I. can’t. EVEN.
(laughs until weeping with amusement and only the very mildest frustration) (because they would be so welcome in this universe) (but it would be SOOOO NAUGHTY to smuggle them in) (and I gave that up for Lent) (srsly I did)
(ETA: reminded of these and wandering off to reread them, because they’re charming: John is a wizard and it just gives Sherlock hives…)
(ETA 2: Oh God, Sherlock’s Ordeal… don’t get me started. …Though suddenly that scene where he walks into the flat with the harpoon, all covered in blood, and growls “Well that was tedious!”, takes on a whole new layer of possible meaning.) :)
(ETA 3: [dammit, I’m supposed to be in the shower…] All right, this is enabling, but it can’t be helped: it’s true, thought out some while back. [I think the topic is glancingly dealt with elsewhere in canon: I believe in one of the Feline Wizardry books.]
Late-onset Ordeal is very, very unusual… but by no means unheard of. [NB that this phenomenon is distinct from prolonged Ordeals such as experienced by Darryl and Rhiow.] Sometimes, once in a great while, a problem arises for which no young proto-wizard, or older, established/blooded one, is a sufficiently effective solution. Once in the abovementioned very-great-while a situation develops for which some one, unique, adult and (hitherto) nonwizardly talent is the only solution that has a realistic chance of working. Such problems are not by any means necessarily — to the unaided eye — particularly epic. But they are routinely most vital, and are sometimes associated with so-called cardinal or “hinge” events as described in (I think?) The Wizard’s Dilemma.
At such times, with such a problem on the horizon, the Powers that Be will offer the Oath to the person in question, and then — if the person accepts — squeeze Their eyes shut and cross all Their available fingers. A late-onset probationary wizard on Ordeal does not have a younger probationer’s raw power or flexibility. But he or she does bring to the Ordeal whatever smarts (or other talents) she or he has acquired on his/her way to adulthood. If the late-onset probationer is very, very lucky, this may be enough to carry the potential wizard through.
But it will never be an easy ride for either the subject or the bystanders. Late-onset Ordeals are routinely unpredictable and explosive. When they succeed, they do so magnificently. When they fail, they do so disastrously: there is routinely considerable collateral damage, this being possibly the main reason they’re offered so rarely. The risks are at all times significant. But the Powers are willing to roll the dice when They must…
…Now everybody run off and do whatever you were going to do THAT I CAN’T LOOK AT ANYWAY, GODDAMMIT. (sigh) :)