I roll across the cold side of the bed and slam down on the alarm. Unnecessary noise. My hope is that my own dread prevented the Goddess Elona from blessing me with sleep last night. The wet sheets support this notion. Thoughts still race to occasions I may have wronged her, something I may have done to prevent her visit. I can think of none, but this does not squelch the fear. It’s then I remember the reason for its presence in the first place. I hadn’t realised it, but I had just been experiencing those blissful first few minutes a person enjoys when waking up. Apparently it works after a restless night of dozing, too. With these moments swiftly passed the realisation of what is in store today hits me like an enraged beast. At this point I would have happily accepted my mind wandering away again to images of angry beasts chasing humans and alike. Anything but what was actually going to happen. Alas, this did not occur.
It’s Friday the 30th of June and in four hours I will be moving on.
I force myself to the shower to both cleanse and calm. I tie up my long bronze hair and cover it; I’m in no shape to redo it afterwards. I had spent the best part of the previous evening making it in some way presentable, treating it as a chore and a distraction. It had worked. I’d never admit it out loud but I thought it almost looked pretty.
I next slip into my ceremonial gown. All Prospects are given one at the beginning of training. It is expected that you still fit into it five years later. I have always been fairly small and rarely lose or gain too much weight, so I would be fine. I’d heard horror stories of Prospects, unable to wear their gowns or robes, being forced to not only miss the ceremony, but moving on all together. I dread to think what happens to them after. Dread. There it is again. The very words brings my very own version back to my consciousness, front and centre.
I have not the stomach for breakfast or make-up, so I leave the house with neither. I know it will not matter anyway. I call out to mother as I leave, as I always do. She does not utter a reply, simply sits in her chair and stares out the open window across the green expanse of Whitefield, as she always does. I can count on one hand the amount of times she has left that chair since father passed. I can count on one finger the amount of times she has spoken. Soon, none of it will matter.
The walk to the auditorium is long and uneventful. My favourite kind. Numerous other Prospects pass me in the street, on the field. Some say nothing, some say things. I speak to no one and no one speaks to me. Peaceful. Bliss. The auditorium comes into view; the ceremonial music is already playing. Dread. It’s back. I’ll shortly be stood in Greta Hall with hundreds of other prospects. I’ll shortly after that be stood at the front of Greta Hall receiving news of my pass or of my fail. Good news brings your power and passage on. Bad news does not. I guess it’s a nervous time for any prospect, not only me. But the looks on their faces, their happy, joyous faces tells me otherwise. In a few hours time it will all be over.
I reach the auditorium doors having already successfully drowned out the music. I’ll work on the voices once inside. I slip in and find my place without bother, unseen. I’m one of only a handful of Prospects already standing amongst the great relics of Greta Hall. The statues of famous Gods and much-loved heroes. Their weapons, their creatures and their souvenirs from defeated foes. It’s not long before I block all this out too. Most Prospects stay outside for a while, chatting and mingling. It’s a full thirty minutes before the hall is filled. Prospects pass me this way and that without a single eye line being met. How I survived this period I will never know. It was the longest thirty minutes of my short life. The ceremonial music suddenly bounds throughout the hall and The Great Old One enters the stage. I clench my fists and think of home. My real home. It’s the only place the dread cannot reach me. I close my eyes. Only now do I allow myself a fleeting thought of the Earth Realm and everything it will bring. None of you would guess it, but I already know I’ve passed.
Just hold on a little longer.
In one hour it will all be over and I shall leave this place with the one power I did not need any training to obtain.