Chapter 7:

You find yourself flat on the ground, grass and rocks poking at your face.

"There you are" You hear Robert shout as he lifts you up from the ground. It takes you a bit to adjust to the light of the outside after being in a dimly lit cavern.

"What are you guys doing here?" You dust the dirt off of your pants. "I never ended up flipping the coin."

"Yeah, but you did disappear from the face of the earth for a good five hours." Alice comes into view, a slightly displeased look on her face.

"We were getting worried, so we went to the last place the coin was before it went poof." Robert emphasizes this point by mimicking an explosion with his hands.

"Five hours? It only felt like I was gone for an hour tops."

"I've heard interdimensional travel can cause temporal disturbances," Alice remarks, rubbing her chin. "Unfortunately, I've never been able to collect data on it."

"Well next time I go to the freakin' ‘Realm of the Council of Trials,' I'll make sure to invite you."

"Please do," Alice says with a smirk.

"Hey-hey, did the Council give you any answers?" Robert interjects. Your heart sinks.

Oh yeah… that…

"Why don't we set up camp and get you some food first?" Alice suggests with an uncharacteristic softness. She probably noticed the dejected look on your face at the mention of the Council.

Over dinner (which you scarfed down—you suppose that interdimensional travel also messes with your metabolism) you tell Alice and Robert about the cavernous room, the shadows on the wall, and of course, the Mark of Merlin.

"The Mark of Merlin? I thought that was just a myth" Robert shouts, ecstatic. Alice remains silent, but you see an extraordinary grin on her face and her eyes bright with curiosity. It's almost like you told her Santa is real.

"Yeah. It seems… really cool and all, but if I accept it, I could just instantly implode if I'm not good enough."

"Then don't accept it," Robert says while taking a bite of food.

"If I don't accept, I will be Unsorted forever and forced to live some unmagical life I've been working so hard for this"

"Hm… then… accept it?" You groan at Robert's simple options.

"I just… don't know what to do…"

"I think you could be the new Bearer of the Mark," Alice finally speaks, staring at the ground contemplatively. "I mean… you cared to get to know us and understand our… quirks. You were perfectly sorted into Marcana and Illuden. You brought Robert and me together long enough to talk and get past our blind hatred. You would be a great person to unite our groups."

"Wow Alice…" You've never heard someone speak about you like that. The kindness and her belief in you is almost overwhelming.

"Yeah, wow." Robert is almost in awe of Alice's insight.

"But ultimately, this is your own choice," Alice abruptly stands up. "Come on, Robert. We should get back to our headquarters. If we are going to have a new Bearer of the Mark of Merlin, we will have to prepare a lot of people." The last sentence was directed at you, accompanied with a smile by Alice. Robert nods and jumps up.

"Goodnight," she concludes.

"We know you'll make the right choice," Robert adds on before vanishing himself and Alice into the ether.

You spend the next day by yourself…

…doing pretty much nothing.

With all of the running around and climbing mountains and Trial solving and learning you are some mythic chosen one, you miss doing nothing. You didn't realize how much you were even doing until you took time to rest.

You try to memorize your current surroundings: the sounds, the smells, the sights. While you were able to see all different environments during your travels for the Sorting Trials, you didn't always take time to appreciate where you were. Part of you wishes that you could have spent more time exploring, instead of jumping quickly from Trial to Trial.

But, hey, hindsight is 20/20…

Night falls around you and you know that the Council of Trials will be coming for you soon. Your stomach bubbles with anxiety, but you think you finally did enough soul searching to come to an answer.

A familiar flash of green appears and the white cloaked figure emerges from the portal. They look at you laying on the ground staring at the stars.

"Have you made your decision?" The harmonious voice asks. You slowly stand up.

"I have."


You swallow before answering, hoping to quell the butterflies in your stomach. "I accept."

"We knew you would. Follow me." The figure disappears back through the portal. You dutifully follow them, but not before taking one last look at the world around you.

Just in case.

This time you emerge from the portal on the top of an impossibly tall stone spire. You are unable to even tell how tall this spire is; for as far as you can see, you are atop a sea of clouds, the spire a lone monument piercing the veil.

"What the…" You feel a sudden fear of heights start to creep up on you. One wrong move and it wouldn't matter whether you are worthy of the Mark or not.

"Come," the multi-voiced entity commands, gesturing from behind an orb swirling with rainbow colors. "Place your hands upon the totem and accept the Mark of Merlin."

With tiny steps, you approach the orb—in a way it reminds you of a plasma globe on overdrive—and place both of your hands atop it.

A rush of energy surges through your body. You feel as if you are dying and being reborn at the same time, like a phoenix. You see the colors from the orb travel like fire up your arm. A more logical part of your mind screams that you should take your arms off the orb, but at the same time a strange calm washes over you. You continue to endure.

A sharp sensation crawls over part of your skin. Looking at the spot, you find a familiar sigil start to appear like a tattoo on your skin.

The Mark of Merlin.

All at once, everything stops. The pain, the power, the energy. Everything wipes away and you feel yourself slip away back to your own reality, without the use of a portal.

You feel like you've just woken up from a deep sleep. You realize where you are— the sounds, the smells, the sights that you've been trying to memorize coming into focus.

I'm alive. I'm worthy.

You stare down to see the new addition to your body—the symbol of your choice and your new purpose.

You take out the coin that has been long sitting in your pocket.

And you flip it.

"Let's get started."