It was hard to ride a horse blindfolded.
Calen McFarland clutched a fistful of his mare’s mane and shifted with her movement as she stumbled, hooves pounding a muffled cadence against the dry soil. Briars snatched his legs and the spicy scent of fresh fallen leaves burned his nose with every breath. Even blind he could feel the night as it gathered around him.
He wasn’t afraid. Not much, anyway. Not yet.
It was only another part of his initiation at the College of Winfall. The last part. The important part. The final test—one he must pass if he hoped to stay beyond his novice year.
His stomach tightened at the thought.
It seemed to Calen as though he’d been riding forever. He’d watched in the courtyard while seniors bound his classmates’ hands, covered their eyes with strips of cloth and took their reins. Then his turn had come. With the twist of a few quick knots he’d been reduced to listening, scenting the air and grasping for the sensation of movement around him. A guessing game.
So far nothing had gone wrong, but he felt helpless, as though his fate no longer rested in his own hands.
Relax, Calen, you’re going to be fine.
The words echoed in his memory. According to his roommate and Guide, Hall St. Clair, this night was a tradition. It was fun, exciting—something Calen would enjoy.
Easy for Hall to say. He’d passed the test two years before.