, even though he ate damn near a whole pot of chili that morning. Ignoring his hunger, knowing it would go away if he did, he tried to think of how he would find firewood without getting lost, not finding his shelter. Then he thought of the thing that got him into this predicament. The stone. What did it do? It shone through the fog of the forest. He fimbled around his waist, opening the pouch and removing the stone. He set it on the ground. He got some left over rope and tied it to the tree, holding it in his hands. He slowly walked backwards, making sure he could still return. He walked farther and farther until he had reached the end of his rope. He could still see the stone in the distance. He tied the rope around his waist and searched for firewood in the amount his rope would lend him. By the time he picked up all the sticks he could see, the pile around his campfire would last him an hour at best. He found a short tree, which he cut down with the hatchet, dragging it back to camp. He cut the branches off and peeled the bark. He pulled the tree cutter out of his bag and cut the tree down into sized pieces, one pile of smaller logs to medium, then full sized. He knew it wouldnt be a while until he was cold, so he set the wood aside, so that he could make a firepit. He dug into the ground with his hands, making a small dent in the ground. He picked up some stones that were lying close to his campsite, they were flat and smooth, that means that there is likely a water source nearby. He stuck the around the pit, making a neat circle large enough that edward could just stand in. He took the branches he cut from the tree and used the needles to make a soft bed in his shelter. The air around was getting colder, the fog bluer and darker, night was approaching. Edward motioned towards the part of his bag with the flintstick, yet couldnt find it. He looked in every pocket and it wasnt there. His breathing picking up, he looked around the campsite, nowhere. He sat back down, closed his eyes and thought. What could he do? The sticks were far too wet to use, so friction fire is out of the question. He was stumped. Then a thought struck him, "channel your energy" francis had said, when he tought him to move the spoon. "Okay." He exhaled. He set the fire, ripped a piece of cotton off his shirt and put it in the middle of the pile. Focus, concentrate. Energy flowing through his veins, feeling the heat in him. Breath.. Yet the pile merely smoked. He looked over to the stone and picked it up, and held it in his offhand. Remembering his glove he retrieved it from his pocket and put it on. Focus.. Breath.. You are the heat... The energy flowed through him his arm and hand getting hot. He opened his eyes. The reason his arm was hot was that a fire was steadily burning away in the pit crackling merrily. Collapsing slightly he breathed heavy. "Fuck-" he said taking his tin and papers out of his pocket. He rolled a ciggarete and put it to the surface of a log of wood, slowly developing a rose. He put it to his mouth and puffed it. He layed down on his bed, slowly smoking it down. Finishing it he threw the roach in the fire and put his hands behind his head. "That was close." He whispered to himself. He closed his eyes again, breathing deeply and calmly. The world getting softer, and, darker, and..... .. .. .

He woke up suddenly, as his shoulders were being shaken by francis, extreme pride in his eyes. "Yeh did grea'gh son!" His irish accent accentuated by his excitement. Edward got up and looked around, he was no longer in a forest but an cave made by a plateau, with many people around him. It was still daytime. As he surveyed the room he got the idea of what just happened. That was a test. All these people and their shelters was a display of their skill. He smirked and looked at the poorly made lean-to's and tents. He kept looking around, quite amused with himself, until he saw a huddle of tarp, a beautiful arming sword on the ground and a girl young enough to be 10. It was the girl who asked edward for the sword he was holding. Her entire face was red and pink, rubbing her eyes every once in a while. All the smugness gone he walked over to see how she was doing. "Hey." He said to the girl. She looked up at him and looked back at the ground. He sat next to her and said, "You like that sword?" She looked at it and held it in her hands. The blade was slighty blue, and her hands very dirty. She experienced the same thing. She pushed the corner of her mouth to her ear when she picked it up, and furrowing her brow when she looked at the blade, and finally a look of great sadness when she ran her hands over the blue. "No," she said her face getting angry. She threw it aside and said, "i hate it." crossing her arms. "Let me guess, mangled smile pointed ears and blue blood?" Edward asked. She nodded. "It's alright, that thing tried to kill you, you should be proud of yourself that you slew it." She nodded and wiped her eyes and smiled at him. His heart melting and dripping of other organs from that smile, he asked her, "I never got your name," she held back a smirk and said, "Alex." He got up and said, "hey, slay humble." He smiled and left back towards his mansion equivalent shelter. Then suddenly, the announcer boomed over the crowd, "That was your first task. Some of you did marvelously," he said looking at edward with a smirk on his face, "and some of you not so much." Edward forgot his appreciation for the man when he glanced at Alex when he said this. "This was merely a test of character and strength, what comes next is something much more revealing. I know you must be wondering what will be next, so i will show you." He smiled and snapped his fingers. The floor of the cave dissapeared, everyone falling. They collided with darkness for a second and then the muted daylight of the overcast skies came back into view. They had appeared above a large lilac meadow, spanning inbetween to small mountains. The valley got bigger and bigger as they fell, the lilacs and dirt coming into greater view. They were 40 feet from the ground, what would catch them? Edward closed his eyes tightly, ready for impact. Then, he slowed down suddenly, like he had hit water, and slowly hit the ground, the people around him already landing with a large thud. He stood up and looked around to see if anyone was hurt. They all were just whimpering and confused, its like they hadn't been damaged at all. "You good?" Edward said to a kid with short blonde hair. "I, I think, so.." He said feeling around his body. Edward stood there feeling stupid that he didn't realise the fact that if there was magic to make ground disappear, there was magic to stop a fall. It took a minute for everyone to shake themselves off and get their heads back in the game. All of them were now standing around trying to figure out what to do, talking to friends and looking around. Abruptly, a line of the lilacs burst into orange with a spurt of purple petals falling to the ground. Edward shrugged to the group and started walking aside the orange flowers. Everyone else quickly followed. They walked until they reached the edge of a forest. There were 6 different paths, all of them had a sign with an illustration and torch, all a designated colour. "Hmm." Edward said to himself.

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