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A Day as a Deildara Academy Initiate

In a large, stone hall with high, vaulted ceilings, twenty adolescents sit on mats facing a stage. On the stage stands an imposing human man in his late forties wearing light training garb with the crest of Deildara on his chest. The violet details in the clothes betray his status as Commander. He speaks in a booming voice, with a hard-to-identify accent to the children who hang on breathlessly to his every word. They are wearing similar clothing but with light blue details, branding them Initiates.

"You have all worked very hard to be here, and we are happy to welcome you to the Academy. We hope you will do well here, and go on to bring this city great glory. But be warned, it will be extremely difficult. You will be pushed to the extremes, and then some, every day. Many of you will not be able to rise to the challenge, and thus will be sent home with great shame," he says gravely, and then flashes the Initiates a cold smile. "But you all knew what you signed up for. I am Ragnvald Guthesson, but you will refer to me as "sir" or "Commander".

 

Ragnvald paces the stage, eyeing each of the students up and down. "As you all know, every member of this military has a specialization. Gyrid back there is a Warrior," he gestures to the back of the room, where a human woman stands by the door, observing, hand on the pommel of her broadsword. He continues, "There are also, for example, Archers, Medics, and Troopers. I am a Scout, just like you are here to become. A Scout is a very important part of a team. It will be your job to sneak ahead of your teams to observe enemy forces and to keep a lookout in general. You will also have the task of sending messages back to base to inform your commanders of any information you have. You will need to be light and fleet of foot, and be able to survive in the wilderness without rations. You will need to be able to track others as well as make sure your own team can't be tracked. I once had to lead my team through a camp of soldiers to get to the edge of the Avoncaster Wilds. I ran ahead and passed their leader's tent, and decided to try to listen in. I overheard them discussing their attack on our base, which was set to happen in the next few days. I was able to make it back to my group and send a message to my commanders about their plans. We surprised them with an attack of our own the next night, and forced them to surrender. Because of my scouting, we won that war."

 

He stops pacing. "We will begin training today. I assume you have all been shown the premises, is that correct?" He looks to the back of the hall again, where Officer Gyrid stands watch. "Yes, sir, that is correct," she says. Ragnvald looks back to the Initiates. "Good. Wakeup is every morning at 0600 and you will be expected in the Hall at 0630 for breakfast. Training will begin at 0700 and end at 1500 with a break for lunch at 1100. You will be present for training unless otherwise is recommended by a Medic.

 

"At the end of this cycle you will be faced by a Challenge. If you pass, you will be sent into further training as a Scout, and then to a team of your own. Fail, and you will be punished severely. Try hard not to fail. The Challenge location is to remain secret, but I can tell you a little bit. You will be dropped into the wilderness to fend for yourselves. You will be hunted by the most seasoned of Scouts and creatures of their choosing. If they catch you, you've failed. If I've done my job, and you yours, this should be attainable for most of you. We will start training today with an evaluation test."

 

He claps his hands once, and the wall behind him starts descending down into the ground, revealing a training area in a forest clearing behind it. There are dummies for fighting practice, targets for archery, and an obstacle course with mud puddles, walls, and pits. Ragnvald turns and steps out into the training area, and the Initiates follow. It is a crisp morning in early spring, and the ground is still covered in frost in some places. The gate they exited from is situated in the stone wall of an enormous fortress. It is dotted with guards circling the towers, balconies, arenas, and training areas within the stone city. Ragnvald and the Initiates stop in front of the obstacle course in the clearing. "This will be your test for today. I have built this course to allow you all to best show me your abilities before the training process. It should not be too difficult. I will demonstrate the first part once for you, and then you all will go."

 

He dusts his hands off on his trousers and starts running down the course. The first obstacle is an eight-foot-high wall, which he scales easily with the momentum he gained from his sprint. The Initiates jog alongside him on the outside of the course, but struggle to keep up. At the top of the wall Ragnvald steps onto a bridge suspended between the wall he just scaled and an identical one twenty feet away. The bridge is made up of planks placed a few feet apart, and he skips easily from plank to plank to the other side. He slides down the second wall and lands back on the ground. "Now it is your turn. You will do the first part as instructed, and then complete the course on your own. Would anyone like to start?"

 

The Initiates all avert their eyes. Many of them seem to suddenly have shifted their attention to something at their feet. Some are still catching their breath from the jog to the second wall. Ragnvald sighs and points with his whole hand to a halfling girl at the front of the group. She has curly light brown hair and steely grey eyes. "You, there. You can start." She tears her gaze from one of the trees at the edge of the clearing, and looks nervously up at Ragnvald. He stands a good four feet above her small stature, a giant in comparison to a mouse. She swallows once before collecting herself and straightening her posture. "Alright," she says with a nod and jogs back to the start of the course. She also takes a running start, but struggles getting up the wall. She backs up and tries again a few times, and doesn't even get close to reaching the top. Eventually Ragnvald turns to another of the Initiates, this one a tall, black haired elven boy, and nods toward the halfling girl at the wall. "Go give her a hand." The elf jogs off and boosts the girl up. She gives him a smile and steels herself for the bridge. She takes a tentative step onto the first plank, and hops to the next one, stopping for a moment to regain her balance. The girl takes a breath, and then jumps quickly between the other planks. When she gets to the second wall, she stops for a moment, then peeks over the edge. It is an eight foot drop to the ground, more than twice her height. She once again takes a deep breath, straightens her posture and squats down, holding onto the ledge, and slides backward off of the wall, still holding on. She drops the last four-or-so feet, bending her knees as she hits the ground. She turns back toward the group and Ragnvald, who nods approvingly. "Good. Now continue."

 

The girl looks down the rest of the course. The first visible obstacle is a large pit about five feet in diameter. She walks up to the hole, and looks over the edge. It looks like it's around ten feet deep, and the bottom is a puddle of mud. She backs up and takes a running start up to the hole. About a foot away, she stomps on the ground and leaps over the hole. She continues at a jog through most of the course, wading through mud puddles, climbing a rope up to a platform and riding a zipline down, and crawling under a net. The remaining Initiates' excitement builds as she passes obstacle after obstacle with ease. They start cheering her on, chanting her name when she makes a narrow save on the edge of another pit. Then she arrives at a twenty foot long completely empty stretch with the finish line at the end of it, and halts. The Initiates go quiet. She looks around suspiciously, doesn't see any traps. She takes a few steps forward. Nothing happens. She tentatively starts up jogging again, and gets about ten feet, before hearing a snap. Before she has a chance to react, she is slammed by an invisible force and knocked back several feet. The wind knocked out of her lungs, she lays, panting on her side on the ground for a moment. The Initiates standing behind Ragnvald all gasp loudly before turning to each other, whispering.

 

"Holy shit, what was that?"

 

"I don't know, do you think she's okay?"

 

"That looked really painful."

 

The girl, groaning, gets to her feet and brushes herself off. The force knocked her five feet outside the designated track. She looks back toward Ragnvald, eyebrows raised, mouth agape. He motions for her to return. She looks back at the once more seemingly empty course before jogging back to the group and wincing in pain. When she gets back within earshot of the group, Ragnvald speaks, seemingly unfazed by what just happened. "Well done. Who's next?" The girl slows down as Ragnvald turns toward the group again. The excitement that had built up during the beginning of the girl's run has all but dissipated, and the Initiates once more avoid eye contact with Ragnvald. He rolls his eyes slightly and gestures toward the elven boy still standing awkwardly by the wall he helped the halfling girl scale. "You, boy! Your turn!"

 

The boy jumps at Ragnvald's yell, and straightens out his tunic before backing up to roughly the same place Ragnvald and the halfling girl started. He scales the wall with significantly more ease than the first girl, and barely has to jump between planks on the bridge. The halfling girl stands with the rest of the group, grumbling at how easy the course seems to be for him, and rubbing her sore rib. The boy continues through the course, barely breaking a sweat. Leaping gracefully over the pits and swinging in a perfect arc from a rope. He also stops when he gets to the empty stretch. He squats down and carefully inspects the ground, running his hand lightly over the still frozen earth where the halfling girl was struck by the force. The Initiates all hold their breath, and see him pick up what looks like a piece of thin fishing line. Ragnvald nods approvingly. The boy continues half-crawling forward, still carefully studying the ground before him. He picks up another piece of fishing line, and a booming whoosh echoes through the clearing. The boy flinches and sits still, still holding the piece of string, as his long, black hair is swept up by a sudden, powerful wind. He slowly straightens up, pulling the string with him. Whoosh. The Initiates wince as the elven boy is suddenly knocked off his feet, and thrown off the course by a second blast. He rolls to a stop ten feet away.

 

Ragnvald sighs, and turns to back to the Initiates. He tells a muscular human girl with a long, dark ponytail to start the course. She nods once and jogs briskly to the wall. She only backs up a few feet before taking two heavy steps and launching herself off the ground, catching the wall and pulling herself up. She continues the rest of the course similarly. At the empty stretch she lays on the ground and crawls forward, laying as flat as possible. As she crawls, three powerful blasts miss her by more than a foot, and she barely flinches each time. The Initiates can barely contain their excitement, holding onto each other's shoulders and whispering amongst themselves. The girl crosses the finish line, and easily gets to her feet, not bothering to brush the dirt and frost from her training clothes. She returns to the group, stopping to pull the elven boy, who was still trying to catch his breath outside of the course, to his feet. She looks up at Ragnvald with an almost bored expression on her face. Ragnvald smiles brightly, and holds her hand up in a victory gesture. "This is what it's supposed to look like! Very good! What's your name, girl?"

 

"Dayashe, sir. Avrica Dayashe."

 

"Dayashe, you say? Huh, I'll remember that. Now, who's next?"

 

Hands shoot up in the air. Suddenly almost everyone wants to try their hand at the obstacle course. Ragnvald picks out a few people at random, who form a line at the first wall. The halfling girl and the elven boy mutter angrily to each other, still massaging their sore backs and ribs. Everyone finishes the course with ease, except for an enormous dragonborn boy who can't quite get low enough to the ground to be missed by the winds. Even the halfling girl and elf boy get a second chance, and pass each obstacle expertly, even having only run the course once before. Everyone runs so many laps that they stop having to crawl in the home stretch, because there are no more wires to trip. Ragnvald stands on the sidelines, smiling from ear to ear. At first glance, it looks like a teacher that is proud of his students. But, looking closer, the smile has a darkness to it. His eyes are cold, displaying no visible emotion. He never takes his eyes off the Initiates, not even when Officer Gyrid walks up and whispers something in his ear. He just nods, and keeps observing the elven girl currently jumping between planks on the first bridge. "Good group this year," he mutters to Gyrid. "They're going to do us a lot of good in the future." Gyrid doesn't reply, and stands next to him for a few minutes, observing the Initiates, before turning and disappearing into the enormous stone fortress they exited from earlier.


A very rewritten account of a first day as an Initiate at the Deildara Academy. Loosely based on a diary entry of a previous Initiate, but all names have been changed. The last paragraph is also mostly fictional, with some roots in the source material.


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