"Initiates must be strong, but all too often people forget that intelligence is another form of strength."
— Zuguruk Sorcerer Saihaz, first Zuguruk Coucilmember of the Enclave, speaking of the first Trials ever held on Kendalar V.
The coming-of-age trials of the Enclave of the Pureblooded Sith Sorcerers, sometimes shortened to Trials, were a series of tests set by the Ruling Council for all younglings who would attain their eighteenth standard year during a given year. They placed an especial focus on teamwork, combat ability, Force powers, and problem-solving.
It should be noted that, unlike the Sith trials of past empires which took place on Korriban, the Trials instituted in the Enclave were not designed to kill participants. Instead, they were intended to aid younglings in their training and facilitate the transition to adulthood and the more challenging duties of an initiate. They were also intended to serve as an introduction of sorts between soon-to-be initiates and many of their superiors whom they had not previously met. In this way, the Enclave's Trials were not too far different from the Jedi Initiate Trials.
The Trials varied a bit from year to year depending on the needs of the Enclave and the expected abilities of the younglings. They also varied somewhat between castes. There were three core trials which all castes and all years had to undergo, however: the kendar crystal attunement, the duel, and the crafting of a warblade.
Kendar crystal attunement
The kendar crystal attunement test actually tested several things: first, the younglings were all sent to the dedicated Trials kendar crystal mine, where they had to find kendar crystals which resonated with their Force signatures, then figure out how to detach them and bring them back to the High Sorcerer for the Ritual of Imbuement and the Ritual of Initiate Attunement. Since the Trials mine was used only for the Trials and it was not frequented at any other time of year, it was not unusual for wild and potentially aggressive beasts to lay claim to the paths to the mine, the area around the mine, or even the mine itself. Since the hopefuls had not forged their warblades yet, they would be forced to work together to expel or repel the beasts as needed along the way there and back. Several Hunters of the Enclave skilled in concealment would watch from hiding places near the mine in case the younglings encountered especially dangerous creatures which they could not handle.
On one occasion, a denizen of the mine was tracked down by an apprentice hunter after it had interrupted a sorcerer in the midst of executing rune magic, resulting in the sorcerer's death and the incineration of his entire workshop. The apprentice hunter's success in tracking and slaying the beast was considered sufficient proof of his readiness for promotion to full Hunter.
The Ruling Council took great care to match up hopefuls with opponents at or near their skill level. The entire point of the duel was not to win, but to show determination, resourcefulness, and some appreciable degree of combat skill. Not all younglings passed the first time: some had to return to their caste Battlemaster for further training before the next year's Trials came around.
Zhanlar, Iplaekuoth, and Tigathisse were three extremely rare exceptions to this rule, coming from three different years: the Ruling Council could not find any other hopeful capable of standing against any of these three for longer than a few seconds, so they were required instead to engage a rival's father, a senior apprentice, and a promising junior apprentice, respectively. Of those three, Zhanlar is the only one to have lost the duel, though he did manage to interrupt the sorcerer twice before being subdued - a feat which raised controversy among multiple sorcerers and hunters who were all interested in taking on such a powerful soon-to-be initiate as an apprentice.
Forging a warblade
All younglings were taught how to craft a warblade before taking this test. The point of the test was to show that they could craft a serviceable weapon, and to show also that they could perform the Ritual of Initiate Attunement on their own to partially attune their kendar crystals to their newly-crafted weapons as well as to themselves. Many warblades crafted during this test followed a more-or-less standard pattern, though a few invented their own or made changes, such as one Zuguruk-caste hopeful who added a kendar crystal-powered vibro-edge to her warblade, drastically increasing its cutting potential. The only other youngling known to have done this during the trials was Valermit Mindseer, who got the idea from her.
This test was always closely observed by the High Sorcerer and the Zuguruk Councilmembers as it was the most likely test to bring out a latent pre-disposition towards Sith Alchemy in a future initiate. Valermit Mindseer's successful execution of the Ritual of Full Attunement during this test astonished the High Sorcerer, who himself had not been able to perfectly attune his first warblade without help. He chose to show his approbation by taking Valermit's warblade to be tempered with Sith Alchemy before returning the almost indestructible weapon to the Kissai-caste youngling.
Sometimes, an additional test for a potentially latent talent for navigation with the aid of the Force was given to the Kissai-caste younglings. Normally, this was included in the trip to the mine and back, but sometimes it was hard to tell who could find their way easily, especially when the younglings traveled in a relatively densely-packed group for protection against wild beasts rather than individually.
The Kissai-caste leaders also watched for leadership potential among the younglings, making a note of any who took charge in any of the many possible difficult or outright dangerous situations which they might encounter. Thus, Zhanlar's natural tendency to lead was discovered when he dropped his enmity with a rival to rally the younglings after a pack of ravenous beasts descended on them, thus redeeming himself for his attack on his rival in the kendar crystal mine. In a similar way, when Tigathisse underwent her Trials and the younglings had to take shelter during a severe storm, she found shelter and dealt with conflicts which arose over who got to sit where despite being much younger than the Sith younglings and, moreover, non-Sith. Later, when they could not find their way back, Tigathisse took charge again and, keeping an image of the dueling grounds in her mind, led the younglings back without the aid of the washed-out path, taking a route that caught the observing Hunters completely offguard and which broke their cover. Thus, Tigathisse showed talents for both navigation and leadership in the same core trial, and fully justifying Admiral Zhanlar's decision to put her through the Trials.
Massassi-caste younglings who showed especial promise in the dueling trial were often set another test to help determine which warblade combat style was most suited to them, and what class they were most likely to take to later on. This trial was actually a battery of tests designed to test agility, strength, dexterity, creativity, endurance, and self-control.
The Massassi-caste youngling Hojnûl, who had lost his duel to Kissai-caste youngling Valermit Mindseer due to the latter mastering Hojnûl's anger, was given this set of tests to give a better idea of what his capabilities actually were. Hojnûl performed exceptionally well in the strength and endurance tests, about average for dexterity, creativity, and self-control, and below average for agility. In the final section of the tests, Hojnûl faced several training droids and succeeded in deflecting many of their shots as he closed in to dismantle them. The general consensus among the caste leaders was that he would likely do best with either Form V or Form III - provided he worked on his self-control. His father saw this as evidence that Hojnûl might have promise as a future Kendalaran Juggernaught, though the Massassi Battlemaster was not quite so certain.
One popular test among the Zuguruk-caste engineers was setting up a challenging loading scenario in which a youngling was required to compare a jumbled mess of containers and debris with a list, then sort out what should be loaded aboard a shuttle and what should not. Younglings who used the Force to aid them in this were noted, and those who used the Force (rather than their hands) to load the shuttle tended to find themselves on an accelerated track towards apprenticeship. According to rumor, one Zuguruk-caste youngling, rather than directly using the Force to load the shuttle, pulled together various bits and pieces of debris to form makeshift droids, then she used the Force to power and direct the droids through the loading process. The senior members of her caste were so highly impressed that they made sure she was apprenticed to a Zuguruk-caste sorcerer before the next year's Trials came around.
The Zuguruk-caste test was also given to non-Force sensitives (primarily slaves) who had shown promise in the areas of design, problem-solving, or first aid. The main differences between the non-Force sensitive test and the Force sensitive test were, firstly, that the non-Force sensitives were not expected to use the Force to aid them, and secondly, they were permitted a limited set of tools.
Behind the scenes
The coming-of-age trials of the Enclave were first referenced in Vatharn's application to the Dark Lords of the Sith under the character name Valermit Mindseer as an important part of Valermit's initial backstory. At that time, the rival whom he defeated had not yet been named, though the rest of the Duel trial had been pretty much figured out. The other core trials were likewise referenced, though it was not explicitly stated that they were part of the Trials until some months later.
The incident of the Zuguruk-caste youngling creating droids using the Force was drawn in roughly equal parts from four sources of inspiration: a past RP character of Vatharn's who specialized in mechu-deru; a past RP partner's character who was portrayed as being unusually skilled with droids for her rank; the story of a Jedi Master who survived Order 66 only to go insane and eventually die at Galen Malek's hands after an extended fight involving statues of the Jedi Council made out of junk and animated using the Force; and the mention in the history of the Enclave that Zuguruk Sorcerer Saihaz had an interest in droids which proved instrumental in the foundation of the Enclave.