The Testing - A Short Story


February 24, 2017


   It's been a good four months since I posted my last short story - 10 'Till Midnight - and I figured it was high time I gave you guys another peek at my writing. The Testing certainly isn't the best thing I've ever written (I wrote+edited it in under three hours - go figure), but I hope you all will enjoy it none the less!
   (shout out to Abi, Anika, and Hann for helping with edits! You guys are great <3)  

The Testing, a short story by Savanna Grace

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  The Grand Wizard Tested male children for Talent every three years – the Talent to be one of his apprentices. I think.
  But I’m not really sure – I’m only fourteen, and I was too sick to attend the last Testing. But at least I know that it happens every three years.
  Every three years only.
  But for some reason, here I am. Seven months before the Testing, knocking on the front door of the Wizard’s castle like he had invited me for afternoon tea.
  The nervous kneading I gave my hat said otherwise.
  I was calling on the Grand Wizard half on a dare, but mostly out of desperation. In our village, any boy of fourteen years must be employed in some way or another, otherwise they were sent to the coal mines to earn their keep. I never got employed (mum says I have no aspiration, but I don’t think she really means it). If the Grand Wizard refused to test me -  or if I didn’t actually have any Talent – it would be off to the coal mines for poor Norman Aleck.
  I glanced over my shoulder. This hadn’t seemed like a good idea in the first place, and it was getting worse by the minute. I bet myself two shillings that I could rabbit my way across the over-flowered lawn and be out of here in a jiffy. Maybe I should–
  I about jumped out of my skin when the castle door flew open. Strangling my hat between my fingers, I took in the man who stood at the door. Middle-aged, dignified, and smartly dressed. And obviously waiting for me to talk. I rattled off my speech to this butler.
  “G’ afternoon, sir. I know the Testing isn’t for another seven months yet, but I’m real desperate, and I need the Grand Wizard to test me now, see? If you could just take me to ‘im, I know he’d understand – Mum says I’m real persuasive.” I paused for breath, then tacked on a, “please, sir”, for good measure.
  The man leaned against one side of the threshold and blinked at me. “They call me the Grand Wizard now? How odd. Well, persuade me, boy.”
  I blinked back. “You’re the Grand Wizard?”
  It wasn’t a good comeback, but I can’t say that I’m brilliant. This wasn’t going as planned anymore.
  “S-sorry,” I immediately stammered, giving an awkward bow and almost dropping my hat. “Sorry, I just… sir, I need you to test me.”
  The Grand Wizard’s brown eyes – very plain brown eyes, really – narrowed. “Not terribly persuasive, are you?”
  “I’m being taken to the coal mines tomorrow, sir!” I pleaded. “Please, it’ll kill my mum to have me going there, you gotta test me!”
  A gust of wind almost took my battered hat out of my hands, and it blew through the Grand Wizard’s brown hair – very plain brown, but slicked back quite nicely.
  “Coal mines,” he said quietly, staring past me. “I remember the coal mines.”
  I waited for him to speak again, but he didn’t. I awkwardly shifted my weight. “Please, sir? I don’t have much time…”
  The Grand Wizard blinked, and he stepped back to take me in. I had tried to comb my blonde-ish hair this morning (Mum said I’d done a terrible job of it) and I was wearing my least-patched clothes, but I probably looked a sight to him.
  He pursed his lips. “A little scrawny for fourteen, aren’t you?”
  I shrugged. “But I’m real fast, sir. I could outrun lots of the older boys.”
  “Older boys” had beat me up last time I’d said that. But I was pretty sure that the statement was honest now – I’m plenty faster than I used to be – so maybe it would work in my favor this time. It had to.
  The Grand Wizard looked me up and down, then sighed. “And you’re certain you’re going to the coal mines if I don’t test you?”
  “Yes, Sir, I’m certain.” I started to strangle my hat again.
  He gave a little huff, then pushed himself off the doorway and snapped. “Alright, come in. I’ll test you, but don’t think you’ll be staying.”
  I wanted to grin – but the battle was only half over. “Yes, sir. Thank you, sir.” But would I have the Talent?
  I barely had time to step inside before he slammed the door shut and strode away. “Well? Follow me, or go right back out those doors, scrawny.”
  My ears turned red at the name, but I hurried after him. The Grand Wizard took a dozen twists and turns (the castle seemed a lot bigger on the inside than on the outside, somehow) until we came to a fancy courtyard.
  I blinked against the sunlight – it seemed wrong that the courtyard could be so cheerfully bright when the castle was so grey.
  “Well...? Well?”  
  I snapped back to attention. The Grand Wizard crossed his arms. “You don’t have a clue as to how this works, do you?”
  “No,” I stated honestly. “I was sick at the last time of Testing.”
  “Convenient,” the Grand Wizard muttered, striding up and grabbing me by the shoulder.
  He pushed me (and not very gently, either) into the center of the courtyard. There were four arches – one for each point of the compass – plus the one that led back into the castle. The only difference was that the castle entrance archway was dull, grey stone, while the rest of the archways were white and carved. I turned in a full circle, looking at each arch – oddly enough, they all seemed to lead out to the same, beautifully green lawn. It looked so different from the brown of our village.
  “What do I need to do now?” I asked after a moment.
  The Grand Wizard stood by the castle entrance arch, arms crossed again. “Now you wait,” he said, with mocking patience. “And see if any Wind comes in through one of those arches. That’s how you know if you have a Talent or not.” He glanced at the gold watch glittering on his wrist. “I’ll give you three minutes, and then you’re leaving.”
  I opened my mouth to protest, but he cut me off. “It’s more than fair - normal Testings only last for two.”
  I gave a jerky nod, and went back to staring at the arches. I accidentally tore a hole in my hat, and sweat had started to build on my brow.
  How would I know if a Wind came? What would it do? Was the breeze already blowing in the courtyard considered a Wind? Should I tell the Grand Wizard?
  And then, quite suddenly, the breeze changed. Instead of blowing around me, it was suddenly blowing inside of me. I gasped and shuddered at the strange, uncomfortable feeling. The Grand Wizard moved from his place by the wall, but I didn’t pay him much attention.
  Because there – there, by the North archway, stood a person. And not a normal, flesh-and-bones person, either. She was made entirely of swirling, silvery snowflakes and stood taller than two men. Her feet floated inches above the ground.
  I could barely make out her features, but I had a good guess that this was the North Wind.
  The Wind came towards me. I felt the breeze inside of me grow stronger and I started to back away.
  “Him,” she whispered, speaking to the Grand Wizard but looking at me. Her voice sounding like a breeze rustling frozen pond-reeds. “I can feel his Talent halfway across my realm.” She swirled to face the Grand Wizard. “Keep him.”
  And then, in an explosion of snow, she was gone. The wind inside me stilled, and I gasped out the breath I didn’t know I was holding in. There was snow in my hair and on my shoulders.
  “Well,” said the Grand Wizard slowly. “That changes things.”
  I turned to face him, still breathing hard. “How?”
  He shook his head in disbelief, looking at the North Archway. Then he took my mangled hat from my hands and mended it with a flick of his finger. I took it back with wide eyes.
  Magic.
  “Well, scrawny,” the Grand Wizard said. “It looks like you’ll be staying here after all.” 
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    *awards you with chocolate if you actually read that whole thing* xD

   So I hope that was enjoyable for you all! I wrote this story for Jenelle Schmidt's short story challenge that goes along with her February Is Fantasy Month celebrations (I would have attached the beautiful banner here, but my computer hates me today xD) - make sure to hop over to her blog and read the rest of the stories!

~ Savannah Grace 
 

Which Wind do you think would come if you were tested? Have you ever written a short story?

54 comments :

  1. THIS IS SO GOOD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! You're such a talented author! <3
    I have written really small story clips on Go Teen Writers Exercises, but that's about it. I've actually started writing several stories, but they don't usually go very far... xD

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    1. Oh good gracious - THANK YOU, GJE! <3

      The GTW writing exercises are so fun, I love participating in them. I don't think I've asked this before (though my goldfish brain could be totally failing on me right now xD) but do you have a blog?

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    2. You're welcome! <3
      They are! Just another reason to look forward to Friday!
      lol. Um, no, I don't have a blog. I have though before that it would be pretty cool to have one, but I don't know what I would write!! xD

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  2. duuuddeee. make this into a novel. like, now. k yep. you are gonna do it.

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    1. HAHA we'll see. I've got my plate full as it is xD. But I'm so glad you like it, Sare! <3

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  3. Hmm....I think that the North Wind would come if I were tested. I don't really know why though xD
    I just actually skimmed through it because I edited it but BRAVO!!!!!! *applause* THAT WAS AMAZING!!!!!
    I used to write short stories, but most of them turned to novel ideas xD. I have too much going on in my mind to write a ton of short stories and not have them turn into novels. ;)

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    1. THANK YOU, Anika! (and also many more thanks for helping me polish it! <3)

      Ugh, same - not many short stories stay in their 2k word confinements for me, either. But hey, if it turns out to be a really GOOD novel, then no lose there xD.

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  4. WRITING GODDESS. HOW. AND CAN I HAVE SOME GENIUS TOO?

    Well now I'm analyzing what all the Winds would look like and which one would fit me best. This is the the next new personality test. XD

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    1. YES OF COURSE *sprinkles you in stardust* xD. I'm so insanely happy that you liked this!

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  5. Ooh, I like it! I think you should write more of this!
    I've actually written several short stories like this. I've always thought I should post one on my blog, but I've never gotten around to it. . .

    BTW, this is super random, but I'd love to hear what you have to say about MC's in a character building post sometime. There's a story idea that has been bouncing around in my head for a while, and I just got a real grasp on the plotline (and some of the characters actually have names!). I still need to work on the main character though, so I'd love to hear your thoughts while I'm working on him.

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    1. Thank you, Hanna! I thought you might enjoy it ;). And YES, post one of your short stories! I always love reading your work. <3

      *gasps* You had another story idea? I'm totally going to have to pester you for hints about it later :D. I'll probably do a MC character building post after I do the secondary characters one ... *goes to plan this*.

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    2. Okay, okay, I'll see what I can do. Thanks, Savannah.

      Well, you know writers--there's always more story ideas. But I have to say that I'm hoping super hard that this one goes place, because it could be one of the better ones if I can pull it off.

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  6. Awesome, just pure awesome!!! XD
    -Gray Marie
    graymariewrites.blogspot.com

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  7. AHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Girl, this is gorgeous. I'm falling in love.......
    MORE PLEASE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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    1. You make me so happy, girl! <3
      WE'LL SEE - I'm going mad trying to get Killing Snow done in time as it is xD.

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  8. Aaaaahhh.
    AAAAHHHHHHHHH.
    AAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    SAVANNAH THIS IS PURE GENIUS. GENIUS I TELL YOU. I DIDN'T WANT IT TO END. Seriously, I was reading it in the car and just SO engaged, like disappeared-from-the-universe engaged, and was utterly heartbroken when it stopped. I mean, that ending was dlksjflkdjf;ljsdkjf. BUT I WANT AN ENTIRE NOVEL OF THISSSS.

    And your WRITING. GIRL. It's so...seamless. I don't know how to explain it! It's such a smooth, enjoyable read. Not bogged down by too much wording, but not choppy or awkward in ANY way possible. It's smooth and flawless and makes me forget I'm even reading. It just starts playing out like a movie in my head.

    Oh man, I just loved every bit of this. I'm already attached to the characters too. YOU ARE SO TALENTED I CAN'T.

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    1. *dies over your reactions* I don't even know what to do with all my HAPPINESS right now *flails*. Thank you so much, girl! <3 <3 <3

      OH MY GOOD GRACIOUS I'm grinning so big right now :D. I'm SO GLAD that you liked this random piece of my writing! I wasn't sure about posting it but OH MY am I glad that I did xD.

      Oh wow - YOU'RE SUCH AN ENCOURAGEMENT, CHRISTINE SMITH. I'm insanely glad that you liked it so much! And I could say the same for you because I read YOUR short story and was ENTIRELY BLOWN AWAY.

      THANK YOU for reading and commenting, Lauri! <3 <3

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  9. ASdlfkjsldj adorbzness! So fun and neat. :D

    Also: “They call me the Grand Wizard now? How odd." <--This made my day. XDDD

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    1. THANK YOU, Deborah! I'm so glad that you enjoyed this! :D

      That was one of my favorite parts to write xD. Thanks for reading! <3

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  10. EEP, OH MY GOODNESS THIS IS REALLY REEEEAAALLY GOOD!!!!!
    I wanted it to last forever!! Great job, sis!! ;) <33333
    Jaidyn Elise

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    1. Thank you so much, Jaidyn! It was IMMENSELY fun to write :D.

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    2. Your welcome, Savvy!! ;)
      I bet it was!!
      Have a blessed day,
      Jaidyn Elise <333333

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  11. I'd guess North wind as well for me xD

    THAT WAS SUCH A COOL SHORT STORY! It's inspiring me to get my act together and write one again, bc I haven't since I was eleven :P

    Way to go with this! :D

    audrey caylin

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    1. Oh gracious you SHOULD write a short story, Audrey! I would love to read some of your writing :D.

      Thank you so much! And THANK for reading! <3

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  12. I like how you suggest that the Grand Wizard may have worked in the minds as a boy. Right off the bat you have a bit of backstory as well as motive for him to help little Norman.

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    1. Oh wow, you're super attentive ;). Yes, I did add that in as a sort of "backstory" - just in case I want to take this story farther someday xD. Thank you for reading, Blue!

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  13. I love this short story, but want to know more like how it changes things. You did a great job.

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    1. Thank you, Anna! Maybe I'll add more onto it someday so that you guys aren't left hanging ;).

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  14. EEEEEP THIS WAS SO GOOD!! Everyone seems to be writing short stories at the moment AND I CAN'T GET OVER HOW EPIC THEY ALL ARE.

    Amazing, amazing job Savvy!!! *throws pizza and eats confetti*

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    1. THANK YOU SO MUCH, PRILL! And I LOVE reading all the short stories that have been popping up around the blogosphere - I always look forward to the days when you post more Lando Erif stuff xD.

      *twirls in the confetti* Thank you so much for reading! <3

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  15. AMAZING!!!!! This is so creative, Savannah! TURN IT INTO A NOVEL RIGHT NOW!!!! *scurries off to find the North Wind*

    Micaiah
    www.notebooksandnovels.com

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    1. THANK YOU, Micaiah! I'm so glad that you like it - maybe someday it WILL be a novel ... *pets all the plot bunnies* xD.

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  16. Your writing is soo beautiful! <3 I really should write more short stories. I've only written two, and the last one was when I was 16. :P

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    1. Thank you, Karyssa! I normally don't write short stories, but this one wouldn't let go of me :D. They're so fun!

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  17. This is SO good!!! You should add on to it! I LOVE it!!!

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    1. I'm really glad that you enjoyed it, Savvy! Thank you for reading ;).

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  18. I love your writing style! :)
    Simi ~ simizat.wordpress.com

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  19. *smiling while eating the chocolate I've been awarded with*
    This was GREAT! You're awesome at short stories. I am working on a book, so I've been sticking to that. Hmm...I'm not sure. I hope that the wind-girl-snowflake-person (I just reread that part. lol The North Wind) would be my wind.
    Ok, let's redo that: I hope that the North Wind would be the wind that came through the arches for me.
    You need to do more short stories more often!

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    1. I'm so glad that you liked this, LHE! Normally I can't write ANYTHING short, but I'm happy that this one worked out xD.

      Maybe I will! It was fun to share this with you guys :D.

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    2. Your blog is great! *stiffles laughter while trying to fight off anticipation*
      xD
      -LHE

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  20. Oooh, coooool.....I LOVE NORMAN LET ME JUST SQUISH THE WITTLE THING. xD
    -Ariel

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    1. OH YAY I'M GLAD YOU LIKE LITTLE NORMAN xD. Thanks, Ariel!

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  21. I NEED MOOOOAAAAR. *devours chocolate while waiting* *not very patiently*
    You slay, girl. SLAYYYY.

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    1. OHMYWORD - thank you , Abbiee! Your comment made me grin so big xD. I'm so glad that you liked this! <3

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  22. OH MY GOODNESS SAVANNAH THIS IS AMAZING.
    You're so talented!! You should totally post more short stories. :D

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    1. Thank you so much, Madeline! <3 Funny that it took me a WHOLE MONTH to think of something this short, but I think it turned out pretty well ;). Thanks for reading!

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  23. Oh wow, this is so cool, Savannah! And I have no idea which wind would come if I was tested...

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    1. Thank you, Emily! I'm glad that you enjoyed it! <3

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  24. This is fantastic!!! I need you to drop everything and write more. Like, NOW. Please????? :-D

    There is such a fun, whimsical, Diana Wynne Jones feel to this story, and I can just see it making a great book. I'd love to learn more about this world, the main character, the Grand Wizard... and why "talent" for magic is associated with the four winds. SO INTRIGUING!

    Thanks for participating in the Winter Fantasy Short Story Challenge!!! I loved reading your short story.

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    1. Oh my - thank you SO MUCH, Jenelle! Your comment totally made my day <3. I'm hoping to add more to this at some point or another ;). GRACIOUS your comment made me grin so big :D.

      Thank you for hosting the challenge! I would never have thought to write this otherwise.

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