Characters: Rhen D., Lars T.
Idea: I've always wanted to write about the apprentice trials and I've ALWAYS wondered if Lars was present when Rhen was undergoing her test.
Note: HELLO, I AM BACK. At least, for a while. I know I've been MIA for quite some time aghhhhh >_< I am blaming real life for this, haha. So, to destress I decided to write this one shot. AGAIN, I can't seem to stay away from RxL. Please send help!
"Sword Singing novice students are required to undergo the mandatory trials. These trials are held to determine if novices are deemed worthy to be promoted to the next rank - apprentices. Students are required to be present by noon and no later."
Rhen slapped the parchment shut and stared at it. It was wrinkled and almost torn at the folds, thanks to her constant fiddling with it. Taking a deep breath, she stuffed the parchment into the folds of her clothing and rolled her shoulders.
"Calm down. You're ready. You're so ready for this."
This was it. The apprentice trials she had trained so hard and countless days and nights for. She'd mastered every move her teachers had taught her and had excelled in both her practical and theoretical classes. So why was she so nervous?
"Because of Lars Tenobor, that's why."
Rhen groaned and covered her face. Why was she letting that jerk affect her, especially now of all times?
"Because he excelled his apprentice trial easily, remember?" she answered herself again.
The sorcerers' apprentice trials were held a week before and had caused a big hoohah in the Academy. Rhen hadn't been interested in attending it because one, she wasn't a sorcerer, so what was the point? And two, she had better things to do anyways, like train for her own upcoming trials. But her friend Anya had dragged her along, yakking on excitedly about how it is the trial of the year, how just about everyone is watching, and will she stop being such an "annoying needlehead and watch the damn trials already"?
So Rhen had forced her legs to walk to the field, arms crossed awkwardly across her chest as she stood amongst her fellow sword singers and the sorcerers. She'd planned to linger at the back so she could make a quick getaway when it was done - but Anya pushed her to the front of the crowd and she'd stumbled into a clumsy stop.
In the middle of the field stood the very person she loathed, giving his wooden staff a few warm up swings and occasional grins to his devoted, cheering audience. She tried blending back into the unrelenting crowd but the commotion attracted the attention of Lars.
Rhen groaned as she recalled the conceited look he had directed at her.
"Come to watch me, Peta?" he had said, tossing his staff in the air and catching it easily.
"Hm," was all he said, accompanied by an eyebrow raise.
"Just here to check things out, so I know what I'll be facing next week," she replied unconvincingly.
Lars laughed. "Very funny, Peta. Thanks for the joke, I really needed it. But you will never ever face anything nearly as amazing as what you're about to see."
She had bristled, uncrossing her arms.
"You heard me."
Things escalated. Rhen lost her temper and got herself into a heated argument with Lars. The cheering crowd simmered into an unsettling silence, although none of the two had noticed.
"I am just as good as you are!"
"You must be deluded into thinking you're better than -"
"I bet my trial's going to be better than yours, too!"
Lars ignored her and had started walking away, but he paused at her words and faced her slowly, a serious look on his face. He eyed her for a moment, then a slow smile formed on his lips.
"Is that a challenge?"
Rhen had been caught off guard but she lifted her head in defiance, heart beating fast. "Yes," she replied, her voice strong and clear across the quiet crowd.
"So be it."
Then it began. The whispers, the gossip, the news, spreading like uncontrollable wildfire throughout the Academy. It didn't help that there were many witnesses at the time of the issued challenge and that one of the professors had taken an interest in it. He even told Lorad, her mentor and teacher, about it.
"Why didn't I just shut my big mouth?"
Rhen leaned her head against the Academy's stone wall and sighed, cursing her inability to keep a cool head. Now the whole Academy was going to watch her fight her way through the apprentice trials. All eyes would be on her. And worse of all, the brat himself would be watching her.
What if she failed -
"No! Stop it. You can do it. You've prepared for this." She slapped her own face, attempting to remove herself from her own self-inflicted misery.
"Five gold says she will fail the trials," came a loud voice from across the hall.
Her jaw dropped. Rhen quickly peeled herself away from the wall and tiptoed toward the wooden door. She peeked through the cracks to see Anya and another sword singer.
"Caleb! How could you? 10 gold says she's going to ace it." That was Anya, and she gave Caleb a hard whack on the arm.
"A lot of faith you have there, Anya," replied Caleb as they walked further down the hall.
"Of course, she's my friend. Also that Lars boy has been giving her nothing but misery ever since they both stepped into the Academy," was all Rhen heard before they rounded a corner and disappeared. She grinned at that, silently agreeing with Anya.
That's right, Lars had been giving her nothing but misery ever since the day she struck him with a spell - unintentionally, mind you - through a stick back in Ghalarah. All she'd wanted to do was attend her classes and excel in her subjects in peace.
But no, he had to spread rumours that she became a slave because she was a thief.
That's it, then.
Rhen gave herself a determined nod and took a deep breath. She's not one to back down easily - oh, never, she was Rhen Darzon afterall - and so she reached for her sword and headed for the field.
The atmosphere was electrifying.
Rhen knew how many students the Academy had; she just didn't know it was this many. The surrounding observation decks were filled - all three tiers. Those who couldn't find any seats were forced inside the buildings to look out through the windows.
The crowd made up of red and brown flecks - red, the colour of the sword singing uniform, and brown, of the sorcerers'. Sword singing trials don't usually interest the sorcerers; but because it involved Lars, who was the most popular boy in school, and Rhen, the girl who dared challenge him - well, let's say it added to her anxiety. Her palms broke out in sweat and she wiped them on her uniform, forcing herself to take in deep breaths.
Quickly, Rhen made her way through the thick crowd. To say she struggled was an understatement. She made her way through easily, for the crowd seemed to part and back away as if she had the Plague. All eyes were on her.
"Hi," she muttered nervously to nobody in particular.
"Darzon! You're almost late," Lorad called out to her.
"I'm sorry, Professor Rethwell. I was having a little... trouble."
Lorad clucked his tongue and shook his head gently. "Alright, get in line."
Only ten sword singing students were marked as ready for the trials that year - Rhen being one of them - and her name was last on the list. She hoped that that would make the crowd lose interest and leave the field; one trial alone could take up quite some time. But the crowd didn't seem to change even when the number of students in line before her dwindled. In fact, there seemed to be more people, and Rhen wondered how that was possible.
Very soon it was her turn.
She watched as the boy before her got dragged away from the field by two other students, lying limply in their arms. Rhen swallowed hard. That was the sixth student to fail the trial today - she hoped she didn't make a seventh.
"It's your turn now," whispered Anya, "good luck and may the Goddess guide you!"
"And the next and final student, first in her class, sword singing student Rhen Darzon!" Principal Harald announced. The crowd went wild - or rather, the sword singing side of the crowd went wild, waving and cheering. The sorcery students watched on in stony but intrigued silence, watching her and exchanging occasional smirks.
Rhen spotted Lars in the first tier at the very front. Typical of Lars to get the best seat, she thought. He was watching her with a snide and knowing look, raising his eyebrows at her.
Ignoring him, she grabbed her sword and ran into the middle of the field, where the person in charge of conducting her trial was waiting. Lorad was holding a heavy sword twice the size of her own and a shield that could probably crush her if she wasn't careful-
Rhen pushed the thought from her mind and plastered a smile on her face. Her professor returned it kindly.
"Ready? Just like I've always taught you."
"You're my best student, Rhen... I want you - no, I need you to pass these trials."
"I... I'll try," Rhen stammered.
"Because you can't let that sorcerer boy win," Lorad continued, with a wink. She burst out laughing at that statement and tried to compose herself. She nodded determinedly. "I won't."
Satisfied, Lorad gave her a quick bow. She could feel her heart hammering in her chest as she followed suit. The crowd quietened down as Lorad and Rhen drew their swords. They circled each other, each looking for an opening to start.
Her professor was the first to strike. He swung and thrusted his heavy sword with lightning speed, actions almost impossible to follow. But Rhen, quick and alert, had no trouble matching Lorad. She was much lighter and smaller in size compared to him, and she used that to her advantage - striking when there was an opening and retreating when needed. Their blades flashed and clanged repeatedly, ringing and clashing. However, Lorad evaded her spells and songs easily, and that frustrated Rhen to no end. Already she's been struck thrice by his own, and if that kept up she would be the seventh student to leave the field without passing the trials. The thought of that happening motivated and undoubtedly scared her, so she continued giving her best.
In the midst of sidestepping one of Lorad's spells Rhen's foot slipped on a smooth patch on the ground and she fell backward onto her back. The crowd gasped.
Groaning, her fingertips touched the ground and felt something cool and smooth, something that felt like -
Bewildered, she looked at the ice patch, which was already starting to melt under the hot sun.
How is there ice on the field, in Veldarah, where it was summer all year long?
Rhen narrowed her eyes, immediately recognising that obnoxious laughter. She looked up furiously and saw Lars laughing with his friends. When he realised she was staring at him he quickly put on a straight face and the icy blue tone on his fingers disappeared in a puff. He stared at her, feigning innocence.
Why that little -
"Rhen, watch out!"
Rhen instinctively rolled away, narrowly missing Lorad's sword as it came swinging down heavily and piercing the ground where her head was just a moment ago. She stared at it in horror, then back at Lorad, where the call of the Siren was on his lips. The yellow energy that accompanied his blade - mere inches from her face - dissipated into thin air. She thanked the Goddess for the narrow escape.
Before Lorad could yank his sword free she raised her own and sang, "Slide Thrust!"
Her sword burnt a bright crimson and a burst of red energy exploded from its blade. The force sent Lorad flying through the air and he landed hard on the ground, the wind having knocked out of him. Swiftly Rhen kicked his sword in the opposite direction - then ran up to him and gracefully pointed the tip of her blade at his throat.
For a moment there was silence - a silence so strong Rhen started to wonder if she'd killed her professor. But then Lorad flashed her a smile and the crowd went wild, erupting into a myriad of cheers and catcalls. Grinning, she slipped her sword back into its scabbard and helped her professor up.
"Extraordinary!" boomed Principal Harald's voice. He was clapping along with the others and smiling hard. "Marvelous!"
Lorad held her hand and raised it in the air, proudly showing off his student to the entire Academy. Unable to control her grin, Rhen waved to the crowd with her free hand, a trickle of sweat rolling down her temple.
"Well done," said Lorad, bowing.
"Thank you, Professor Rethwell," she replied breathlessly. Rhen imitated his action, bowing low at the waist. The crowd's response was overwhelming and she drank it all in, still unable to believe that she had passed her apprentice trials. By then everyone - sorcery students included - were on their feet, screaming and jumping.
But it wasn't over yet.
She scanned the crowd and found the one person she was looking for. Pressing her lips together, Rhen gave Lars a curt nod. He responded by rolling his eyes. Then, for reasons she couldn't comprehend, she found herself approaching her nemesis. Lars looked equally confused as she rapidly closed the distance between them.
"So," Rhen started.
"What do you want," he snapped.
"Nothing. It's just... I passed my trials."
"I never said you wouldn't."
"Yes... but you did say I'd never have one as good as yours. I believe the actual words were 'You will never ever face anything nearly as amazing as what you're about to see.' Well, what do you think? Was my performance anything nearly as amazing as yours?"
"Hardly," replied Lars haughtily, but he wouldn't look her in the eye.
"Really?" she responded. He was fidgeting uncomfortably in front of her and she was enjoying every moment of it. Rhen decided to add more fuel to the fire - just because she could. "Because I think the crowd begs to differ."
Lars looked up and around him. The cheers had decreased a notch but the crowd was still excited and hyped. Most of them seemed to have noticed the both of them talking too, judging by the way they nudged their friends and the way they were looking over curiously.
This made Lars angry.
"What are you staring at?" he growled at them. Then he rolled his eyes. "Whatever. What a waste of my time." Saying thus, he turned to walk away.
Rhen watched his retreating back with a satisfied grin.
"Oh... that felt so good."