I only read the second version and I really enjoyed it and found it an engaging opening. I agreed with Philippa when the stake was revealed about what would happened if she failed, Tilda’s reaction felt weak compared to the pressure she has just been put under. Also if this is a school of sorts I would imagine she would have been informed beforehand what you would the tests and what students are expected to achieve in order to pass.
I like the way you ended that scene and that the orb is only pea size and the very natural reaction of being afraid to look.
I hope this helps!