Xaine finished up his writing and headed out to the main room where his dad was already waiting. He had a little deja vu from the same situation a few days ago when he waited for his list of trials. He asked his father what the training would consist of and why they would need to leave the town but he just responded that he couldn"t actually tell him until the papers came. They continued to talk about the usual things they did in the morning- how each other slept, the strange dreams one or the other had, until finally there was a knock on the door. The same man who delivered Xaine"s trials list was there to greet him upon opening the door. The man handed the folded up paper to Xaine and congratulated him on his placement. Xaine thanked him and took the letter.
After closing the door Xaine began to unfold it, almost unable to wait to see it all in writing. Though some part of Xaine also was a little nervous that the elders had changed their mind and placed him somewhere else over night. It got it all the way open and began reading.
Xaine Kaider, it has been decided by the elders that you will be trained as a warrior under the supervision of your father, Barrek Kaider. As a warrior, it is your duty to protect our town and it"s people. As part of your initial training you will be required to prepare yourself for a training mission. You will meet with a group of veterans and other trainees in the town"s center in 2 days time. Your superior, Barrek, will guide you in the specifics of preparation.
After reading it Xaine realized there were two pages. The other was addressed to his father and he handed it to him.
"So what does it say?"
"I"m sure it says much the same as yours, I"ve gotten my new instructions to train you, and direct you through your next steps to prepare for our trip."
"What"s the first step?"
"First we will be heading to the blacksmith in a coupe hours. Get something to eat, we will probably be there for a while. We are going to get you and the blacksmith ready to make your ancestral weapon. But just so you don"t get your hopes too high I want you to know you won"t be taking one home with you today. You will be using swords similar to what you used in your trials until your new weapon is complete."
Xaine heeded his father"s advice and made himself something simple to eat for breakfast. He wanted to make sure he had the strength for the day but also something small enough that to stay down with his nerves. He didn"t know what the ceremony consisted of but he knew they would be attempting to bring an ancestor of Xaine"s to his aid. Xaine had that feeling again that the went by much too quickly and altogether not quickly enough. But the time did pass and they were on their way to the blacksmith. He had asked his father multiple times what would happen at the blacksmith"s but he always got the same response. "You"ll see." They continued down the stone paths until they finally turned the last corner and the smith was just ahead. The blacksmith himself was not outside to greet them this time so they entered into the shop on their own.
A small bell rang as the door opened and a voice in the back of the shop beckoned them to come further. So they went behind the counter and through the door they had before. They were greeted by the 5 elders there for the ceremony which included the high elder. The other 3 warrior trainees were already there as well. The blacksmith was putting the last things in their places before they began. Once he was finished he turned to the elders.
"Is this all of em?" The head elder nodded. "Well then lets get started. We will just go about this alphabetically I suppose. What you will do is you will come by the materials here and you will need to tell me what materials you think should be used to create your weapon. But we first want you to have the guidance of the ancestors so the elders will prepare you for receiving assistance then we will move on to the materials to forge."
He stopped talking and seemed to just assume the elders would pick up where he left off. Surprisingly enough to Xaine they actually did. Probably accustomed to the blunt attitude of the blacksmith, Xaine thought.
"Alright, trainees will need to remove their shirts so we can begin."
"Um, sorry?" A young woman spoke up, it was the same one who had tried before Xaine to be a warrior and had done very well.
"Oh, uh right, we"ll just need you to roll up your weapon arm sleeve up to the shoulder. The gentlemen will remove their shirts as it makes the process much easier. Each of your trainers will now start the appropriate markings on your arms. These are temporary they will last only a few days and they do not hurt so don"t worry. Please join your trainers at the provided tables."
The elder gestured to a set of 4 tables lined up next to each other. The tables had two chairs each on the opposite side of each other. Xaine and his father sat in the seats of the far table. The table was already equipped with various tools and large container of what looked like red paint.
"Take a seat Xaine this is probably going to take a while." Barrek sat down on one side and Xaine sat in the other. He removed his shirt and laid his arm across the table. His father took the tools and dipped them in the red liquid and began to paint on Xaine"s shoulder.
"Now Xaine, the markings I am tattooing on your arm symbolize our family line. The runes represent those who came before us and those who will come after. We do this of course because you have now come of age. You have been chosen by your people to fulfil your duty to them and that duty extends beyond just you. From here on you will remember that you are no longer just a member of our family but you represent us. In addition you will be responsible for those that come after you. Every time you activate these runes you are to remember who you are and where you come from.
"You must honor and respect this responsibility to receive the aid of our ancestors. And as they have honored this line, they too will watch over and protect you. They will guide you and help you not only on the battlefield but in the most important circumstances and choices. Now Xaine I want you to reflect on this as we continue the painting and we will see how well you accept this and eventually who will accept you."
Xaine sat in silence thinking about all that was said. He wasn"t sure if he needed to agree to something or if it was just assumed, so he kept quiet and tried to think about the importance of the ceremony that was being performed. He thought about the words his father said and how much his family had meant to him. He felt a deep desire inside himself to be a good representative of his family and firm yearning to make sure these important things were passed on after him. As he was still in his thoughts he watched his father work the red paint on his arms into various lines and shapes. Forming what must be ancient runes on his arm. The tools he used were very coarse and rubbed the liquid into his skin which made it somewhat tender but didn"t hurt. He thought it was this process that probably made it stay for a few days as it would be hard to clean off. That and the fact that most of them probably didn"t want to really try to remove it.
His father had connected all the shapes and thin lines all the way from his shoulder and almost down to his wrist. Just then Xaine had felt a warmth in his right arm that started in the same area that the runes did. It felt strange but it was also comforting. He looked at the runes on his shoulder more closely and jerked somewhat when he noticed. Bright blue lines and runes had begun to form in the gaps that were left by the red paint. He watched them as they began to follow down his arm just like the ones his father drew but these were appearing on their own.
"I"ve been practicing this pattern for months Xaine, but it"s almost all been on stationary objects, so I would appreciate it if you stayed still." Barrek said with a smile, though he didn"t look away from his work.
"I assume you"ve noticed the blue. That"s good. The blue represents you as well as your acceptance of the things I"ve mentioned today. These runes I am painting reach out to you as one of our line and search your will and intentions. It"s rare that the blue does not appear during these ceremonies, but some people just can"t handle the responsibilities mentioned and it"s reflected here. It"s considered a great dishonor if you get this far and are selected but refuse to uphold your line."
"What if your line is made of murderers and bad people?"
"Then it is your job to clean it up."
"But then what about the ancestor that accepts you. You wouldn"t want a murderer watching over you would you?"
"I don"t know if a line has ever consisted of only deranged people. I can"t imagine in the number of people who have ever lived that there isn"t one good one in everyone's line. But as for being accepted those who are not right are usually selfish and would not accept the task to look over you anyway. We don"t force our ancestors to do this we request it and they can accept the task or decline. Some are too selfish, some want to move on, and some teach us what we should and should not request to seal our ancestor in. That"s why you don"t see ancestral brooms in the closet."
Xaine gave a chuckle to that last remark and continued to watch the blue go down his arm and toward his hand which his father was now working on. As the blue runes went all the way down and stopped appearing his father moved told him to turn his palm upward. After doing so his father waited this time before painting anything on him. The blue began to appear in a diamond shape with the top point aiming between his two middle fingers and the bottom point at his wrist. Some of the shape was filled in but, like the red his father painted, it left spaces open.
After the blue stopped forming Barrek continued the red paint and filled in the parts left open by the blue. He was almost finished when Xaine had another question come to mind.
"So is it any ancestor from our line that could accept me?"
"Essentially yes, but most of the time it will be someone who shared the same profession as you. So in your case, it will probably be someone who was a warrior as well, and we have a good line of warriors in our family."
"Oh, so it probably wouldn"t be someone maybe, like; Mom?" For the first time during the painting his father looked up from his work and met Xaine"s eyes.
"No Xaine, It probably won"t be, but they"re still watching over us. Don"t forget that."
"I know;" Xaine couldn"t think of anything else to say at the moment and his father returned to his work. After the painting process was finally completed all the runes in Xaine"s palm left an open point in the very center.
"Alright Xaine this part will hurt a little bit," His father took a needle and poked it into the center of Xaine"s palm where the open place had been. Xaine jumped a little at the jab and let out a sharp noise.
"Could have warned me a little."
His father shrugged, "I told you it was going to hurt"
"I didn"t know you were even going to stab me."
"It"s not that bad, we just need a little blood. You should count yourself lucky. A long time
ago we used to think we needed blood for all of this." He gestured to all the paint on his arm. Xaine didn"t say anything more about the poke, but couldn"t hide the surprised expression on his face from his father's comment. He also couldn"t help but wince a little as his father coaxed blood from the spot on his hand. Though he was comforted by the sounds of the other trainees audible intakes of breath. When the blood was apparently sufficient an elder came by and checked then began to speak to everyone again.
"Alright everyone is about done now. Please find your way to the binding scroll just over here." He had pointed out a large scroll that had been unraveled and nearly spanned the whole length of the room. At the beginning they could see a few names of people and their runes followed by an ancestor and theirs. On the other side of the scroll the last elder who had spoken was now taking his place with the other elders. They were sitting cross legged on blankets on the floor where the scroll had been lain. The scroll itself was also on a blanket to protect it from the dust and whatever else was on the floor.
Xaine and Barrek took their places opposite one of the elders and Barrek began to instruct Xaine again.
"Place your palm down on the scroll and stay there until you are accepted." Xaine followed the instruction and placed his palm in the right place. He noticed the other trainees doing the same thing. It was a few moments before anything happened and Xaine was beginning to worry that nobody was going to accept him. Then as he had felt in his arm before, there was warmth in his palm and a strange sensation like the lines were being retraced on his palm. As the others concentrated on their hands as well, Xaine thought they must be feeling it too. He glanced at some of the other trainees and saw the one just next to him had the blue lines start forming on his other arm. Xaine checked his own but nothing was there- after a quick survey of the room it didn"t seem like anyone else had it either. The boy"s father clapped him on his back in excitement.
"Dad why is he getting the blue on his other arm also?" Barrek looked up and gave a surprised chuckle.
"Wow, that"s actually something quite rare. When that happens it means that they usually carry two weapons or possibly a shield as well. The ancestor that accepted him has seen that he would be better with more than just one tool. He"ll be only the second in our town to have something like that. Hey look, someone has accepted you"
Barrek pointed to the paper Xaine had his palm against and Xaine turned to look. Familiar lines were appearing above his hand. The lines showed his family line like his arm then another began to appear that seemed vaguely familiar but he couldn"t place it. Underneath the appearing runes began to appear a written name. It read Drail Kaider.
"It"s your grandfather. Like father like son I suppose. I was accepted by your great grandfather, my grandfather."
After it all was finished forming they were all allowed to remove their hands from the scroll and wipe the blood from their hands. Then they were given the opportunity to select the materials that would be used for the forging of their new weapons. One of the trainees who was unsure what weapon he would be most comfortable with, seemed so sure of the one he should use now that he had been accepted. Xaine also felt very sure of all the materials he had selected, picking them almost on instinct, even when the blacksmith made a comment about how someone always had to choose the most valuable materials. The blacksmith was paid for his services of course but not as much as he might be able to get from someone looking to fully buy the weapon.
The process was completed and Xaine and his father left the blacksmith to fulfill the next task required before they left for their journey. Xaine was excited once again as he learned they need to go and obtain a horse for Xaine. On the walk over Xaine had asked his father how he would know when his weapon was completed and the only reply he got was "Oh you"ll know, don"t you worry." The response Xaine a little uncomfortable, remembering how his father conveniently left out the part about the needle in the previous task.
They had finally arrived at the farm he was so used to visiting in the mornings to help out. But this time he had a new purpose- he was finally going to take home his horse. But in his town they liked to go by the first letter of the first name, so he only hoped one of the other trainees didn"t pick his. Kore, the farmer, went to the first trainee and allowed him to look through the stable and pick out his mount. He had told them the horses here were still young, none over 5 years so they may be able to mature with their riders. This of course made them somewhat of handful to deal with, but also allowed them to bond with their new owners.
The first and second trainee had selected a horse to which the blacksmith replied with a similar response each time which he found rather amusing. "Oh I see you like blackie there, that one has a real personality." Or "ah, blackie here"s a great choice- very loyal." Each time he announced the name as if it were completely different. And each time the trainee would roll their eyes at the joke. Xaine, however, found it pretty amusing himself but only let a smile show on his face. The last trainee before Xaine had almost picked the one Xaine had wanted but when the horse approached and sniffed around his pockets it turned it"s back to him and walked to the other side of his stall in a huff.
Xaine smiled, he figured it was because he was searching for the apples he always brought for him. He knew he shouldn"t be giving them so much, but he was happy to note it at least helped him out a little. It was finally Xaine"s turn and, unlike the other trainees, he went straight to the stall. After a good inspection, the horse seemed to agree to go with Xaine And Kore approached him.
"Oh going with blackie are we? Good choice he"s a very smart one here, unfortunately he"s also the most onry. Have you got a name picked out for him?"
"Yes, I want to call him Saber. I think he will get along well with Dad"s."
"Saber hu? Not a fan of blackie?" Xaine smiled and replied he thought Saber suited him well. As Xaine left with his new companion in tow he finally had realized just how long the tasks had taken. The sun was already setting and Xaine was exhausted. Other than staying still for the hours for the painting, he had not done much physical activity. His father looked at him sideways apparently noticing how tired he must look.
"That"s the ceremony, it takes a lot out of you. It"s more than just some paint and warmth. It"s pretty draining. We"ll put your horse out back with Geranium then you should probably get some rest." Xaine wasn"t going to argue he was pretty worn out and wanted the next day to come as quickly as possible. That night Xaine didn"t even write in his record he just put Saber in the small fenced field behind their house, had dinner with his father, and went straight to bed.