Odvessly, I did not write the series and do not own most of what you read below.

Also, as the books never speak much of the Shang outside what Liam tells Alanna, I got to embellish some of it into my own ideas. I know that you don't read what happens during the Ordeal, but I might later in the story write a few snatchs here and there about what did take place.

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There was a deep sigh as a burnette maiden brushed her fingertips over the large door that layed before her, daring not to touch the stone but feeling it's coldness from only a few centimeters away. As a shudder raced down her spine, she retrached her fingers and placed her hand once more calmly at her side. While her blue eyes flickered sideways to watch the large, grey man beside her.

Many consedered this step to be the last, the end of a long, hard journey. The finish line was at last in sight. The girl however, didn't see it as that. No, this was just the beginning. The trials she had encountered under the safe wing of her mentor was nothing in consederation to the hardships she would face on her own. The end? No, this was simply the beginning.

She didn't remember most of her early childhood, neither faces or places resided in her memories. From what she had been told, as a four year old she was rescued by the Shang Badger. Her captures had been holding her ransom, after having kidnapped her from some well-to-do family. No one exactly knew which one, but for her to be kidnapped and held for random, they odvessiously had to have some money and background. Her teachers had always told her that her family had never been located, but in the shadows it was whispered that she had such a fire in her eyes that no one had looked very hard.

All of her memories started after she began her training into the ranks of the Shang, the faces she recalled were those of her teachers and other students like herself - those she had long adopted to be her family. She had been in training for forteen years, and now, at the age of eigthteen, it was time for her Ordeal. Afterwards, she would be cast into the world for year, and if she survived she would be given a Shang title.

The man at her side, his silver gray hair and beard long and shaggy, offset by sharp hazel eyes seemed to notice for the first time that the girl was watching him. With a soft nod, he stepped back and as the morning sun began to peak through the glass windows, the massive door before her swung open. With an unheard, outward sigh, she stepped into the dark chamber.

Breathing softly, the maiden rolled her pale blue eyes around the small room. Complete darkness surrounded her, disallowing her to see her own hand if she placed her palm against her nose. Yet, where another might be distressed, she continued to breath calmly in and out, waiting for what was to come next.

No one ever spoke of what happened during an Ordeal, it was forbidden. Yet, most Orders called for them. From kings, to knights, to mages, to even the rank of master warriors known as the shangs. Each was different in some way or another, one would imagiane, but they all had their simalliarties. All of them were to test your true worth in whatever you were about to assend into.

Like all Shangs-in-training, the maiden knew that it was forbidden to approach the chamber from the day she started her training, until the day of her Ordeal. Somewhere it was written, or just spoken, that no warrior-to-be was allowed even a glance at what their destiny, what their future might hold. Until the day their masters found them ready to face the trial, to be placed inside the Chamber and, if one survived (for there were more than a few that did not), they would continue on into the outside world only to return.

Hours ticked by, and quiet the Shang Badger stood outside the Ordeal chamber, his dark brown eyes impassive as he waited for his pupil to emerge. The large room that surrounded him and the chamber was still. As a tradition, no one but a master and student pair were allowed to enter the room, and this unwritten rule would only be broken if the student failed the Ordeal, where the doors would swing open and reveal a lifeless body.

Had he been any less disiplined, he might have shook his grizzled head and snorted at the idea. He had become like a father to the girl when the Order had been unable to locate her family, taking her in as one of his own children. He didn't believe she could fail, but then again, some dark thought in the back of his head told him that could easily be wrong.

The greyed combat master felt his heart nearly stop a beat as the door swung open, and yet from an outward apperance he didn't seem at all worried or distressed by the prospect of what the Ordeal chamber could show him. As the chamber door openned wider, he felt himself relax as he took a handful of steps forward to grab hold of the girl's upperarm as she stumbled out, clearly dazed.

While he was pleased, it was hidden well from his experessions and voice as he spoke the words that were expected of him. "Alorah Kele, you have passed the first trial in becoming a warrior of the Shang Order."

There was a nod and a small smile that excaped the maiden as her full name, or at least, the name she had been given after being taken in by the Shang order as an orphan, was spoken. While she allowed herself to be escorted out of the room and down the hallway to her chamber. This was just the first step to a very long trial.