A Trial of Judgment: Here Are the Rules

Here I am, coming late, but that’s because I was busy again–eight hundred words busy.  And it’s another scene down, a short one, maybe one of the shortest I’ve written for these novels, but a lot is said in this scene, and believe it or not I’ve worked on it for hours hoping I got it right.

See?  I haven't even gotten ready this morning.

See? I haven’t even gotten ready this morning.

Given all that, here’s the whole scene with little comment.  Enjoy.


(All excerpts from The Foundation Chronicles, Book Two: B For Bewitching, copyright 2015 by Cassidy Frazee)

With Annie accepting Lisa’s champion, Ramona was ready to continue. “Come to the center of the ring.” She met the two students there. “Before we begin, let me explain the rules. Rikkard, as a member of your Combat Team, you know these: I’m reiterating these for Annie’s sake—” She looked at the students around the mat. “—and for the sake of the others.

“The trial takes place inside the confines of the white circle. Magic is used both offensively and defensively; you are allowed to use anything in which you are skilled, with exceptions that will be mentioned momentarily. Non-magical fighting is also allowed, as are weapons which you can craft magically. This is a match of skill, so use whatever you feel is necessary to prevail.

“You are not allowed to attack an opponent who is prone on the mat, or is down on one knee; doing so could bring about the end of the trial. Having both feet outside the circle brings the match to an end: you are allowed one foot outside, but doing so often and purposely can result in a penalty. The trial continues until an opponent is forced, or willfully steps, outside the circle, indicates they wish to stop, are rendered unconscious, or I bring the trial to a halt because of incurred penalties. Once the trial is halted there is no further combat.

“Penalties can be and are issued during the trial. We use a yellow-red-double red system penalty system. Yellows are for minor infractions; for example, crafting a spell before the trial begins results in a yellow penalty. Red penalties are issued for far more serve infractions; attacking an opponent while they are down results in a red penalty. A double red penalty is the most sever penalty, and automatically brings the trial to an end. Using an unauthorized spell, or killing an opponent during the trial, results in a double red penalty.

“Penalties are progressive as well. Three yellows automatically become one red penalty, and two red penalties automatically become a double red. Given this information, six yellow penalties will be stepped up to two reds, which then become a double red penalty, which then halts the trial.

“Sorcery is allowed, including some Morte spells, but you must be able to control said spells, or you’ll be given a red penalty. Because of the difficulty of using these Morte spells effectively, Exsanguination, Harden, Liquefy, and Blood Hammer are not permitted, and the use of any of these results in an immediate double red penalty.” Ramona waited for Annie to react to her last statement, but she showed no concern or other emotion. “Do either of you have questions?”

Rikkard shook his head. “No, Professor.”

Annie turned an impassioned stare towards her instructor. “None, Professor.”

Ramona raised her hands palms up. “Face each other and bow—” She waited for them to complete the action before pointing to white rectangles at opposite ends of the circle. “Go to your respective start positions.”

At Annie and Rikkard moved into their position, Ramona went to the edge of the circle, keeping both students at a forty-five degree angle to herself. She turned to face them, seeing them standing within the confines of the white rectangles. “Crafting of spells will not take place until after the trial begins on my command. I will remind you that I am the final arbiter of all rules during this trial, and if a clarification of the rules is required, extend both arms over you head and say, ‘Pause’; I will halt the trial at that point and answer questions. Be advised that using a spell against your opponent during a pause will result in a red penalty being issues to the offending party.

“Remember to always respect your fellow combatant during the trial; the greatest honor we show our opponents is when we treat them as people, and not an object in need of defeat. The moment you remove respect for your opponent, you lose respect for yourself. You never want that to happen.”

Ramona didn’t want to draw the moment out any further. They are eager and ready; I sense they want to begin, especially Annie. She raised her voice so everyone in the room could hear. “All spectators will remain behind the red lines—” She raised her arms once more and the protective enchantments shimmered for a few seconds before becoming invisible. “—to keep you protected from whatever happens within this ring. Watch, and learn from this lesson.”

She looked to her right and left. “I wish you well in this trial.” She slowly raised her arms until they were chest high, threw up her defensive spells, and checked the auras of her combatants to make certain they didn’t have spells powered up and ready. “And . . . begin.”


The nice thing about a first draft is I can flesh it out when I come back to editing, but I think I got everything covered.  There aren’t a lot of rules, but at least it’s not Thunderdome:  two witches go in, one witch comes out.

If I’m lucky, I’ll get to that this afternoon,