"Well now that you have finished your studying are you ready for your examination?” the Silver Prince asked sarcastically.
“I believe that I have studied long enough. I am assuming that I will not be taking the examination at the Heptagram like some of my relatives?” Drakoran cynically replied.
“No I’m afraid not, you might be wishing for their exam though, like I told you initially this process is not easy, and the way I learned was a bit less catering than what is now taught to the young spoiled Dynast brats.”
“Are you inferring something?” Drakoran said raising an eyebrow?
“Certainly not. The way I was taught should be a bit more suited for you being the brilliant martial artist that you are. But let us begin.”
The Silver Prince begins to lecture in the monotonous voice of an elementary teacher seeming to recall a memorized speech.
“In order to learn the rudiments of sorcery you must become attuned to the elements. This is why you must learn the terrestrial circle before you can move on to the more superior circles. First you must pass a test of earth, which will teach you the patience required to learn and understand what it is you are using. Second is the test of fire. This will teach you to withstand the awesome power that you are tapping into. Third is a test of air, which will teach you the concentration necessary to use your powers even under the most arduous conditions. Fourth is a test of water, which will give you the mettle and resolve that a sorcerer requires. And finally is a test of wood, where you must face yourself and overcome your own limitations and frailties.”
“That’s all well and good but what exactly do I have to do?”
“You’re always in such a hurry. Right now all you need to do is arrange a business trip to the South.”
The Test of Earth:
“So how do you know about these places?” Drakoran asked.
“Because I did the same thing you are doing right now a couple millennia ago” replied the Prince.
“But how do you know that these places still even exist?”
“I don’t to be perfectly honest. But there are certain places in the world that are less affected by the passage of time for one reason or another. Ahhh there it is now, just as it was back then.”
Drakoran stared ahead at a single sandstone pillar rising out of the ground in the endless sea of desert.
“Well now what?” Drakoran asked.
“Now we climb up that rock and prepare to make you comfortable. It is going to be a long night.”
As he slowly climbed up the sheer rock face the Prince began to inform Drakoran on the details of the trial.
“As you can see there is no sign of any life around here and it is not just because of the climate. There is a reason that no one comes here. During the day it is safe enough, as safe as these deserts get anyhow, but at night that all changes. There is a swarm of insects that comes out at night, no one really knows where they are from. All that anyone knows is that they will devour any living thing they can find. However they can’t see, and they can’t smell. But their hearing is excellent, and more importantly they can sense even the tiniest of movements.”
“So in other words I sit on top of this rock without so much as a twitch from dusk until dawn or else be completely devoured by swarms of flesh eating insects?”
“More or less. I suggest that if you need to eat, drink, or relieve yourself that you do it now.”
After taking care of all his last minute details Drakoran stripped off his clothes, laid a blanket out on top of the rock and sat down. He assumed a position that he hoped would be comfortable enough and would keep his blood circulating and watched as the last ray of sun went down in the west.
“I would suggest closing your eyes now” the Prince said, “unless you think you can go the whole night without blinking. Whatever you do though, don’t fall asleep. I’ll be checking out now and leaving you to your own thoughts, I’m sure you can find something interesting in that head of yours besides me, have a pleasant evening.”
A few moments later Drakoran began to hear the drone of the bugs, it seemed to come from everywhere all at once, and soon it was the only thing he could hear. The drone was the only thing that existed in the world. At first it was just an annoying hum, but after an hour it seemed almost deafening.
The night seemed to go on forever. He tried to sink into many of his meditations learned from his martial training but the noise of the insects was too distracting. He started to feel pain in his legs and his muscles began to ache, begging to move. As the night continued the pain steadily increased and the noise became more incessant. At some point one of the insects landed on him which he did not notice, until it crawled over one of his eyelids. It’s spiny legs dug into the skin and pulled away as it moved in an extremely unsettling manner. He tried to imagine what the thing must have looked like, which kept him occupied for a while even after it had flown off.
The night drew on and now there was no more pain, Drakoran felt nothing but a numb tingling that ran throughout his entire body. As the first ray of sunlight came up he could hear the drone of the insects fleeing back to wherever they had come. He opened his eyes and was almost blinded by the dim light. He tried to stand but found his legs to be useless.
“Well I’m glad to see that you made it through the evening” The Silver Prince said wryly. “I’m afraid we aren’t going to get a whole lot of traveling done today, I imagine it will be at least another hour before you can even stand up. Take your time, but please just make sure that we get out of here by nightfall.”
“Well then do me a favor, wake me up at least an hour before nightfall” Drakoran said as he collapsed backwards and fell into an uncharacteristically peaceful sleep.