Chapter One:

First Few Steps

"Zzzz… if only…" I said silently while I slept with a large pillow by my side in the Inn.

"You should probably be waking up now, unless you want to be late?" said Beatrix sitting on the bench by the Inn door. Out of annoyance she decided to leave me with the bill for staying in for the night. "You can deal with this? Can't you?"

After a long rummage through my pockets for some spare change and paying the innkeepers, I quickly caught up with her fast pacing.

"You seem confident today, did you go through some midnight training?" I ruthlessly asked. She seemed to have noticed the fact I was trying to change the subject for sleeping in late.

"If you really want to take this thing seriously, try sleeping earlier instead of reading those lousy scrolls of yours! What good are they anyway! They're just some prehistoric mumbo-jumbo!" She angrily mentioned.

"For your information, these scrolls hold the information for the class I'm taking at this apprenticeship. Don't you record results on your archery skills? I'm sure you need at least a reference to refer on? I swear you haven't shot a bullseye in these last three months of training!" I exclaimed firmly. "Look at your brother, he's already finished his Magician apprenticeship by studying his scrolls while practicing the spells and he passed without even breaking a sweat!"

She looked at me not with her eyes, but with her blinding fist. I fell to the ground with a red mark on my face and luckily for her, that was her soft punch.

"That's for all the times you've annoyed me, even as little children… OH WAIT… you're still a child aren't you? And by the way, you haven't exactly seen every nook and cranny of my archery skills!" she madly explained.

Without a word, we cooperatively just walked to the apprenticeship camp in the forest just below the city. I was surprised she kept quiet for the remainder of the journey. Once we had arrived, her brother Francis was already there to watch our performances.

"Hey there, good luck today but I'm sure you both won't need that luck. I've seen how dedicated you both have been, so get out there and do your utmost best!" encouragingly said Francis.

He was always there during the months to support us. Beatrix's tryout came first. There were many targets scattered on the field for her to shoot and it was judged simply on timing and accuracy. The targets would pop out of the ground very quickly, so her reactions would also judge her performance.

"Hope I made it in, I missed a few times but my immediate reaction to the targets should still count? Shouldn't it?" she asked eagerly.

"Of course, I'm sure you made it in. The others I've seen over the months didn't even get to shoot at anything." He said out of relief.

My trial came shortly after. The judges seemed to be very strict, judging only from their face expressions and tone of voice. I don't think they've seen a decent performance in my class all day! My class involved the manipulation of various basic elemental spells and swordsmanship. My class had curative abilities as well, but they cannot be taught from scrolls or a lesson, they must be passed on from another person with the same or similar abilities.

"Wish me luck" I asked Beatrix and Francis.

"Yeah whatever…" She said carelessly.

"Just ignore her, and do your absolute best! Remember what I taught you!" he said with great motivation.

I started out with enchanting my blade with a Flame Ritual which will allow my sword to cast multiple Fire-based spells for an allotted amount of time. Using the scrolls Beatrix neglected, I summoned a great inferno to the barren field followed up with a Cryonic Ritual causing my blade to cast Ice-based artillery. I caused it to gently snow so that the snow would melt into water causing the fire to cease burning the field. Now using a scroll I saved months for to buy, I enchanted my blade with the power of the Arcane which warped the field strangely causing the flames to return while the snow lingered. It seemed almost impossible that the snow did not melt, but it seemed like I aced that move quite well.

After the short performance, the judges had a short chat with Francis. They offered me the position of Magician instead of my own class I wanted but I simply did not accept. Besides, I never liked what the Magicians wore for combat… seemed a little uncomfortable to walk in. The judges allowed me to pass on as a Sword-caster and continue my training.

After the main ceremony, the passing students were announced.

Beatrix and I were so happy to hear that we were accepted for the apprenticeships yet she still seemed to hate me for the early morning. We were all each given a scroll with a monster we must venture out and hunt for.

As we left the field, the grounds begun to shake violently like if Francis was manipulating the earth for amusement again. The earth formed a huge trench reaching miles down. Then out of that darkness approached a radiant, bright green light. Francis was the first to know what it was… it was his sister.

But before the light came out, a monstrous being sprouted out of the ground and attacked the light.

"Christie! Hold on!" yelled Francis.

He quickly deflected the light using his own spells. The monster seemed earth-based so he fought with Fire spells to distract the fiend.

Then out of the darkness came Christie, a young Summoner who passed the apprenticeship exam a few years ago and ventured out on her own journey. She was never heard of again.

She rode on her Phoenix made from her own mind and intellect and attacked the monster accordingly with her brother. They seemed like a fountain of flame sprouting out fireworks rather than brute strength and I did believe it was rather beautiful to see.

"Look, this is getting no where … just allow me to handle this" insisted Beatrix.

She shot the giant in the eye with a single arrow while it fell to the ground and disintegrated.

"Well, you're no fun sis… we were enjoying teaching that thing a lesson!" annoyingly said Francis.

"HEY! As long as we're all safe that's all that matters right? I haven't seen you two in years and look how much you've all grown! I could barely recognise you!" passionately said Christie, panting for a breath every now and then.

"Well, I guess the woman's right! So we can relax for the rest of the day now eh?" I said relieved.

We all headed for a day's earned rest at a rather pricey Inn, but Christie seemed to be loaded with spare change without having to search for hours for money in her pocket. This fact… I envied.

"Goodnight and welcome back to the group Christie couldn't have made it alive without you!" I said just to annoy Beatrix.

"Oh shush, we all know why we survived" Beatrix said out of flattery.

"Zzzz… YAWN!" shouted Francis in his sleep.

The days now continue, with an unexpected comrade to return to us. I sure hope many adventures are yet to come for the likes of us.

As I tried to sleep, the same underground tremor troubled my mind.

"What could this be telling us?"