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  • Writer's pictureRebecca Holmes

The Fable of the Gate

The Fable of the Gate is a well-known folktale on both continents, each having its own version and moral objectives. The following is the Esmaran version of the story. Like most such tales, it has been embellished over the centuries and varies with each retelling. Look carefully, however, and you may find grains of historical truth between its lines of fantasy.

In the year 1677, a young Celessilian mage set out on a long and perilous journey to the Roof of the World, in search of an ancient gateway rumoured to be buried there beneath sixteen centuries of ice and snow. As an elementalist with a particular talent in incendiary arts, Sil’celes believed her ability to generate her own heat and melt the ice beneath her feet would defeat the unforgiving frost.

A few weeks earlier, a kinetic mage set out from Imul’dene with the same intent. With his ability to lift and displace many times his own weight, Deizil believed he would make short work of the snow and ice that barred his way and uncover secrets lost since before time was counted. Alas, while he cleared snowdrift after snowdrift, he was no match for the harsh conditions of the North and its constant blizzards. Though he tried again and again, the roof’s icy shingles refused to yield to his touch, and he would be forced to retreat, exhausted, to his packed snow hut; only to find the way once again buried in snow come morning.

At first, Sil’celes made quick progress towards the fabled buried glacier beneath which the gateway was thought to lie. With the heat of her own raw energy swelling around her like a furnace of hot coals, she barely felt the cold and no blizzard could touch her. But once she reached the foot of the glacier and sunk her hands and her power into its base, she was soon overwhelmed by the sheer volume of snow that covered her prize and was forced to retreat, exhausted, to her packed snow hut; only to find what little progress she had made obliterated come morning.

When at last their paths crossed, there was, at first, suspicion. By what path would a man of Langlythe find himself beyond the mountainous walls of his dark homeland? And yet, as they talked, they found that they were not so different; for the languages of northwest and southeast once shared a common mother tongue. They agreed that if they worked together, they might complete the task that had defeated each of them alone.

Deizil cut and shoved the snow aside. Sil’celes melted deep into the ancient ice. And as the water hissed and pooled below, they saw it for the first time: the World Gate, carved of marbled stone, a great doorway standing alone in its magnificence. The height of two men and the width of four abreast, it towered over them as they descended into the icy crevasse.

An inscription scrawled across the top of its curved frame in that old ancestral language. Together they took its meaning: the World Gate connected all the doors of the world as one, that any might come and go between lands as they please. The gate had long been sealed, however; not merely lost to the ravages of time, but purposely locked and buried at the time of the Great Segregation. Its key lay hidden elsewhere.

Deizil and Sil’celes made camp together that night and pondered what to do about their discovery, for returning with news of the Gate to either country would surely spark a race for the key. And what would their present day independent races do with such a power?

In the end, they made a pact. They would never speak of their discovery, nor record it in writing. They would return to their respective lands unsuccessful in their search and allow the World Gate to remain nothing more than a legend, for no one faction of man could be entrusted with the power to come and go as they please and not use it for dominion over others. And so they parted, never again to meet.

Sil’celes kept her promise, carrying the secret of the World Gate to her grave. Her homeland flourished for decades to come, untouched by the corrupting forces of war, power and greed. Deizil, craving respect and admiration from his peers, broke his promise, casting his land into perpetual darkness.

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