The Trials are a series of tests that must be completed in order for a trainee to become a Slayer Dragon. The original Ten did not undertake any sort of tests, though Trials were instituted for the very next generation of Slayer Dragons.
Eieber himself laid down many of the original trials, though they would change and evolve for several centuries, until finally solidified near the end of the Golden Age of the Slayer Dragons, roughly a century before the close of the First Age.
The Trials are highly ritualistic and very symbolic. They are largely based on events of The Ten.
Trials fall in to three categories:
Physical Trials are the most forgiving as any one Trial may be attempted multiple times. Most are, however, competitive; and pit trainees against each other.
The Trial of Endurance is perhaps the most notable for its low level of completion. The first stage of the Trial involves five trainees competing in a three-mile race wearing heavy armor. The winner of the race then has to be the first to knock down fifty-six wooden targets (among over a hundred which must be undisturbed). If one of the competitors can hit a target before the winner of the race, everyone loses. However, the rest of the Trial must still be completed, which involves tests and feats of increasing rigor.
The Final Trial
Without question, the most difficult Trial is the final race to Black Mountain. This Trial is used to select a new Slayer Dragon. Trainees who have completed all of the other necessary trials (then called "Dragons in Waiting") have the opportunity, once a year, to compete in a race from Stormreaver Valley to the slopes of Black Mountain.
The region between the two is devoid of human settlements, and part of the High Mountain Dragon Flight's territory; and this is the only situation in which humans are allowed into the area. In the early Golden Age, the Trial was conducted without High Mountain's permission, and part of the test involved dodging hunting dragons.
There are no accurate maps of the area, so trainees must rely on dead reckoning and visual clues. The terrain is some of the roughest on the continent.
The Mental Trials consist primarily of written tests on history, science, political theory, and mathematics. While some tests are simple question/answer, most require critical thinking and many are disguised character tests. A fair amount of emphasis is given to the substance of the answer, not whether it is right or wrong.
Of particular note is that each of these tests may only be taken once, and failure to complete any of these Trials is an instant disqualification; so many trainees will study for years in order to eliminate all doubt.
These are more of requirements than actual tests; though they can be completed while undergoing the other Trials. State-based Trials are the only ones not universal among Slayer Dragons, as they vary depending on the trainee's homeland. These include:
- Completion of compulsory education. For most of the known worlds this is high-school. Note that this Trial requires the trainee to have completed the education within an institution and does not qualify if they've only completed some sort of equivalency test. The Trial may be bypassed with special dispensation or if the trainee's homeland does not have compulsory education (such as Rowen).
- Being "of age" according to the traditions and laws of one's homeland. Again this is according to the laws regarding age of majority and may not be circumvented by emancipation. Special dispensation may be received if the trainee is a refugee and completion of this task would require returning to their homeland.
The Trials generally take about three to five years to complete, though there is no time limit (Enus the Abhorrent famously took 30 years to complete his Trials). Part of the time is training and some of the tests involve annual events or can only be carried out during specific seasons (For example: winter survival testing can only be done in winter).
Since the Trials also involve written and oral tests on history, geography, and mathematics, and extra two years is usually added to the training for trainees who come from 'lower tech' dimensions and thus have a lower expected standard of education. Those who were raised in more modern cultures and completed compulsory education in line with Alliance standards can either skip the training and take the tests, or even be granted special dispensation to skip the tests. The latter is quite rare, and usually reserved for older recruits who have previous training or had attained higher education.
Trainees under special dispensation can generally complete the Trials in about two years. Those without it would need at least three, with an average of five. Trainees who complete the Trials while there is not yet a position open among the Ten become 'Dragons in Waiting', and often serve as special attaches (Squire Dragons) or assistants to full Slayer Dragons.
Two-year completions with dispensation are not uncommon, but dispensation can only come from a Slayer Dragon, usually the Pendragon himself.
Only trainees who actually complete The Trials and become Slayer Dragons are counted here:
- The record for longest completion goes to Enus Litgo, who became known as Enus the Abhorrent. He spent over thirty years on the Trials.
- The record for shortest full completion belongs to Lina Rowen, at 19 months. This was only possible due to a clerical error which listed her as having completed the written examinations. The error was not discovered until sometime after her anointing, by which time she had already formally attained the title, so the record stood. She was retroactively given special dispensation, but at the time of her final trial she was considered to have the fastest completion in history.
- A close second, Hunter Jusenkyou completed the Trials in 17 months, but did so only with special dispensation. He still holds the record for fastest completion with dispensation.