“When you go out into the woods, you will be met with the Winter’s Mask, a warrior that is dressed in white, wears a mask of pale blue, and is skilled with a spear. When you see her, do not pull out your weapons, instead greet her with a bow, and she will lead you through the three trials.
“These trials will test not only your skill, but your teamwork, and loyalty to your team as well. I know you will succeed in these harsh trials. Good luck my students.”
Four young boys, not older than 16 years old, trudged through the shin deep snow, following their teacher’s commands.
“Do you think we’re almost there?” asked the first boy, called Faris, who had a black hair, dark brown eyes, and wielded a bow with a quiver of arrows.
“Honestly, I’m not really sure, but we have to trust our Master's instructions.” answered the second boy, called Kenzo, who had walnut colored hair, with hazel eyes, and wielded two daggers.
The third boy, called Adam, shivered from a gust of freezing wind; his hair was a dark, almost black, brown color, while his eyes were a sharp green, and on his belt he wielded a chain-like weapon that had a blade at one end. “Yeah, but did Master know it would be this cold?” he asked, his teeth chattering
“That’s what makes it a challenge Adam.” explained the fourth and final boy, called Sora, who had black hair like Faris, however his eyes were a cornflower blue, and he wielded a bo-staff
Another gust of wind blew through the trees, causing all four boys to shiver; all they had for clothing were their winter gi’s, but since they had been trained in cold weather for most of their lives, they didn’t get cold easily, but this weather seemed extra cold.
When Faris was trying to get himself warm again, he heard a whoosh above him, making him look toward the bare trees. His eyes scanned the branches but he saw nothing, that is until he caught the outline of a figure standing only yards away.
“Uh guys…” he muttered nervously, as the figure started coming closer. Kenzo, Adam, and Sora followed their friend’s trembling gaze, and froze in their tracks when they saw the figure.
Their hands went to their weapons almost immediately upon seeing the figure, but they hesitated to draw them. As the figure stalked closer, their outfit could be seen; a full white outfit, with a pale blue mask covering their entire face, and on their back was strapped on a spear with a wooden staff, and a silver, metallic blade.
“The Winter’s Mask…” Sora mumbled, breaking the shocked silence.
“Remember what Master told us, don’t draw your weapons, greet her with a small bow.” Kenzo recited. In unison, the boys pulled their hands away from their weapons, and did a small bow in an act of greeting.
“Welcome Kenzo, Faris, Adam, and Sora. It is nice to finally meet you.” The Winter’s spoke in a motherly, yet mysterious tone of voice, and though her face was covered by a mask, the students could hear her voice clearly.
“We are honored to be here. We were told that you would lead us through three trials.” Kenzo said, as he was the oldest, and had been dubbed leader of the group.
“That is true, there will be three trials, no more, no less. The first two will test your strength as both individuals and a team, however the third will be your greatest challenge; it will test your loyalty to your team. Now, follow me, for your first trial awaits.” The Winter's Mask explained, before turning on her heel, and walking the opposite direction.
The boys looked at each other, but without wasting another moment they followed the mysterious warrior.
10 minutes later…
After lots of walking, the boys and the Winter’s Mask came upon a clearing in the woods. The boys gaped at the sight: the trees that surrounded the clearing were a perfect circle, and there was no snow within the circle either, instead it was all marble.
“Welcome boys to your first trial; enter the circle, and the rest will be up to you.” The Winter’s Mask exclaimed, when the boys’ eyes weren’t paying attention.
“Wait, what does that-” Adam turned around as he spoke, but cut himself off when he saw that female warrior had mysteriously disappeared.
“I guess we enter the circle like she told us to.” Sora said, walking towards the circle.
As soon as all four boys entered the circle, the wind seemed to cease, and everything went quiet, a little too quiet.
“Okay, well this is-” Faris was cut off by the ground shaking, causing the four boys to collapse to their knees on the floor.
Around them, four cave-like dens emerged from the snow, and when they fully rose up, the shaking stopped, and the boys were able to get back to their feet.
Kenzo looked around at the caves that had just emerged from nowhere, and saw each one had a weapon marking at the mouth of it. He then looked at his feet, and saw the same weapon symbols.
“I think we have to match these symbols. The weapons are the ones we have.” he pointed out to the others. Adam, Faris, and Sora, looked at the symbols, and they’re eyes lit up when the realization hit them.
“You guys ready?” Sora asked, when they stood in front of their symbol. The boys nodded, and in unison, they stepped on their symbol.
Red lines cut the circular floor into four’s, and from the glowing lines came wall barriers separating the boys, and trapping them with their assigned den.
“Never mind, I wasn’t ready for that.” Faris shouted, so the other could hear him.
Brother instinct took over Kenzo, since he had trained with the other three, and they were all practically brothers, so he started looking for a way to get to them.
“Is everyone alright?” he asked, when he was convinced there was no way to get over the walls.
“Yeah, we’re fine!” Faris, Adam, and Sora shouted back, making Kenzo sigh with relief, however, that didn’t last long.
In their separate sections, Faris, Adam, Sora, and Kenzo turned around slowly towards their dens.
Four Animals emerged: Kenzo had a enormous Lion stalking towards him, Adam had a pitch black bull huffing out of the den, Faris had a brown bear stomping out into his section, and Sora had a Snow Leopard emerge from the den’s shadows.
As the four animals stalked the boys back into their section’s corner, Kenzo looked up, and gasped; standing on top of the place where the four walls intersected is where she stood; The Winter’s Mask.
“Welcome to your first trial, young students.” she said; Kenzo wondered if she was smirking under that pale, blue mask of hers.
The warrior vanished into the forest again, leaving the boys at the mercy of the wild creatures.
To be continued…