The trail wound up like a snake alongside the edge of the Crescent Lake. All around, the hand of man had not yet defaced the unbroken verdure of this scene. The four heroes took their stand amongst the weeds and fallen logs with dry rot to view the majestic vista. The Ladimore mountains surrounded every visible point of the horizon, each capped with parchment white snow. Tefl and Poxig paused and exchanged glances. They could not believe that they had almost reached the confines of Silvera. All around the silence of the lake mirrored the sky. The heavens could be sailed across with a canoe, but they would have to take the trail to the land bridge to the gate of the Silver City.
“It is solemn here!” exclaimed Poxig, cleaning his nails with his penknife.
“I should say the same” said Nesta. “But Darxon has sent unforeseen dangers into our path. We must be cautious.”
“I agree,” said Tefl, “We must advance while it is yet light. The darkness will bring the winter wraiths.”
Tefl used his short sword and speared a fish from the lake for their repast. They did not have time to eat it now, but hopefully would reach the gate of the city before nightfall. They would all gather what silver they had to pay the toll-taker. The only concern of the people of Silvera was their money, which they zealously hoarded. No hero would ever go so far as to enter its gates, save for the Naughright guild that dwelt within its confines. There, they would find the answer of how to light Poxig’s ORB.
“I can’t believe that we are so near,” Poxig thought.
“I know you have been coming” said a voice in response to that thought.
Poxig flinched. Could it be that the sages of the Naughright guild could read his thoughts? He would have to be very careful from this point forward not to let his thoughts betray his ultimate mission. If a sage of light magic could read his thoughts, it is possible that Darxon’s minions could do the same. They would have to tread softly on this magical ground to avoid waking the winter wraiths that served the dark lord’s wicked purpose.
Finally, they made their way through the glade of trees to the entrance to the city. Silvera, though surrounded by a forested thicket, was fortified with a twenty foot wall. It would be inconceivable to try to scale a wall of that size, so they would have to make their way through the gate. They gathered their meager silver resources: twenty nine pieces of silver. Ten gold pieces which could be exchanged for silver within.
The entrance portcullis was an enchanted gate that shined in a panoply of rainbow colors that flashed around the bars of the door. Everywhere from the spikes at the top to the base of the gate was resplendent with changing colors. The gate was similar to Joseph’s coat of many colors in a story written long ago. It was certain that none of the party had seen such a portal so striking. But Nesta knew the reason for its attractiveness.
“It has a lightning charge,” said Nesta. “Anyone who touches it will be zapped.”
They met the doorkeeper, who strangely was not armed. He had a large conical red cap, and a long red robe. Nesta perceived that this was the traditional garb of the sage, the magical group of wizened elders that were gatekeepers for light magic. Nesta perceived that she was in the presence of greatness. Perhaps here she would be able to learn the arts of the white wizard.
The sage kindly introduced himself as “Marty.” He was a member of the Naughright guild, but the guild had designated him the ‘gate keeper.’ He had big bushy grayish eyebrows and a slender mount with a wisp of beard on his chin. He had a habit of putting vowel sounds before all of his consonants, which made it quite difficult to understand him. He advised this foursome not to try to test the magical power of the gate, for it would only open at the voice of a member of the guild.
“Ah a-wouldn’t a-try hit!” said Marty.
“But surely you know that the entrance fee is steep,” said Poxig.
“Hit’s the only a-way in,” said Marty again.
“And the price?” Tefl inquired.
“30 silver coins,” said Marty.
The crew searched their knapsacks for all the money that they could spare. In fact, 29 could be found. The gold pieces would have to be saved for food and lodging within the city. It was impossible for a novice mage like Nesta to move the gate, and so they would have to submit to the authority of the gatekeepers. After all, they had barely gotten past Myrdal, and now to come this far and not be able to see the circle of sages, it would be a total loss.
“Ah, yes, I a-see that you are a-little a-short,” said Marty.
“We have all but one silver piece,” said Poxig.
“Normally, I would a-make exception,” Marty replied.
“Sir, we are light warriors on an important mission. There are more important things than the king’s coffers. We must present the ORB to the Naughright guild,” said Poxig.
“Did you a-say the ORB?” asked Marty.
“I am the bearer of the sacred ORB,” replied Poxig.
“Well, this is a matter of importance. I will lend you the one a-silver piece for now,” said Marty.
Marty waved his magical staff and the gate began to slowly open. The colored lines continued to flash incessantly.
“Whatever you do, don’t a-touch the gate!” said Marty.
“He’s right, said Nesta. “It’s enchanted by lightning.”
“But wait! What is that?” asked Marty.
Truliso the dragon was creeping behind them. They had lost him in the Ladimore mountains but now he had come to roost. He flapped his wings and roared.
“That’s our dragon friend. He has an important message for the circle of sages,” said Jane Lampion.
“I can’t let this beast in here,” said Marty. “He will have to stay outside.”
“We need the dragon to give the message to the sages,” said Poxig. “Our translator will give them the message from king Bamut.”
Since the gatekeeper would not budge, the four decided to leave Jane Lampion behind with Tefl Broadsword as her escort in order to guard Truliso and keep him safe. Of course, they would need the approval of the council to listen to Truliso’s message. But the goal would be to light the ORB, and then return to hear the dragon’s message. Hopefully, they would be able to get the ear of the Naughright guild.
Poxig and Nesta braced themselves, and then entered through the portal. A flash of light surrounded them as they went through the blue gate.