Chapter 2: Harrowing End
Sophia sighed heavily on her bed as she waited for the Templers to escort her to the Harrowing Chamber. Her hand shook slightly and she clenched it into a tight fist, she has to be strong if she plans to survive this test. 'Come on, pull yourself together. You've survived worse things.' She says to herself and the images flash across her eyes, another life it almost appears.
She is the strongest apprentice the Circle of Magi has seen in quite some time. So naturally she survived the 'incident' several years ago. She has changed since that day; she can never truly trust anyone again, except her best friend Jowan, who has been her support since she arrived in this prison tower.
"Sophia Surana, your Harrowing has arrived, follow us." The Templers had walked into the apprentices bedrooms and were standing in front of her.
Sophia stood up graciously and moved in front of the two tall Templers and headed out the door into the curving corridor. When she rounded the corner, another two Templers were waiting for them and one walked in front of her, one behind and the two on each side, making sure she didn't try to escape.
The walk to the Harrowing chamber doesn't take very long, but it didn't seem to be quick enough for Sophia. All the looks the other apprentices had given her some concerned while others were angry. The chamber door banged shut and the click of the door locking echoed around the large room.
The large room was dark as it was late at night and only the moonlight shinning through the glass roof was a source of light. A silver pedestal stood at the middle, First Enchanter Irving was standing next to it along with Gregoir. Another dozen Templers stood around in a near complete circle a few metres from Irving and Gregoir.
Sophia walked up to Irving and Gregoir nervously, pulling on a brave face. She finally unclenched her fists and relaxed her body, after all to enter the Fade; she would have to leave her body behind.
"You are about to undertake your Harrowing, should you succeed you will be a part of the Circle, but should you fail..." Irving trailed off, unable to voice the alternative awaiting her.
"You're not allowed to help them Irving, she must do this alone." He stressed the alone and gave Irving a dirty look before gesturing his head towards the Fade pedestal.
Sophia's glistening emerald green eyes stared at the pedestal as if it would swallow her whole. 'Relax; you only have to worry about the demons not inanimate objects.' She reminded herself and took a deep breath before placing her right hand on the top of it and felt her mind being drawn out of her body.
The Fade looks a lot like a barren wasteland that sometimes seems invisible and always changes shape and forms, as if it is alive. Steeling her mind and heart she races down the only path available, time is of the essence and she doesn't have long before the Templers strike her body down in fear she took too long and was deemed an abomination.
The few wisps that stand in her way are no match for her lighting spell, the only offensive magic she knows, it comes to her as if it is apart of who she is, however the spirit wolves are a little trickier to care of.
She stops suddenly when she sees a spirit mouse standing in front of her, lightning at the ready just in case it is a demon in disguise.
"Ah so they've sent in another one." The mouse speaks to her and changes form into a young handsome man with chestnut brown hair and matching eyes.
Sophia folds her arms over her chest and asks cautiously "Who are you?"
"I was a mage like you, I- I failed, took too long. I- I don't remember my name. It's been s-so long now." His voice is quiet and his eyes glaze over, seeing something that she cannot.
She isn't stupid, far from it in fact, she knows that the being in front of her is a demon simply because he has approached her first before anything else could influence her. An excellent disguise, making him to appear as a spirit of a failed mage, but she knows that a failed mage would have nothing left even in the Fade. Not a concept every mage knew unfortunately.
She decides it would be best to play along for now because it's best to keep your friends close and your enemies closer. "Would you mind assisting me? Perhaps we can destroy the demon that kills all the mages during this trial?" She asks innocently, knowing full well that the demon wouldn't refuse.
"S-sure, though I'm not sure how much help I will be." The essence of the young man shines a little brighter, trying to show how happy he is.
The man changes back into the form of a mouse and hops along beside her as Sophia continues her way down narrow path. A few more wisps and spirit wolves are no real threat to her anymore as she has a demon right next to her.
It doesn't take long before the mouse speaks. "There is a spirit up ahead, he appears strong but he might be able to help us."
Sophia stops and turns her gaze onto the fussy animal sat nearly on her ankles and stares questioningly down at him. "Are you sure? Does he have a name or something?" She doesn't know how much time has passed, but she figures it couldn't have been too long as her companion doesn't seem to be that worried about her safety just yet.
"He is a spirit of Valour I believe. Whether he has a name, that I don't know." The mouse replied and started hopping ahead of her once again. "Just like I call myself mouse, for that is what I am now..." He speaks weakly with a deep sadness in his voice and she almost feels sorry for the creature, but reminds herself it is a demon and so she feels sorry for the being he is imitating, for it would have been a previous mage like her.
After approaching the spirit of Valour and persuading him to create a staff for her to use in the fade, Sophia and 'mouse' continue on the only path available to them and encounter a Sloth demon. At first Sophia is on edge but it soon becomes clear that the Sloth demon has no interested in taking over her body and so she kindly asks it to teach 'mouse' to transform into a bear.
"I will teach you, if you can answer my riddles, that is." The Sloth demon challenges her and she knows she must accept in order to succeed at this test and survive.
"Very well, I am ready for your riddles." She answers, confident that whatever the Sloth demons throws at her, she will solve it easily. She remembers that one of her former instructors used to talk in riddles for no reason, but apparently it was for this very trial.
A couple of minutes later and the Sloth demon teaches her Fade companion how to become a vicious bear and she reluctantly thanks the demon for his time before turning and walking swiftly away back the way she came. She can sense the presence of another Demon that clearly means to hurt her and do Maker knows what else.
Clutching her staff tightly in her right hand and readying a lethal lightning spell in her left, Sophia and 'mouse' run down the path, passing the Valour spirit and heading into a small alcove where the Demon eagerly awaits them. She's sure that is demon's could look snug then it would be right now.
She isn't surprised when the Demon starts talking to her companion, saying things about how they used to work together and how it's disappointed. 'Seriously, you're all demons how can you trust yourselves let anyone else?' Sophia thinks to herself before dodging out of the way of one the demons attacks.
She lets loose the lightning spell she was holding and dispatches the wisps with ease, however the Demon is far more difficult. She raises her staff and creates an arcane shield just in time to protect herself from another fireball. 'Mouse' had at some point transformed into a bear and lunged at the demon and started clawing at its arms, trying to tear them off.
Sophia fires several arcane bolts at the Demon and casts a healing spell on herself, before releasing one last lightning bolt. With one last swipe of the bears' claws, the Fade Demon melts to the ground and disappears away into nothingness.
"Now that's done, I guess you can leave now." Her companion transforms back into it's human form and smiles weakly at her. The look in his eyes is almost pathetic and vulnerable, but in reality it's far from it. "If only there was a way for us to go back together..." His voice trails off as he thinks of a way to convince her of his plan that he's had all along.
"I know! Why don't you let me in? That way we can go back together! What do you say?" His eyes are pleading like a child's asking for a treat and Sophia knows that this is the true test of the Harrowing.
She holds and points her staff at him, threatening him. "Sorry but I have a no demons allowed policy. You never had me fooled for even a second." She smirks at him and prepares to channel a fire spell through her staff when the mouse demon laughs.
"Clever indeed. We will have you one day, Elf. You can't escape us forever." The look in his eyes told her that it knew about the incident several years and all the memories she tried to keep buried almost overwhelmed her.
Then she felt a change sensation wash over as she was pulled away back into the real world. As the Fade melted away around her she faintly heard the Demon's last words to her.
"True tests never end."
A/N: Sorry for the long delay, I had serious writer's block but hopefully it's all cleared up now. Please let me know what you think.