Let's start at the beginning. Day one.
I was scared. We all were. At just ten who wouldn't be. I had been dropped off in front of the headquarters of the blades as requested when my application was accepted. All my worldly goods gone. I now had only the clothes on my back, and one memento as was allowed. Mine being a simple gold coin my older sister had handed me the last time I saw her.
I wasn't the only scared one I could tell. All around me stood other children. From nine to eleven years old. All hoping to be allowed to train to become a Blade. I imagine the decision was similar for all of us. After having looked up to and heard or read the stories about the Blades for years we all must have eventually come to the conclusion that it was our path. Some like myself may have been noble by birth, and some like myself I'm sure were given this as just one option. My older sister would inherit the family name, and the power that went with it. I would be left with nothing. This surly drove my father to offer me this chance to make a name for myself. Obviously knowing I'd accept it. My mother certainly did not approve, but my choices in life were limited by my birth order. Third in line. To far back to have been an use to the family.
Up until now all I had seen since being dropped off were the boys in the masks. Each wearing a plane white mask and directing us without speaking forward into the massive stone building. Barracks 13 was it's designation. Finally ending up in a room that seemed to go on forever at first glance. Though later years i found out that the main hall only measured 100 by 150 ft. Still. The empty room added to the fear. The only sound the quiet whisper of some of the children. Most of us to scared to even talk. I had made my way further back against a wall to watch the others.
I had always had an odd affinity with people watching. Maybe my small stature had something to do with it. But looking out over the others I felt a bit calmer. My fears obviously shared by them. Even the largest and most boastful boy's eyes told the truth. Nobody knew the test. The first task you are set to before being accepted. Rumors abounded sure, but the test was a mystery. The only thing all rumors made clear was that failure was not an option.
The door slammed shut on the other side of the massive room. A man entered. He had similar short brown hair to my own, though his neatly trimmed in a soldierly manner. His jaw however was firm and square were mine was more feminine. (Something that my older brother had picked on endlessly.)
"SHUT UP!" He shouted in a deep commanding voice. Though by then the few talking had already quieted. "Good." He said softly, almost to himself. "I am Centurion David Valdez." He started walking up and down in front of the rough gaggle of kids while he spoke. "And as of today your father, your mother, your priest and your trainer." He stopped at roughly the middle of the group and turned to look down the line making eye contact with anyone unlucky enough to be in the front. "And this... is your first test." He said and turned walking quietly across the room and out the door, this time closing it softly.
The chattering began immediately. "What does that mean?" "Should we follow." The speculation abounded.
"What do you think?" A girl asked. I was surprised, I jumped a bit. i had been to focused on the big picture around and my own thoughts to have noticed the girl walk up next to me. She looked amused by the start I had given. She had very short red hair. And almost looked more boy than girl except that her features were far to feminine to ever be confused for a man. She stood about an inch taller than me and had piercing and at this moment very amused green eyes.
"Something is going to happen." I stated softly and she frowned. My words though seemed to have broken whatever spell delayed the test. because the ground cracked open at multiple places around the room. People scurried out of the way as weapons racks slowly lifted up to revel rows upon rows of weapons in every shape imaginable. One lifting close to were I stood with the girl.
"So it seems." She finally said replying to my earlier comment. She stood straight and walked forward picking up a wooden sword and a small round shield. That was when I noticed all the weapons were wooden. "Arm yourself." She advised me and I nodded moving forward to join her.
While she had confidently picked up a weapon. I looked at all of them with no idea what I wanted or could use. I found a short sword first and my mind raced, surely no weapon is more noble than the sword. I thought slipping the wooden weapon into my belt before picking up a pair of small hatchets. Axes, strength. Slipping those also into my belt I then grabbed a two handed sword of some sort. Not yet familiar with weapons I didn't know at the time that this would be considered a hand and a half sword. I stood with the numerous weapons and heard laughing.
"Well, you're certainly armed.' She commented and chuckled again. I blushed but said nothing as I considered putting it back. By this time most of the other boys and girls had started picking up weapons of their own. The noise rose and became a cacophony. I moved back to the wall and found the girl following me quietly. I blushed again realizing that I had forgotten to put any of the weapons back.
Time seemed to go by in slowly. I'm sure only a few minutes had passed but one group of kids had already decided that we should fight each other and were making targets out of some of the smaller kids in the group who tried to fight back against them. Out matched and out numbered a couple took hits from the bullies and cried out.
The time couldn't have lasted long before the floor opened again. This time in nice neat areas. Five on the outside and one in the center. Each opening in the floor rose and with it grotesque green creatures. Small about the average size as our average size with some reaching a bit taller than the biggest boy and a few shorter than I was. They had lumpy skin and pointed years that seemed misshaped. Worst of all were their hands and mouths. Filled with razor sharp looking teeth they grinned constantly and seemed to chuckle as their clawed hands groped at the air as if seeking flesh.
Panic filled the room and most of the kids fled from them. What good would wooden swords do verse these creatures. I didn't. I moved forward. As did some of the other kids. A creature reached me quickly and charged straight at me. my wooden sword still in hand I gripped it firmly with both hands and brought it down right at the creatures head. It reached a hand up to catch the attack... and it's hand detached neatly from it's arm as the sword passed through it and buried itself into the skull. I screamed. Green blood and pink brain matter covered the floor in front of me as the creature fell and dragged me with it. I barely had time to let go of the sword and not land atop the mess.
I stared and would have been tackled by the next creature in line if the girl hadn't stepped between me and it. The creature colliding with her shield as she poked around it to get a couple stabs in.
"Snap out of it you idiot!" She called and I looked over as two more creatures closed on her as she still fought the first. I slipped out the two hatchets and moved in beside her to block their advance. One lunged forward impulsively and I blindly swung one of my hatchets catching it in the forearm. It screeched and jumped back as the gash bleed profusely. The other smarter waited a moment.
They prepared to charge at once this time and I braced myself axes up and ready when the girl joined my side.
"We got this ok." She said in an encouraging way. She must gave finished off the other creature.
"O...Ok." I managed to squeeze out as they came at us. Her shield arm nearest to me gave me some protection and I regretted not having one of my own. i had read on shield walls and tactics for such but it didn't work with only one shield between two people.
I concentrated on the one who came towards me. It was the one I had already wounded and it came in low and fast. I reacted to late and it latched onto my leg as I swung down.My blow missed and i found it atop me as I swung the second in a feble clumsy blow. It caught the creature in the side but didn't do enough damage to get it off of me. The creature flailed and my as left my hand as my other cam back around the creature grabbed my arm and stopped any chance of that ax stopping it.
A flash of movement caught my eye, and the creature rolled off of me and I saw the girl again above me. She looked powerful, her wooden sword covered with blood; It's strange ability to chop through these creatures but not harm people confused me for a moment at the sight. "I'm Jasmine" She said offering me her shield covered arm which I grabbed and got up.
I reached down to my side and drew out the last of my weapons the sword. Now a hatchet and a sword in hand I looked for the next fight shaking with fear. "I'm Drake" I said softly not wanting to look a coward before I died.
But everything was already over. Some brave but not skilled pinned to the ground by the creatures but unharmed. Others standing over bodies of the creatures they had taken out. Then the bodies were gone and the creatures were gone.
"The test is over. If I call your name come over to this side of the room, until then get over to the group." David's voice called out shewing a few kids on his side over with the others. No one whom I ever talked to can recall when he got back in the room. But there he was standing on one side expecting his orders to be followed. No one dared contradict him.
"What a day." Jasmine stated breathlessly. I could only nod. Training to be a blade was certainly a weird and scary thing. That day my life would change forever and out of the hundred or so kids in that room. David called out fifteen names. Mine and Jasmine's included.