AT THE WIZARDS' GATE pretentious cosmic picture


Falnee looked at the great buildings...all of wood, no stone buildings would fit in with the emerald twilight they were encased in, as sunlight was filtered by countless leaves in the great trees. He saw some activity, some low talking, but boisterous it wasn't. Yet the main Academy was like a great stockade, with great logs making up its front, carved with totems, yet reaching to great heights. The faces carved therein leered at the rushing Mabsin river. Trees towered behind it, and at least one large wooden tower. Beyond it, the trees seemed to thin, and it seemed a large hill, bare of trees, could be dimly seen in the distance. There was a main gate, also of wood, leading from the dock, but the doors were open. Cobblestones led to the main entrance to the Academy.

The gate was open--ntil Falnee walked towards it. Then it slammed in his face. So Falnee sat down and waited. He had evidently activated some sort of spell in walking towards the gate, and he was certain it was notifying someone.

While he was waiting, he got out a small knife. Metal it was, and should dig right into wood. But it made no more impression than if he had used his knife on stone, or metal. It was enchanted, obviously, so the wood would blend in with the forest, but that it would be as tough and as enduring as stone. Even the vines that seemed to intertwine on the gates were actually part of the gates, and as touch as the rest. Atop each bar, at the top of the gate, was a small demon's head.

In a few minutes, an older woman came out, with silver in her hair that she wore short. She was very small and thin, with a large nose. Falnee, who was a trifle plump, would have made five of her. Sorceresses were not quite as plentiful as wizards, but they still constituted a goodly number of those who practiced magick. "Ah, a new pupil! Where are you from, young man?"

"The country of Grejakim, north near the giants' mountains, a town called Fairsight."

"And how are you named, young man?"


"Ah, an old proud name. But surely Silvershield--which is what your name means--would be a better name for a soldier, rather than a world-be wizard?"

"My father was a soldier, and retired to the village. He named me after his hopes, not mine." Looking down at his rather soft, plump appearance..."You can see, I am not really of warrior stuff. But I understand I will get a new name here?"

"Yes. Elvish is to be preferred here, and helps to establish a new feeling of identity. For instance my name is Stilchaun."

She waited expectantly, and he didn't disappoint her. "Namemaker in the elven tongue. So you will give me the new name?"

"Yes. May I see your token given you by your sponser?"

"Yes." He took out the small crystal given him by the mage who had found he had promise, and had paid for the trip to Wal Langand. He handed it to Stilchaun. She cupped it carefully in her hand, as it seemed to be telling her a story.

As indeed it was.

"You didn't want to stay at the same small, sleepy village, I see. You long to see new things and new places. I don't think any place will suit you for long."

"Yes. To stay at one place too long is to die a little."

"Runsdri will be your wizard's name, your Elvish name. Scatterbest. For you are at your best when you are sent to scattered places of the World Waterrimmed. Do you accept it?"

"Do I have a choice?"

"One always has a choice in this world. I am the namemaker and gatekeeper, though, and one goes with another. Do you accept it?"

"I'll be honest...I'm not crazy about it. Yet at least it fits me better than the name my father saddled with me. Runsdri it is."

When he said the name, the gates opened.

"That name," she smiled, "is now your passport to be with us. I am weaving, even as we are talking, that name deep into our warding spells. For the ordinary places we can access, if you get any resistence, simply using your new name will allow you access. Only your voice saying that will do so...someone else saying that will gain them nothing."

"A simple yet effective protection. Where now?"

"To show you your quarters, and then meet the Mage Supreme."

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Copyright © 1997 Al Schroeder