Xaine had just arrived to the summons and as such was still very confused at what was going on. The high elder was talking to some of the other elders and masters that Xaine had tried against, turned to acknowledge him when he arrived the rest of the room silenced.
"Ah Xaine, so glad you could make it. I"m sure you"re thoroughly confused as to what"s going on and frankly we are a little as well. As you can see we have been conversing about it for quite some time and have been trying to understand what exactly has happened."
"I"m sorry I don"t understand, isn"t this about my placement? The profession I"ve been selected to be in?"
"Yes it absolutely is and I assure you the decision has never been harder." Xaine hopes fell. He thought he had done so well in his trials, was he that far beneath the rest? Possibly noting the expression on his face, the high elder quickly continued.
"Xaine it"s important for you to know that this isn"t because you had any poor performances, on the contrary. What really has us baffled today is that you did so well and actually received a recommendation in every field."
"But even if I was recommended by everyone couldn"t you just pick the highest recommended for the field? I mean surely I didn"t do better than everyone else in every field." Xaine chuckled as he finished his statement then noticed the head elder had just smiled and said nothing.
"Wait; You mean?"
"Precisely, you were the highest recommendation from every master who tried you, which by the way, was every master we could conceive that might possibly need another hand in the near future." Xaine opened his mouth to speak, but he cut him off.
"You see Xaine, this has never happened before and it is almost entirely unheard of. This is why it takes nearly two dozen people to decide where it is you are supposed to go."
Xaine simply stood, not sure what to say, until something in what the high elder said caught his attention.
"You said that this has never happened before but that it was almost unheard of. If it"s never happened how could you have heard of it before?"
"Yes, very good question, you might actually have heard of it before as well. But as you know, some of the elders are gifted with communication from the ancestors. Some of them have seen things and said things. We as a group have come to believe that you were spoken of by one of those elders long ago. We believe that you may be a sign to our people of a very dark time ahead. It was said that someone would rise who would not be bound by the trials. Someone who would go on to even carry us out of the darkness that would fall. We believe you might be this individual. We"ve never been quite sure what it meant to "˜not be bound by the trials" but we are pretty sure we know now."
"But if I"m not bound by the trials, does that mean that; I get to choose?"
"There"s not much else we can do at this point, everyone here is nearly ready to stake their reputation that you should be trained in their field. And again, each will stake that same reputation that they, or their men, have never trained you in anything you tried in these past couple of days."
"It"s true that I"ve never been trained, but don"t you think that if this means a dark time is coming and I"m supposed to be the one to help us out of it that I should be a warrior?"
"There are other ways to beat darkness than to fight it with a sword, but I also believe that choice is a very important part of our character. And though many go through the trials and don"t have as large of an opportunity to choose as you might, this choice could very well shape who you are. Do you feel like the best thing for you is to be a warrior?"
"Is everyone here really ok with this? I mean I know I"m of age in a week but I"m still young, what if I make the wrong choice?"
"Xaine whether you are the one that was spoken of or not, there"s not a single one of us here today that can justifiably choose where you should be. Every elder that witnessed your performances agrees with the master who tried you. That includes myself which, if you recall, had the pleasure of witnessing multiple trials you underwent. So for the first time in our recorded history, we cannot choose for you. Where then Xaine, do you feel you need to be?"
Xaine stood unsure how to answer, ever since he could remember he always wanted to be a warrior. But with the knowledge that he might be required to carry the people through some sort of catastrophe he had no idea what he should do. Xaine was no fool, he knew that just because he wanted something didn"t mean it was good for him. He looked again at the people in the room, they all said nothing not willing to answer for him. Xaine thought some more and about the past couple of days and all the trials he had been through. He had always wanted to be a warrior but he now realized something inside him was still relying on the validation of where he would be placed. He simply wanted to be right that it was best for him to be a warrior- he didn"t want to have to choose it himself. After another moment of thought he spoke.
"I"m not really sure what the right choice is so I"ll just have to go with whatever felt right to me. I know that I"ve wanted it my whole life but out of the trials I"ve been through this one just felt the most natural to me. So I feel like I have to choose that. And that is to be a warrior." The high elder nodded his agreement with Xaine"s decision.
"Well then, Xaine Kaider, from this day forth you will become a warrior for your people. You will fight for your people and you will be charged with their protection. You will be trained by those more experienced and may our ancestors watch over you." Torin, who had been the veteran to try Xaine, stepped forward to shake his hand not bothering to hide the smile on his face.
"Congratulations Xaine, and very well done." Everyone else began to clear the room, some looking disappointed, others accepting the situation for what it was and moved on. Xaine began to turn and walk away before the elder stopped him.
"Xaine if you could just sit back for a moment I have some things I"d like to tell you in private. You don"t mind do you?"
"Oh, um, no sir, of course not." Xaine waited, wondering what it was that he was going to be told next. He didn"t like the way he felt at the current moment. He was torn between elation and disappointment. He had finally achieved his goal to be a warrior but he had to pick it himself. He felt great that all the other masters wanted him in their craft, but he"d hoped with all this effort that he would have shone forth as a warrior beyond anything else. And yet he also felt like he was being selfish, not because he chose what he wanted, that was actually what he felt was right, but because he had obtained his dream and wasn"t completely happy about it. Not only that but he had done so well in everything that he really should be very proud of himself or at least happy that he had done so well.
The rest of the group was leaving when the high elder finally turned to Xaine and motioned for him to sit. There were some chairs back behind where all the masters were standing and Xaine moved to fill one. The high elder sat next to him and turned to talk.
"Ah that"s better, sorry you"ve been standing this whole time." Xaine merely nodded to acknowledge his apology. He didn"t want to interrupt him and stay any longer than he had to.
"I guess we"ll get right to it then. Xaine I wanted to talk to because there"s a little more to that prophecy we spoke of. Xaine you may not be the young man spoken of but if you are it is important for you to know that you may very well have the weight of this world on your shoulders. What"s to come is supposed to be something twisted and evil and ultimately our fault. Not us specifically of course, but people in general. And it is important that you know that if you are this person then your choices could rescue us. This is another reason we could not choose for you or influence your choice at all.
"And Xaine I must warn you, whatever this darkness is, there will bring death with it. Many people will die from all nations and some may even be close to you. And I don"t say all this to frighten you I just think you need to be prepared for whatever may come. Whether this really does come true or not. Just do your best and make the choices that feel right just like you did today and I"m sure the ancestors will guide you; There"s just one more thing I want to warn you of. Word that you might be the omen will go through this town and maybe even to other settlements. But some will most likely consider you to be nothing but a curse. Unfortunately because of the prophecy and how it is worded some may take you to be the blame for it all."
Xaine was about to protest but the elder raised a hand and added "I know you haven"t done anything, nevertheless it will probably happen. Just keep your spirits up; Now on to a better subject, now that you are officially a warrior in training, you will need to report to your superior. He will assist you in preparing for your trip and he will assist you in the next steps you will need to take to obtain your ancestral weapon." Those last words from the elder finally allowed a smile to spread across Xaine"s face. After all he was thinking about what most excited him had slipped his mind, the ancestral weapon. He had finally made that last turn and was confirmed a warrior in training and would receive, as all warriors did, an ancestral weapon.
"Thank you very much sir, am I free to leave for the night?"
"Yes I have no more doom and gloom for you tonight. And congratulations on continuing your family"s legacy, your father will be proud." Xaine shook the elder's hand and bid him goodnight. He walked down the long hall to the door that led outside. Along the way he let his mind be distracted by the sound of his footfalls on the hard stone floor. The click clack sound seemed to bounce of the narrow walls and the ceiling giving an echo to his exit. He welcomed the distraction as he knew the thoughts on the edge of his mind would soon take over. Xaine reached the door and hesitated for just a moment, feeling the cold draft that flowed in from the cracks where the door met the frame. With a sigh he pushed the door open and let the flood in.
The second he stepped into the cold night the thoughts rushed in. He couldn"t help but feel like he didn"t know himself anymore. He had never been someone special before nor did he really think he was right now. Everything had changed so quickly. He was so excited to be tried and finally become part of the real working society of his people. He wanted to give everything he had to his profession which he hoped would be the same as his father"s. And now he had that but everything was different. Now he had this large unknown thing looming over his head. What if he couldn"t live up to what was required of him? What if it really is him that causes all the problems that are said to come.
Of course Xaine was going to try his best with everything he was given, but what if his best was not enough? Xaine kicked a stone down the dark path he was walking. It skipped a meter or two ahead and came to a rest. He kicked the stone again as he caught up and repeated the process until it was too far off his path to justify getting. After wrestling his mind until he was almost home he finally decided he was going to try look on the brighter side of things. He had finally become a warrior for his people. A warrior in training, but a warrior no less. He had also decided that he had no way to even know if he was the person spoken of in the prophecy or if it even was a prophecy at all. It may never come to be in the first place, in which case there was no use worrying about it until it happened.
The only thing to worry about now is how others would take it. But he knew his family and his closest friends would not accuse him of anything and decided he could live with that. Xaine approached his front door and noticed light seeping out from beneath the door. He smiled. He knew that meant his father had waited up for him and that he wouldn"t have to wait until the morning to share the good news. Of course that also brought a slight twinge of anxiety for the part he considered to be bad news as well. But nonetheless he swung open the door and greeted his father with the same smile he wore outside. His father looked up from the cup in his hand and stood calmly when he noticed Xaine enter.
"So how did it go? Judging by the grin on your face I"d say well?"
Xaine didn"t immediately reply but balled his right hand into a fist and raised it to rest on his chest, the top with the thumb and index finger facing inward. It was a kind of salute the warriors of his people used. It signified that the person saluting meant no harm to them as summoning an ancestral weapon in that position would almost certainly impale the summoner.
"Xaine Kaider, reporting to my superior as ordered"
Barrek congratulated his son and Xaine"s heart swelled in his chest as he could clearly see that he had made his father proud. The night went on and eventually he had to explain why the whole ordeal took so long and why he was tried a second day. Xaine was happy to see little worry on his father"s face as well as hearing the words of encouragement from him. They discussed what his next steps were to being a warrior. The fire dwindled to embers when they finally decided to get some rest for the tasks they would need to carry out the next day. After saying goodnight, the two went to their separate rooms. Xaine had already taken off his boots in the other room and now walked in his socks. Before taking off his day clothes he moved over to a mirror sitting above a small vanity in the back of his room. He leaned on the vanity and stared into the mirror as he often did during hard days. He searched his features carefully, looking at the different shades of color in his eyes and seeing the imperfections in his face.
"Hi brother, had kind of a rough day but the good part is I made it. I"m a warrior now, I will probably start training with dad soon. I hope you"ve been watching over me, sounds like I"m going to need it. I"ll do my best of course; For both of us." Xaine then closed his eyes let out a sigh and went about his nightly routine. Xaine finally got himself in bed and stuck to his plan to just enjoy the good in what happened for the day and let his stress fall away for now. And though he was very excited for the next steps he was also very tired and as such let himself drift off.