"Club and Heart! Report to the stadium for the first of your trials!"
The ominous female voice sounded out again just half an hour after it had for the first time.
I got up from where I had been sat behind a large boulder. Walking toward the forest that stretched across the whole northern horizon, I spotted Club doing the same. With a frown, I looked in the opposite direction. We hadn't spoken since the... incident earlier. We followed the clear path through the woods, walking on opposite sides of the track, neither of us speaking. Suddenly, in front of us was a great hollow in the ground. Steps ringed a large circular arena that was sunk many feet into the earth. I gulped and started down the steps. I counted nearly fifty before I was even half the way down.
I gulped again and wiped at my brow. How many people were going to be watching? I mean, I hadn't seen any so far, in the woods or on the steps, but surely they must be coming.. This place was eerily silent without them. A shiver ran down my spine as my feet touched the sandy turf of the arena. Across from me, Club was walking to one of two white circles that had been marked out on opposite ends of the clearing. Once we were both standing in the circles, the voice came again:
"Now that you, Club and Heart, are here, we can begin the first of the trials -" There was a strange sound, like someone had just clicked their fingers, and suddenly, we were both standing in front of a horrendously filthy stable. Great mounds of horse dung littered every inch of ground. I wrinkled my nose with distaste, and put a hand over my mouth. "You will clean the stable of my beloved giant steeds before the sun sets today, or you will have lost the trial. There must be not a speck of dung left when day turns to night. Throw all dung in this river -" There came another clicking sound and just like that a river was flowing behind us. "Shovel with these." In my hand appeared a great wooden spade with a metal scoop and handle. It was so big I could have sat inside the indentation of the scooper.
I put a hand to my forehead. How the hell was I going to do this?
Oh god... I thought, and took my first shovel-full.
It was going to be a long day.