Sunlight filtered through the window, splaying across the hardwood. The walls were curved; forming an almost uninterrupted circle around the single room. By the window was a bed, on which a form slept. It was woken by the sound of someone pounding on his door, and to the shouts of "Hey! Trivalden! You awake? If your are, then get out here already!"

Round, sapphire eyes fluttered open at the shout, and he sat up, blinking the sleep from his tired eyes. He was tall, nearly six feet when standing, and dirty blond hair fell gently to just past his chin, slight stubble of the same color covered his lower jaw. His pointed ears twitched instinctively, adjusting to slight increase of blood in them.

It took Trivalden, for that was the youth's name, a second to figure out who had woken him up, but then a smile graced his face as he placed managed to place the voice. It was Rhaden, his long time sparring partner, and best friend. He slung his legs over the edge of the bed he had been sleeping in, and walked over to his dresser, quickly pulling out some clothes.

His brain was still a bit fuzzy with sleep, but something was off. He almost never saw his friend this early in the morning, usually waiting for the time they would meet up for their daily spar.

Shrugging off the oddity, he walked the door, pausing to snag an apple from the basket on the table and to put on his boots. When he stepped outside, he paused, taking a deep breath of the outside air, allowing the sights and smells of the forest to assault his senses. In front of him, leaning against one of the bridge posts hammered into the deck, was Rhaden. His short brown hair ruffled by the wind, the tips of his pointed ears twitching as they angled to better catch sound. He had his usual arrogant smirk on, but his body seemed to vibrate with excitement.

"About time," he said, his voice light, "If I'd known you slept deeper than a thistle bear in the middle of winter, I'd have just gone on to the Trial instead of agreeing to wake you up."

Trivalden tilted his head to the side, his face showing his confusion. Trial? What…oh! Recognition spread across his face, and it was quickly replaced with a grimace. "Shit," he muttered placing a hand on his forehead in self rebuke "Is today really the Day of Trial?" Rhaden looked at his friend, surprise evident on his tanned features.

"Seriously?" he asked, that one word conveying all of the shock and surprise he was most likely feeling. Instead of responding, the blond just nodded his head, a few locks of hair falling into his eyes.

After Rhaden got over the shock, his smirk returned stronger than ever, "Well, despite your obvious stupidity, at least you had the intelligence to ask me to come wake you up today."

Trivalden nodded in silent agreement. Yesterday, after they had finished sparring, he had asked his long time friend if he could come wake him up in time, because he usually sleet in on Thirdsday, since his responsibilities didn't start until late afternoon. Rhaden had agreed, his friendly nature allowing him to take it without a favor owed. It had slightly shammed the blond, knowing he personally would have taken advantage of the situation.

"Yeah, yeah," he said, brushing off his feelings of guilt, "Let's go, we're already late as it is." With that said, he took off across the rope bridge, heading for the main branchway, ignoring Rhaden's cries of protest. He lived on the northern outskirts of Eldoren, and the Trial was being held at the southern plaza, so they had to hurry if they were going to make it in time.

Trivalden sprinted along the paths, cutting corners at every chance he had. He never slowed down, even when he had to duck out of the way of carts or weave through crowded areas. When that wasn't possible, he ran along the very edge of the branch or the rope of the bridge, his hands held out precariously to either side. He didn't have to look back to know that Rhaden was keeping up, and that the brunet was navigating his way through the city as easily as he was. Some people would say that this was reckless; that what they were doing was dangerous even for an elf when the ground was some three hundred feet bellow. But they weren't worried; they had done this since they were taught how to five years ago in sword training, and moving like this was second nature to them. They had never made a mistake before, and the recklessness of youth still pumped in their veins, and they never had a reason to believe that their assurance was misplaced.

In a bout of recklessness, Trivalden ran along the side of an Eldor trunk, sprinting across the ten-foot gap between two of its branches so that he could avoid a long detour that he would have to otherwise take. Near the end, his almost slipped on a patch of wet moss, and almost lost his balance. He was saved from a horrible death only by a baby Eldorcone hanging in front of him. Grabbing onto to it, he swung himself across the last few inches, but the cone was torn as he flew.

He landed, and stared at the seed in his hand. It was a regrettable loss of life, and he took a brief second to apologize to the nymph inhabiting the tree, before placing the seed inside one of his pockets. As he did, Rhaden landed besides him, and took off, unaware off his friend's brief silence, and sprinted off down the relatively deserted branch. Startled, Trivalden ran after him, unwilling to lose. Despite the countless number of times they've done this before.

Some may call it childish, others will say it's a good way to stay fit, but really, it was just for the sheer thrill it; the thrill of competing with a friend, trying to see who could outdo the other, and nothing else. Well, sometimes it was because it helped us get somewhere faster, but that was a minor thing.

After twenty or so more minutes of running, the two finally reached the trial grounds. It had a large platform at one end, and the rest of the area was flat and smooth, the branch having been sung wide and flat. On the center of the branch stood a large crowd of elves, both male and female, who were sixteen years of age. Those who weren't sixteen stood off to the side, keeping a respectful distance as the day demanded. The friends slipped into the throng, not wishing to draw attention by standing near the edge. But as always, where ever he went, Trivalden was noticed. People stared, they whispered, they gossiped, and they pointed. And all of it was directed at him. He ignored them mostly, but whenever some was too overt, too careless, or to rude, he fixed them with a cold stare, and they quickly turned away.

After a few minutes, a high, melodious whistle pierced through the noise. The crowd fell silent, and all eyes turned to the platform as a tall, silver haired elf walked onto it. His face was gentle and benevolent, and his eyes, the same color as his hair, showed his kind and loving spirit to all. He wore long, flowing robes of forest green and silver, and upon his head sat a small, thin band of silver. It was intricately carved, with its pattern's of branch and leaf hard to see from a distance, but yet the magic woven into it was impossible to miss.

Opening his mouth, crown prince Ilveyren Asten, son of King Dorafeal Doralvey, the Lord of the Trees, addressed the crowd, his voice ringing out through the glade, "Loyal subjects, honored guests, and hopeful young ones, I welcome you this year of Eldoren's Trial of Names, where the futures of many an elf will be decided." He paused to allow the cheers of the crowd to die down, and then continued, "As many of you know, the trial is a task that every one of our people has or will go through. It is a right of passage, a coming of age, a test of strength for every elf who came of years six and ten this cycle. It is a tradition that our race has held since the Tranquil Time, when things such as war and conflict never existed, when Dwarf and Elf ate and drank at the same table, when Angel and Daemon sung songs together, and when Human and Troll children played together, all without fear of a knife in their back.

"But while those times are over, our race alone remains firm. We alone have held onto our tradition, our culture, and our sanity. While the other races have lost themselves to bloodlust and insanity, we stand strong. And so it is, as we have always done, the new generation, the next to follow in the footsteps of the old, forsake the names of their birth, no longer will they be Kahden, son of the black eagle, or Elmarel, daughter of the leaves. No, now, as always, they shall take up their true names, their names of prophecy, which announce their destinies to the world, they shall become Torahae, smith of gold, or Aedorine, her arrows fly true! It is now that a new group of elves step forward, to embrace the future given them!" as his speech progressed, Ilveyren's voice grew in volume, and it became laced with passion, until all were swept up in the intensity of his speech. When he finished, there was a brief silence, and it broke with roar and screams of approval from the audience.

Trivalden was not exempt from this, for he found himself screaming just as loudly as any other. Later, when he had time to reflect on it, it would strike him how much charisma the prince had. It had only been the first time most of the people their had ever seen him, and yet they found themselves completely devoted to him, willing do anything he asked of me.

After a few minutes had passed, the prince raised his hand for silence, and immediately the crowed obeyed. The absence of sound suddenly made the world feel empty, but that lonely feeling was chased away into the darkest of corners by the prince's voice, "Now, one by one, you shall come forward and place your hand on the Orb of Vision, and receive your name." With that, one of his advisors near the back of the stage stepped forward, and placed a large, green orb on top of a silver podium directly in front of the prince.

There was a pregnant silence, as everyone waited for some to step up, to take the initiative. Their silent pleading was answered in the form of a young woman. She hesitantly stepped up onto the platform, her long onyx hair fluttering behind her. She wore a light green tunic that looked to be made of silk, light, brown-grey pants, and brown leather belt and boots. Her slim face had a determined set to it, but if one were to look into her eyes, those deep, emerald pools, they we see the fear and uncertainty she felt.

Once the girl was three strides from prince Ilveyren, she stopped and curtsied low, showing the respect he was due. Smiling pleasantly, the prince nodded in turn, as befitted his station, giving her his permission to rise. Once she had straightened, he asked the words of tradition, "What is your name, child?"

She looked him straight in the eye, combating her nervousness, "To this day," she answered, the ceremonial words falling from her lips, "my name has been Blaerel, daughter of the night, but now I shed that name, and take up the name fate has given me." With that, she reached her left hand forward, and placed it against the smooth surface of the orb. Her body went ridged, and her eyes took on a far away look, signaling that her trial had begun.

What one saw in the orb of vision varied from person to person, just as how the traits the Orb tried changed as well. There were some who said they had fought great monsters, utilizing skills and powers they did not know they possessed, or possesses since. Others said that they had to solve a puzzle, and that they had varying degrees of success. Others still said that they had talked to a long since dead relative, who asked them why they were there. And yet those were but a few of the many trials that could take place.

The crowed watched on in anticipation, their restrained silence barely held within them. Trivalden too, couldn't help but wait with bated breath, the first of the names was always so exciting, simply because it was the first. After a few minutes pasted, the Orb began to glow. Slowly, silver letters began to appear in the air above it. When finished, there, hanging in the air, in the ghostly, elvish letters, were the words Elai Dael'foren, Light, Bane of Darkness.

There was a stunned silence for a few seconds, and then a round of massive applause went up, and many people were screaming their approval. To receive the title name of Dael'foren, a name that has only ever been bestowed onto great heroes, was a true honor, and a rare occurrence that few lived to see. And the honor was not just for one's self, but also for their children, who would inherit the names of Dael'den and Dael'rel, son of the bane, and daughter of the bane.

Elai, who had awaken from her trance the second the last letter had been written, was still in shock, she stared out over the crowd, her emerald eyes shimmering with unshed tears of happiness. Her hands were still held to her mouth, having muffled her scream of joy.

Finally, after the crowd had calmed down, two of the prince's aids guided her back down the steps, too where her family waited happily for her. A young boy launched himself at her, and she spun around, clutching him tightly as she did. When she finished, a middle-aged woman, who must be her mother, rushed up to her, tears of joy and pride rolling down her face as she clutched her daughter tightly. A tall man stood a few feet away from them, his black hair and emerald eyes proclaiming Elai as his daughter, a proud smile on his face as he smiled down at her.

A pang of jealousy shot through Trivalden as he watched them, before he stamped it down. But it had been there, that treacherous snake that so often intruded into his mind. Why should she be given a name that proclaims her a hero? Why should she have loving family? What has she done to deserve it? It hissed at him. He tried to ignore what it had said, instead turning his attention back to the orb, where a boy had already stepped up to it.

For a moment, a cynical part of his mind thought that it would be amusing if someone managed to earn the name of Akridos. It was one of the few words that the ancient elves had adopted into the elvish tongue, and so it was not elegant at all. It did not flow off the tongue like the wind rolled through the leaves, or water through a stream, which was very fitting. It meant Chaos, pure unadulterated chaos. It was the most evil of evils to an elf. It did not respect the cycle of nature; it never did anything for a reason. To them, it shouldn't even exist.

Trivalden shook off that line of thought, and tried to direct his attention elsewhere. Unfortunately, it wandered back to the place where his jealousy had gone to treat its wounds, and they gladly struck up conversation. He started to predict what kind of future Elai would have, his envy overruling all other thoughts. No doubt she would become a great warrior, her name know throughout the continent, feared by her enemies, loved by her people. As a reward for her great deeds, she would be granted the honor of marrying into the royal house, and, if she was lucky, she might even garner the favor of Ilveyren himself, and would obtain the coveted position of queen.

His thoughts continued like this for some time, until he felt movement to his immediate left. Turning, he saw that it was now Rhaden's turn to be named. His sour mood fled him, replaced only with nerves for his close friend. Out of all of the citizens of Eldoren, few had ever been able to truly except him. And most of those who did distanced themselves from him, not that he blamed them. If they were seen as friends with the village pariah, they and their family would be ostracized from society.

But Rhaden was different; he hadn't let that stop him, even though his family was largely against it. As a result, their bond ran deep, and they were brothers in all but blood.

The brunet walked up onto the stage, towards where the Orb sat. He was nervous, that much was obvious. His legs shook as he moved, almost as if his weight was too much for them to bear. His tongue seemed to be constantly darting out in a vain attempt at keeping his lips moist. When he reached the Orb, the prince asked, "What is your name, child?" and he responded, with only a slight tremor in his voice, with "To this day, my name has been Rhaden, son of the sun, but now I shed that name, and take up the name fate has given me." Slowly, he placed his trembling hand on the Orb, and closed his eyes in concentration.

Only a few moments passed before the letters began to spell themselves out, there had been no time for tension filled silence like there had been for others. When it finished, the word hanging in the air read Shidor Lygerel, loyalty of the great wolf. As the crowd gave its congratulatory applause, Trivalden couldn't help but let out his breath with an amused chuckle. His friend's name fitted him perfectly. He was as loyal as any wolf, and, like the beast, when those close to him were threatened, he would defend them with his very life if necessary.

The blond smiled at his friend as he descended from the stage, his face bursting with pride and joy. His family, who, while they still disapproved of his friendship with Trivalden, were overjoyed with the name he had been given, and embraced him. The orphan felt the jealousy inside himself try to creep upon him, but he shut it out long before it reached the door. This was Rhaden's moment, and as his friend, he should be glad for him.

After a few seconds, Trivalden turned away from the family, only to realize that it was his turn. He hastily walked up the stairs, until he had walked onto the stage. A hush fell over the crowd as soon as they saw him, and he looked over them for a few, brief seconds. The number of those left to be named had greatly diminished, in fact, now that he was given the chance to look properly; he realized that he was the last one. There had been around a hundred youths who had already received their names today and now he was the only left. Had that much time really passed? Gulping, he turned and walked forward, towards the orb and the prince.

Surprise flickered across the prince's face for the briefest of moments, before it was hidden beneath a kind smile. For a second, Trivalden couldn't help but wonder if he was surprised to see him specifically, but he shook the thought off. Anyone would be surprised to see someone like him. When he had stepped up to the prince, he said, as he had countless time already, "What is your name, child?"

As the words left the prince's lips, Trivalden felt all of his nerves flee him. It was not replaced by confidence, but rather, acceptance. For reasons that he couldn't understand, he felt that whatever fate he was given would be all right. That it was no use worrying over what great feats he would or would not commit, just that he should except it and move on with his life. With that feeling in his heart, he pronounced, with no uncertainty or hesitancy in his voice, "To this day, my name has been Trivalden, son of none, but now I shed that name, and take up the name fate has given me." And with the words spoken, he reached out with his right hand, and placed it on the Orb.

His vision darkened, and for a few seconds, all he saw was black. Then it cleared and he saw…white. That was all he saw, nothing but white. Everything around him, for as far as the eye could see was white. But yet there was nothing to see, no white tree or white flooring, just a plain expanse of white. There was no up or down, there was no forward or backwards, there wasn't even left or right. He looked to where his hand should be, by his side, and found that it was there, as well as the rest of his body. But what was missing were his clothes. His forest green tunic, his leather pants, and his hunter knife, which was sheathed into his belt, even the silver medallion that he had always worn around his neck, and had never taken off, was gone.

But yet, he did not feel cold, nor did he feel warm. In fact, he did not feel anything. He did not feel any kind of ground beneath his feet, or the air passing over his arm as it was swept through the air. Along with the loss of feeling, he had also lost all of his other senses. He did not taste anything; even the moisture that he was sure was in his mouth. He did not smell anything, not even the scent of stale air. And most terrifying of all, he could not hear anything.

Elves always heard sound, the magic that pulsed through their veins catching even the tiniest of whispers. Yet now, he heard nothing. If he could feel, he would have noticed that his breath was quickening as panic set in. He looked around frantically, hoping that he would see something different, but yet all he saw was white. As fear took over him, he began to run, his legs moving even though he did not feel them. he had no idea where he was going, or even if he had moved an inch from the spot where he had stood before. The emotions began running through his brain, over riding any other though. He felt like a cornered animal, trapped, alone, scared, with no hope of escaping.

Suddenly, a voice rung out through the emptiness. Interesting, it came, slow and deliberate. When it spoke, terror ruled, and Trivalden wanted nothing but for it to stop. But when it did, the silence that reigned was just as terrible, and he wished for it to continue, if only to just kill the absence of sound. As it had spoken he had stopped his futile running, and had looked about, trying to find the source, not even sure if he wanted to know what it was.

Yes, it said, very interesting, never before has there been one quite like this one.

Well? Said another voice, seeming to slip and slither through the terrible silence, what are we to do? Never before have we seen one quite like this. It felt as if it were whispering in his ear, the desire it had for what he had clearly audible.

I am sorry, said a third one. It echoed with sorrow and pain, as if blaming itself for all of the unfortunate things that happened in the world. But I cannot fathom what the next step should be.

{This is true, but I am grateful for this new opportunity,} Said a fourth voice. For an inexplicable reason, Trivalden felt relief spreading through himself; maybe he was thankful for the warmth and kindness that emanated from this one. {Maybe a look into what Others it feels would help enlighten us?} The other voices seemed to murmur in agreement, and then everything became quite. The silence stretched on for what felt like just a few seconds, yet also eleven days.

Eventually the first voice sighed. Well? It said, Speak up, we are all waiting on you. The annoyance in its tone spurned the object of their attention into replying, and he heard his own voice ringing out throughout the room. "Where am I?" he asked, it was odd, hearing your voice, but not feeling your lips move, or taste the air moving from in your mouth.

That's an easy one. The second voice said slowly and enviously, you are everywhere, and nowhere. You are here, and you are there.

"Then what am I doing?"

{You are waiting. Waiting for the name we will give you.}

"Well why are you taking so long?" he asked somewhat annoyed. He knew he shouldn't have been so impatient, but his rational mind was beginning to be overrun again. He wanted to leave this place, he wanted to see the tall trees of Eldoren, feel the sun against his skin, hear the wind rustling through the leaves, taste the fresh air on his tongue, and smell the scents of the forest.

The voices chuckled, and then one responded. We are sorry, it is just that…you are the first of your kind we have ever encountered, and I feel it is my fault for your predicament.

"You mean my halfblood?" Trivalden shouted, sudden rage bursting forth at the insult and suffusing his mind, "You mean the fact that my mother betrayed my people by bedding a human! That she cursed me with this filly heritage before dying after my birth!"

The silence that followed was deafening, and he suddenly realized that my senses were returning. He could feel my blood pounding in his ears, hear the rapid intakes of breath, taste the mucus in his mouth, and smell some indefinable sent in his nostrils. Slowly, his vision began to darken, but before it did, he saw a shadow start to take form in the space before him. The last thing he heard before his vision went black was a fifth voice. It sounded perfectly normal, it did not radiate fear or envy or but yet it radiated power, strength, and many more indescribable things. It said, "I have just the name for you."

…And then Trivalden was bombarded with the activity of the forest. He heard the call of birds, squirrels and other woodland critters, felt the weights of his clothes on his skin, the support of the tree beneath him, and the wind brushing through his hair.

Slowly he opened my eyes, finding himself staring out at a silent crowd. There was no movement amongst them, and they all stared up at him. Some had their mouths open, others had theirs clenched tight. Yet all of them stared with what seemed to be fear in their eyes. After a few moments, he realized that their gazes were not directed at him, but to his immediate left, where his new name hung over the Orb.

Blinking, Trivalden turned in that direction, taking in the sight that had enraptured so many. What he saw made his blood run cool as it drained from his face, and he tried to step backwards, only to trip and fall on his back. But still no one's gaze moved. Not the crowd's, not the prince's, whose smile had fallen into a look of horror. Hanging above the orb was not two, but one, single, word. There was no title of honor; nothing that gave any hint as to what path it's bearer should take.

Instead, all there was, was one word, an ultimatum to the world.

Trivalden felt the bitter irony slowly sink in, as cruel fate twisted his brief, selfish wish to its own ends. There, in silver letters, floating proudly for all to see, was his new name for all to see.

Akridos