Once Sheila Nesta and Poxig Excelsior were within the confines of Silvera, they noticed that the aura around them had begun to change. All the sidewalks were completely clean, every tree meticulously placed. Brilliant rainbow-like garden flowers colored every small space in between ornate arabesque architecture. The fragrances of perfumes were everywhere. No trash or refuse on the streets, not a single thing out of place. It was by far the richest city that they had ever seen. The citizens of Silvera were dressed in expensive clothes of the finest purple.
“Aren’t there any poor in Silvera?” asked Nesta.
“It looks like they have eliminated that problem,” Poxig replied.
They went to exchange their gold pieces for silver at the bank. The silver would have to last them for their stay here. There was one thing for sure: the only thing that mattered in this city was silver. If you had it, you were welcome. But poor and indigent could not gain refuge in a city like this, protected by a magic gate. All that remained of societal ills was a city protected from harm, nestled near the Crescent Lake.
They moved warily through the streets of Silvera, conscious that every eye was fixed on them. Poxig shuffled his feet quietly so as not to make noise. If they were perceived as vagrants, they might be forcibly removed from the city. The clocktower ticked loudly as they moved towards the city square. Their first goal would be to exchange their gold for silver, and then they would need to gain an audience at the Naughright guild. But where exactly this place was, no one could say.
“We are trying to find the Naughright guild,” Poxig exclaimed. “Can you help us?”
“I have never heard of such a place,” said one man. “But there is rumor that deep in the forest adjacent to the village is the meeting place of the circle of sages.”
“We must be closing in on it,” Nesta said. “The guild is very secretive about its business. We may need a divining rod to find its whereabouts.”
“We have a limited budget here. We cannot camp but must find lodging. Thirty silver pieces will not go so far here,” said Poxig.
On the tip they received, they journeyed into the forested area behind the city, looking for the circle of sages. Day turned into night, as they searched the dingy wood, which was covered in sticks and leaves. Through the mist, Nesta perceived that there was a magical presence that she had never felt before. The sweat condensed on the back of her neck. Suddenly, the path opened up to a glade. There was a fire burning there, but no one was there.
“This must be the place of the meeting!” said Nesta.
“Nesta, look!” Poxig said as he motioned to the ORB.
The ORB was glowing ever so slightly in shades of blue. As Poxig looked into the ORB, he saw a light that had never been there before. This might be a sacred space, such that the ORB could feel the magic power around him. As he looked around, aged men with long grey beards and red clothing approached from every side. They were wearing pointy red conical caps. They surrounded Poxig and Nesta, and at first it seemed like they were in trouble. But then, Poxig remembered that these were the stewards of light magic. No harm could come to them.
“We have known about your coming for some time,” said one sage.
“Who are you?” said another. “Identify yourself.”
“Please excuse me, sir. I am Poxig of Excelsior from beyond Marginalia. “My friends and I have come to your meeting place for help.”
“And I am Nesta, the white magician, and I seek the council’s favor.”
“I am Luckan,” said a bearded man in the red gown. “You are welcome here. But what is your business?”
“I come to learn the ways of magic,” said Nesta, “but my friend has come to enlist your help.”
“What she means to say, is that we need your skill to light the sacred ORB,” said Poxig. “My friends are waiting outside with an urgent message for the council. Without your help to light the ORB, we cannot gain the attention of the king of Marginalia, who holds the other ORBs in his chamber.”
“Well, then sir, this is a tall order!” said Luckan. “Our council is sworn to protect light forces from the dark influences. We are not mercenaries that can be bought!”
“We’re not asking you to perform a miracle,” said Poxig. “Please come with us to the end of Silvera, where my friend the dragon whisperer will translate the message from Bamut, the king of all dragonites,” Poxig said.
“We will do no such thing!” said a tawny skinned man around the edge of the circle. “This council confers in secret under the cover of the magic gate! It is the only way to protect ourselves from evil influences.”
“The gatekeeper would not let us in the gate,” said Nesta. “We had to leave our dragon Truliso at the entryway. Please! You’re the only one who can help us!”
The aura of the Naughright guild was hard to ignore. The fireflies flew all around like will-o-the-wisp. Strange music could be heard coming from the forest, but they could not tell from where. The tandem of heroes had come upon the most elite wizards and sages of Cosmon. To gain their trust would not be easy. Each of the sages looked at them with supercilious grins, and many of them were trained in manipulation and chicanery. Poxig remembered that some of them were loyal to Darxon, and yet they could not be sure which ones.
“We have heard many pretenders come and make their case before us,” said Luckan. “How can we be sure that you are the heroes of the prophecy?”
The only extant text of the prophecy that Poxig knew about was in the king’s chambers in Marginalia. It had been given as a sacred boon from the Naughright guild after the wars of religion. But now, here they were in the sacred academy of wizards, and it was impossible to justify themselves.
“I am the bearer of the ORB!” said Poxig. “This sacred ORB was bequeathed to me from my father!”
Luckan and the sages gasped as the circle began to widen and then close around the ORB, which continued to emit a blue glimmer. The great assembly of wizards made the ORB a dazzling array of colors that cycled around in the interior of the glowing sphere. The music became louder and whistled arpeggios over and over. The magical power that was contained in this enchanted artifact could not be denied.
“This is indeed the ORB of which prophecy speaks!” shouted Luckan into the throng of admirers.