Begin

Not knowing what to do, the boys simply stood where they were, fighting the fatigue from traveling so far with little rest. Together they faced the man standing directly in front of the gate, the one with a silver dragon in flight emblazoned on each sleeve. As they became more anxious to go inside and be tested, the man with the dragon lowered his hood and lowered his hands to his side. As he did so, all the others in the circle did as well. They moved as one, all of them raising their arms to their hoods and lowering them again, following the man’s example. Startled by the movement after the stillness, the boys each turned so that they were back to back, and they saw that there were five women and five men besides the leader. Though one of the women couldn’t have been much older than themselves, they all looked as though they were ready to fight. All of them, except the man with the dragons on his sleeves.

“Ready.”

Startled, the two boys watched in horror as all ten of the robed figures around them shed their cloaks in a single, mechanical movement at the command of their leader. They all wore black clothes beneath their robes, blending in with the darkness around them. They were of varying height, but they were all slim and lithe, their stances clearly speaking of power and readiness. They all stood facing the two boys, all of them ready to attack, held back only by the missing command.

“Begin.”

The End

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