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The room was empty, except for a small wooden pedestal in its centre.
It smelled damp and the cold made Laiva shiver. Carefully, the testers
locked the door and then extinguished the torches; now darkness
surrounded them. No single ray of sunlight ever made it down here,
into the catacombs of the castle.
‘It’s quite easy, you see. All you have to do is illuminate
this orb, in the middle of the room, so that it lights the room. The
brighter the better.’
Laiva concentrated and an aura of pale purple light built up
around her. She knew such orbs; they were a good way to measure one’s
magic abilities and stage of training. An untrained and untalented
person wouldn’t be able to produce any visible effect at all. In fact,
you had to be quite good to make it illuminate the room even slightly.
Laiva shut her eyes. However, that was no problem for her. With her
one hand she touched the orb and felt the power flowing through her
fingertips. She covered her face with her other arm. Then she just let
the magic flow.
Laiva was sure that the last question would be a really mean one.
Until now she’d been able to answer everything correctly, but that
wouldn’t help her in the least if she failed now. The tester tried to
make a meaningful gesture, but with his bandaged arm it was laughable.
Big eyed they had watched the orb. It had been several minutes until
their sight returned to normal and in the meantime Laiva had had a
hard time avoiding being hurt in the panic.
‘How did king Gatrean I. die?’
Laiva smiled. Yes, this one was indeed mean, but she had read
the right history book; it had really been worth the time.
‘The elven king Gatrean or the other one?’
The tester silenced the crowd. Laiva and the board had just returned
to the hall of the school.
‘We announce that Laiva Azanee passed the tests.’
Somehow that didn’t sound right. Shouldn’t they announce that
they accepted her? However, that didn’t stop her from presenting the
audience with a satisfied smile.
‘However, we’ve still doubts about her qualifications.
Therefore we decided to ask her for an additional test. The search for
the ring of Argentum.’
Laiva was close to crying. She had faced so many dangers just
to come here, passed the trials and now? The ring of Argentum!
‘We have the right to do that.’
Laiva stormed out of the hall. The crowd was still silent, as
if in shock. They never believed that the school would accept a girl,
but sending her on the search for the ring wasn’t right. After all, it
was nothing but an old legend, and even if it was true, she didn’t
have the slightest chance. A tall man emerged from the crowd and
suddenly the whole hall fell silent again. He was dressed completely
in black; his cloak was black, his boots were black and he even wore
black gloves. Slowly he approached the board.
‘That must feel really good, doesn’t it? It’s so much easier
to send a girl on a futile journey, instead of giving up your
prejudices. Let her run home or die, who cares? I hope you can live
with this knowledge. You are a disgrace to the school and the order.’
Having said so he turned and left.
‘Did you see that ring?’
Impatiently Mynor pushed her. It was already getting dark and spending
the night on some cold street obviously wasn’t a good idea, no matter
how bad she felt at the moment. Laiva turned around and hugged him.
‘It hurts so much…’
Mynor licked the tears off her face and gave a her one of his
‘You are right, I can’t sit here all night. Let’s go.’
Once again they were standing around the fire.
‘We have good news.’
‘Have we good news? The mayor’s dead.’
‘He is dead, but she had been rejected.’
‘Has she? I heard they asked for another test.’
‘They asked for an unaccomplishable test. They asked her to
find the ring of Argentum.’
‘They sent her on a journey?’
‘They sent her on a journey.’
‘So the third part of the prophecy has been fulfilled.’
‘The third part… Oh. Damn.’
Odd looks accompanied Laiva on her way back to the ‘Red Dragon’. She
had made far too much of an impression at the trials not to attract
attention; probably half of the city already knew the story by now,
and the other half would surely do tomorrow. Everyone she passed
seemed to be watching her and some of them were even pointing. Finally
closing the door of her room behind her was an enormous relief. She
slipped out of her boots and, still dressed, dropped onto her bed.
Laiva instantly fell asleep.