Designed by Faltrannir, Vryce, Highlander & Warlock
Lifespan: 20 minutes
Medium Groups: 16-20/li>
Large Groups: 14-20
Wearily, Byronnil approached the gates of Vanlarra. Many days of travel lay behind him, but finally the object of his travels stood before within reach. Finally, he would get the training he needed to be a mage! His grandmother had always told him that he had the gift, and here in this city he would be able to prove it to the world.
These thoughts put a spring in his step as he drew near the gatehouse by the moat. An old, grizzled guardsman sat resting in a chair, and looked up as Byronnil came forward. With an irritated tone, the guardsman grunted out, "Name?"
"Byronnil, sir, from the village of Gdangus."
The guardsman rolled his eyes. "Reason for entering?"
Today was too fine a day to get riled by such rudeness, so Byronnil continued on cheerfully. "I seek application for apprenticeship under the mages of the tower."
Finally, the guard's voice softened. "Take my advice, boy, and go home. There are too many applicants already."
"But, but..... I have journeyed so far, and I have the gift, I know it!"
"I'm sure you do, and I'm sure you'd make a fine apprentice. But Vanlarra's reputation has spread far and wide, and there are more applicants than the tower has space for. You'd be better off going somewhere else."
"Please, just give me a chance! I'll work and study hard, I'll..."
The guard interrupted Byronnil. "Listen up, and take the advice of an old man. Look through the gates, and tell me what you see."
"Why... why.... it appears to be hovels! I was expecting a grand city!"
The gatekeeper nodded, and let out a sigh. "You really don't know much about this place, after all the time you spent to get here, do you?"
"I suppose I know less than I thought I did. Please, explain this to me."
"Hold on for just a moment." The guard disappeared into the gatehouse, and returned shortly with another chair. "It is a long story, and you look tired. May as well sit down while I tell it."
After Byronnil had slumped dejectedly into the proffered chair, the guard continued. "Let me start back at the beginning. Surely you know of the sinking of Lattyrna?"
"The legendary city east of Trellor? Of course!" Eager to show he wasn't totally ignorant, Byronnil continued, "The gods sank the city as punishment for the arrogance of the leader."
"Exactly. Now, not everyone in the city stayed in it when it sank. Many, blessed with the foresight to see what was happening, fled before the gods inflicted their punishment. Some of them, eager to avoid such tragedy again, came here and founded Vanlarra. The goal was to train mages not just in the mystical arts, but in ethics, so as to avoid the pride that caused the downfall of Lattyrna."
"I knew that, but..."
"Don't interrupt, boy, it's rude!" Cowed by this outburst, Byronnil stopped and let the guard continue. "They were successful beyond their greatest expectations, and their reputation spread throughout the land. Soon, more and more applicants came to Vanlarra, more than they could train. Rather than cut back on the quality of the training they provided, the instructors here started turning more and more applicants away. Those applicants, desperate for the chance of someday getting in, stayed in the area. Some found gainful employment in the city, but many were forced to put together whatever residence they could construct for themselves."
"Ah, that explains the shanty I saw."
"Exactly. Some areas of the city are well built, but others are haphazard constructions out of whatever people found lying around. I don't want to see you end up in the slums, boy, so I suggest you go back to your home and family."
"Is there really no hope for me here?"
Looking at the sad dejection on the boys face, the guard let out a sigh. "There is always hope, lad. That is why so many people stay. I just want you to know that it is a slim chance, and you have to be willing to take the risk of never getting in."
"I'm not a quitter. I will be accepted, I just know it! I'll work hard, and...."
"Yes, yes. I know. As much as I'd like to send you home, I have to let you in if it is your choice. One last warning for you though."
"What is it?"
"Along with the success in training forces of light here, comes a dark side. Evil elements, eager to find the secrets of the city, also lurk about. I'd advise you not to put too much trust in anyone until it has been earned."
"Have not the mages of the tower done something about that?"
"Of course. They have brought in a number of 'specialists' to track down those they can find. 'Use a spy to catch a spy', and all that. But there will always be some that manage to sneak in undetected, and avoid capture."
Byronnil gulped. "Well, I can't go back without at least trying to get in. Thanks for all the advice, but I have to continue."
"Good luck to you, then. I've done my best to discourage you, but in the end, it is your choice. Enter, and straight ahead lies the tower. Put your name on the rolls, and they may get back to you."
Byronnil stood, thanked the guard, and continued into the city. The guard watched his retreating form, and wondered if he could have said anything further to discourage the boys idealism. Probably not, since 35 years earlier, noone had been able to discourage his own hopes of training in the tower...
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