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Ancestor Chapter 3: Trials
By
Nexeus

Ancestor Chapter 3: Trials

Chapter 3 of Ancestor

Today is the day I guess... Today is finally the day that I will get to go through the trials. I always thought when I got to this point I would be nothing but excited. But truth be told I am really nervous. I have a lot going for me when I really think about it. We have a few generations of fighters in my family which usually helps you to get into the same field. The magic is usually stronger when passed down to the same professions. And like my father said I have actually trained myself fairly well with the sword. But then again they will not pick just anyone to be a warrior for our people. There’s a lot of responsibility that comes with that role not to mention they get an ancestral weapon. Oh right dad said I should tell you what those things mean in case you don’t know, you know to preserve the history and all that. But anyway the warriors of our people get an ancestral weapon which is a weapon that is imbued with magic that is brought from the souls of our ancestors. It is said that they reside in the weapons and watch over us. This also gives the weapon special properties and usually grants the user special abilities. I don’t know what ancestor they would call to help me or what it would do but I know I want to be a warrior like my father.



I like to help people and I feel like that is the best way to do it. As a warrior you are supposed to watch over the village or investigate problems or dangers to the people. You are supposed to be a protector and help even other towns if they need us. I just hope I am good enough to make it, I hope I don’t get put in anything else I get tested in. We had to turn in our requests yesterday of what we wanted to be tried in. But they always try you in things that are needed around the town as well if the elders or the masters determine you could have potential in it. I hope they don’t find too much that they think I could do other than being a warrior. Maez told me to just try to do bad in the fields I don’t want to end up in. But I don’t think I can do that.

I want to be a warrior but I also want to be where I’m most needed and I want to do my best in whatever I am tried in. I also think the elders know some of the trial candidates will try that and watch for it. They are not stupid after all. Well the messenger should be here any minute with my schedule, which is what will tell me what I will be tried in today, so I suppose that’s all for today.

Xaine put down his writing utensil and closed the small book with his name on it. He wondered if the book really would get larger as he wrote in it but swept the thought away. It was still early in the morning but he knew he would not be going to the meeting place today as usual. He would be reserved the whole day for the trials, though many people didn’t take all day, they still had them wait just in case. Xaine moved away from his rough wooden desk and went to lie down on his bed to stare at the ceiling and wait. Lost in thought and nervousness about the day ahead he knew no matter how long he stayed there he wasn’t going to get tired enough to nod off. He would be ready as soon as someone knocked on the door to deliver his trials.

It wasn’t much longer before there was a rapping on his house's front door. He heard the door open and bolted from his bed faster than he had meant to. He opened his bedroom door and strode through to the living room and the front door. He saw his father Barrek at the door conversing with the man who stood just outside. He must have been as anxious as Xaine was.

“Please come in,” Barrek told the messenger who was rummaging in his bag for the right piece of parchment.

“Thank you but I can’t stay long, ah here it is, and here’s Xaine perfect timing ma boy.” He handed the parchment to Xaine and tipped his hat to Barrek. “I’ll be on my way then, good morning to you.” And with that the man departed to deliver the messages to the other youths being tried. Xaine simply stood holding the rough piece of paper that was rolled up like a scroll. His father turned to him, “well are you going to open it or just stand there?”

Xaine startled . “Oh right,” he said and began to unroll the paper. He hated the scratching sound the paper made as the ends scraped against one another and winced slightly at it. “ It says… Um… I only have three!” Xaine said excited as he finished it. “They want to try me at the blacksmith, the fields, probably because I’ve done a lot of that, and they want to try me to be a warrior!”

“Well you didn’t think they would ignore your request to be tried for a warrior did you?”

“Well, no but it’s great seeing it in ink, I actually get to be tried as a Warrior. Do you think I’ll make it? I really hope I make it. Who do you think they would call to help me?” Xaine continued to spout off question after question at his father, he answered when he felt he had the space to talk but mostly just smiled down at him. “So when is your first trial? And which one is it?”

Xaine looked back at his document again “uh, looks like it’s in a couple hours at the blacksmith. I really want to be a warrior but I’m kind of interested to see what I get to do at the blacksmiths.” The next couple of hours went by fairly quickly as Xaine prepared himself for the day ahead. He had an idea of what he would need for the field work but wasn’t sure what he needed for the blacksmith and decided to just bring the same tough gloves his dad had and boots. Since nothing was mentioned on the paper and smithing is highly specialized he assumed the smith would have everything else he might need.

Xaine grabbed his normal bag and headed for the door he was stopped at the sound of his father's voice. “Were you planning on sneaking off without me?”

“You’re coming with me?”

“Of course I am, why did you think I was waiting around with you all day. They gave all the parents a day off as well so we can be there for support and to make sure you actually do your tasks well.”

“I had a sneaking suspicion they had a way around it if you faked not being good at something. Now I know how they do it. But either way I’m glad to have you come I thought I had to do it alone.”

“Well you will still have to actually DO it alone but I can support you in moral.”

Xaine smiled and the two strode out the door and towards the smith. Upon arriving to the building he knew as the blacksmith a burly thick-bearded man waited with arms crossed. “You Xaine?”

“Uh, Yes sir,” Xaine said stretching his hand out to shake the man’s. The man took it and his calloused rough hand gripped hard onto Xaine’s. Xaine tried to shake firmly in response and avoid wincing as he felt like his hand was being crushed in a vice.

“Firm shake, I like that. Name’s Krisz. Follow me,” the man said as he turned to walk inside his shop. Xaine began to follow wondering if the trial had already started and if the handshake made any difference at all. They walked through the shop and the smith beckoned farther into the back room where the forge was stationed. The room was quite large and had the forge on the wall to Xaine’s right. The two corners directly to the back of the room and to Xaine’s left were almost entirely large doors rigged to be slid opened to air the space out. Scattered about the room were various benches and tools used for the weapon forging process.

“We’ll have to wait a few minutes for one of the elders to get here they need to be here to observe the trial. But he should be here any minute I told him to come on back if we weren’t waiting outside. So did you come here by request or order? Not that it matters either way.”

“I came by order sir, I’m aiming to be a warrior like my father. But I am interested to see what I do here today.”

The man was about to reply but was cut off by the arrival of one of the elders. He was a slightly older man of average height, his face was beginning to show lines around his eyes and mouth. He was average height and had well kept, short, white hair.

“I hope I didn’t keep you all waiting too long, my joints kept me at a rather slower pace today.” Despite his advanced age he was very alert and attentive and looked Xaine up and down the moment he entered.

“You didn’t keep us much we just arrived in here not moments ago. Shall we get started?”

The blacksmith said bluntly, ready to get the day going. He wasn’t a man who particularly liked to wait.

“Hello Xaine, I will be watching over the trial here to evaluate your performance, please try your best whether you requested this one or not. After it is completed you will be free to go to your next trial and Krisz and I will have a chat about how it turned out. Let’s begin then, shall we Krisz?”

The burly man nodded then moved to speak with Xaine again and give him instruction. “What I’ve done here is I’ve laid out some tools and things we would need to make a general sword. Now fully making a sword takes many hours and I know we don’t have that kind of time today so I have a sword in each state of creation here for you to use. This will allow us to judge how you do in each phase of the sword making process without having to spend the many hours it takes to fully make one.”

“First up is this over here when making a sword it’s important to first pick a base material, I’ve laid out some general materials you may want to use and I’d like you to do what you will with them and decide what you’d like to use.” Krisz indicated several oblong chunks of metal sitting on one of the tables around the room.

“May I ask questions?”

“You may,” Xaine moved to the table and started picking up each piece of metal, weighing them in his hands and feeling the texture of each.

“Each piece seems around the same size but they definitely don’t weigh the same. Which means some of them may be denser I would lean towards one of the denser ones but just in case are any of the lighter metals here particularly stronger than the dense ones?”

“Good question, a lot of the strength will have to do with what we add to it and how we temper it, but we can typically get a good balance from that one there as far as weight and strength.” He pointed at one near the middle.

“Ok I think I want that one then since I know I’d want a sword that is strong but as light as possible as well. And you actually answered my next question which was if we can add to it later or not.” The blacksmith nodded seemingly pleased with his pick and moved to another part of the room.

“Alright next we will be heating the forge and working some metal so we need to open the doors here.” The moved to the two large doors and slid each one open. He then continued to stoke the small fire that was burning in the hearth and had Xaine use what he could to increase the heat to the desired temperature. Once the fire was sufficiently hot he took a long piece of metal roughly formed into the long shape of a sword with no blade and stuck it into the fire with tongs. He showed Xaine the proper technique for heating the metal and proper safety precautions then let Xaine take over and only stopped or interrupted him when he might have been a danger to himself or the shop.

Nevertheless Xaine seemed to make few mistakes, if anything he thought he was doing rather well and enjoyed being able to succeed in his work without many corrections from the master smith. The trial itself went on very similarly. One time during the forming of the blade of a sword, the blacksmith had even commented that Xaine was the first person he had taught who picked up the technique so quickly. He had even asked to make sure this was indeed Xaine’s first time. This of course made Xaine very happy and also very nervous. he wanted to do a great job but he didn’t want to do so well that he would be picked for this profession, he still wanted to follow his father's footsteps.

After over an hour of hard and exhausting work, Xaine moved on to the next Trial for the day. With his arms already aching, he was dreading the field work he thought would be associated with his next task. However he was pleasantly surprised that a lot of the trial was questions posed by the owner on the fields. He did have Xaine perform a few tasks for the elder that was observing but mainly asked questions on what to do in various circumstances. He said it showed the ability to be ingenuitive and resourceful as these traits are desired in a farm hand or in raising livestock.

After his second trial was finished Xaine headed to his next trial as early as possible. He knew this was the one he wanted but he also knew that when they tried you to be a warrior you were tested in skills of combat. This of course was seen as the main event for most everyone and was the only event with spectators. He arrived early not only because he was excited but he wanted to spectate as well. As he and his father found a good place to sit, a young man was being tried. The young man stood several yards from another man who was one of the veterans doing the testing. Each wore armor but they afforded the testee extra protection incase of accidents and the veteran always used a simple sword that they could control well enough to ensure further safety for those being tried.

They stood on a large wooden platform that was built for the occasion. The two began to slowly circle one another looking for a good moment to attack. Or at least the veteran was waiting for a moment to attack the young man was doing what was typical of someone inexperienced, unsure of his abilities and nervous, he simply kept circling hoping to be able to defend himself when the other man attacked. The other man didn’t make him wait long by the time they had pivoted about half way around the wide circle he lunged in at his prey, bring his sword up then down in a slanted arc across the front of the young man. The young man, still nervous, swung his sword wildly to deflect his foe's weapon. There was a loud clang as he succeeded but almost lost his own sword.

As Xaine watched he couldn’t help but see the holes in the young man’s stance and thought he could do better. Then the thought occurred to him that he actually would have to prove that sometime today and he shrank back a little. It wasn’t long before the young man was disarmed the first time. In the trials they had a set of rules, which would limit the amount of time each person being tried would only have a certain amount of time in front of the elders and the other assessing them. This allowed them to have a definite ending point to each match and the end of their trial. Being disarmed or knocked from the ring would be the end of the first round and push the testees to try harder in the final round. Each match only consisted of two rounds unless the veteran assessing them requested more time.

It was only a few more minutes before the young man was disarmed again and his match was complete. There were still a few more people to be tested before Xaine got the the chance to prove his mettle and he watched eagerly trying to pick out any pointers he could use for himself as the battles went on. One by one the contestants dropped, some lasting longer than others, and each time the elders would call the next person to be tried. Each match was filled with cheers when the teenager did well and laughter when they did not so well. The crowd now was cheering at a young woman being tried as a warrior, and doing quite well, when she was finally disarmed a second time. The veteran went over to give her a hand up and shook her hand. He then went to the benches that were set for the veterans to sit and change out after they were sufficiently tired to do so. I fresh veteran took his place on the platform and grabbed a sword from a stand of weapons at one end. Once ready he waved to the elder who took note, stood, and began reading down his list of names.

“Next and last to be tried today, Xaine Kaider, please come forward your trial will now begin.”

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