"Here begin the adventures of Erwyn, Journeyman Sorcerer ..."
After six years at the Sorcerer's Apprentice school, Erwyn must take his final exam. For four years, he must wander through the world, alone and and unarmed, equipped with the thirteen basic spells and not much else—and then survive long enough to return to the school for graduation.
What were his teachers thinking? Or perhaps it's just their way of thinning down the competition.
Of course, the alone part doesn't last very long for Erwyn, since everything and everyone in the neighborhood seems to gravitate in his direction—orcs, evil magicians, cranky old men, plus an odd number of women with an arsenal of swords, knives, and curlers at their disposal.
And unarmed is, more or less, a matter of one's point of view. Especially when one has the ability to create magic sandcastles out of thin air. But the sand has to come from somewhere, doesn't it? And can he learn to use it as an offensive weapon so he can stay alive long enough to get home?
Erwyn needs to find out fast. A good spell-checker charm wouldn't hurt, either.
The Test of the Dragon
"Don't ask me," the dragon said. "I just work here."
"So in order to see Princess Fenoria, one of us has to take the, what did you call it? "The Test of the Dragon?' "
"Correctamundo. But not just any one of you. It has to be the leader. I guess that's you."
"I don't suppose we could just leave the way we came and forget the whole thing."
"Nope. Chapter two, paragraph eight: "Anyone entering the guard dragon's territory must submit to a qualification check before either continuing onward or withdrawing from the field.' If you try to escape, I'm supposed to toast your buns, as it were."
"Um ... what exactly is the Test of the Dragon?"
"Nothing elaborate, really. You have to join me for a game of three-handed poker."
"That doesn't sound too difficult."
Virgil watched Erwyn very closely as he added, "I get to play two of the hands. You have to beat both of them." Somehow the dragon managed to look sympathetic.
"Uh, I probably don't want to know, but ... what happens if I lose?"
"I'm supposed to eat you," Virgil said. He didn't look happy about it, either.