Tefl and Poxig woke that morning with some trepidation that the winter wraiths of the Ladimore mountains would descend. As the first rays of daylight ceded to the afternoon glare, the cold began to make them more cantankerous by the minute. The icy cliffs seemed quite impassable and Truliso for the moment had disappeared from view. As they awoke from their slumber in the icy cliff, they plotted their course back through Nitla Pass to the confines of Marginalia. With the ORB lit, they would have a chance at reaching the king and presenting themselves as the warriors who were to fulfill the prophecy. But the episode with Marty the gatekeeper had made them realize their material lack, and in fact they could not depend on civilized methods to reach their goal. Poxig awoke, as if from a stupor, only wishing that he could return to his days as a bard of old tales. There was no place for music in this regions, and winter wraiths were always tracking them.
“We must advance through Nitla Pass, and back across the Vistula river, said Tefl.
“I beg to differ,” said Poxig after a moment’s pause. “Those roads only lead to peril, and we will surely be overtaken by highwaymen, or worse, winter wraiths.”
“Well, by what authority do you make this decision?” asked Tefl.
“I pray to my god Releven, and he renders decisions that I must follow,” said Poxig.
“Releven is a legend of the elvenfolk, but he is not to be trusted in the time of peril,” said Tefl.
“Think of it this way: suppose we were to make it through Nitla Pass, like we were able to last time. Don’t you think that Darxon will be anticipating for us to use that route? He already knows that we have been to the Naughright guild. Only Releven had a great enough strength to oppose Mithrax at the pass. Our way is fraught with peril and we lack adequate resources to oppose such a force. We must go up Mt. Redoubt through the Renfro Woods. Do you have a better idea?”
“We must needs make our way through with the force that Master Control provides. No visible god can help us. How can you depend on the advice of an Elven legend to lead you in the time of war? Did not you learn of the religion that divided man and elf during the war? We must depend on a force stronger than an Elven myth.”
This severely irked Poxig because he knew of Releven’s protection and favor, but could not make his friend see the danger of returning through Nitla Pass on the King’s road. They had lost nearly all their silver in their expedition to the Silver City, and they would not have recourse to journey in the open where they were subject to taxes and tolls. Also, it was likely that Darxon knew of their path and had posted sentries.
The argument continued between the two companions.
“We must plow through Nitla Pass and face Darxon’s threat head on,” said Tefl.
“I admire your courage. But where did you get that argument?”
“What are you talking about?”
“No man stands alone. He must stand on the shoulders of a giant that has come before,” replied Poxig.
“Master Control bids it.”
“But we cannot stand on the shoulders of an invisible God.”
“Do you have a better idea?”
“Releven was the god that stood against Mithrax at Nitla Pass,” Poxig said.
“And you think that Releven is actually a god?”
“He is the elven diamond, the son of the promise,” replied Poxig.
“And you claim to know this god?” asked Tefl.
“My family has paid obeisance since my youth,” he replied.
“Then, your visible god has told you that we will not be able to defeat the Dark Lord at Nitla Pass?” Tefl asked.
“I am sure of it,” said Poxig.
The argument continued for some time like that, back and forth. No hero could convince the other fully. But in the end, they had to compromise. The party would ascend Mt. Redoubt and press on through the Renfro woods. There were more chances to run into wolves. The trail might be unclear, and the chance of getting lost was likely, but they had to stand on the shoulders of a god that had come before. No invisible God with a half-known prophecy could be trusted to lead them with superior force and courage.