Friday, May 17, 2013

Peeking Through the Portal

The World In-between brought us from the modern mundane world through the portal to the magical Land of Sages. There, we discovered the quaint Sages’ Grove with the Empire Tree at its center. We journeyed to the magic hating walled city of Calledin. Then, we ventured into the dark Dragonlands.

Bow of the Moon showed us glimpses of the Elf stronghold, Irmingard with its moat full of magic and blinding white ramparts. We raced to colorful Fairyland, which straddles the border of the Land of Sages and the Dragonlands. Beyond both lands, we traversed the mysterious God Mountain. Finally, we traveled further than the known world and lived to tell the tale.

Secrets of the Sages will take us to the hot, barren grasslands of the Outlands where the Ghost Tribe finds you. We are summoned to the underground city of Grunnan—the last Dwarf state on either side of the portal.

From Secrets of the Sages:
Rounding a bend, they entered a large room full of multiple tracks. On the rough walls hung torches whose flickering light illuminated thick timber supports. They approached one of the half dozen mine carts.

As Colvin opened the cart door, Berty glimpsed at the hammer and pickaxe crossed in front of a keystone that was embossed on the metal. Inside were three benches. Two on either end, where occupants would face each other, and one in the middle on which a person could sit either way. The Dwarf had Edwin and Declan sit on the rear bench, while Berty sat on the middle bench. Closing the door, Colvin sat next to Berty.

With a push of a lever, the cart began to move. The last time Berty traveled in a mine cart, his advisor took him to the Empire Vaults.

Before leaving the large room, the tracks converged. They entered a tunnel, which held two tracks. The wooden supports and torches started to whiz by as the cart picked up speed. When the torches ended, cool air rustling through his hair told Berty that they moved much faster than when he visited the vault.

Every so often, he could feel the cart lean as it rounded bends. He was not sure how far they had been traveling, but his legs told him that he had been sitting in the cart for awhile. Eventually, his eyes detected light somewhere up ahead. The cramps in his legs relaxed hoping that they had reached their destination.

The cart slowed slightly. Torchlight illuminated levers between the tracks. Reaching, Colvin moved a couple. When the tunnel widened, the cart rode on the Dwarf’s chosen track. Their speed decreased further, making the rough rock walls less blurry.

The tunnel opened into a gigantic cave. Rushing water echoed in the cavern. The track wove through stalagmites spiking from the ground and columns formed by the meeting of stalactites and stalagmites. Berty’s eyes detected a soft light, but he could not find the source.

A forest of cave formations gave way to an imposing expansive clearing. In the distance, Berty spied an underground El Dorado. Rays of sunlight spilled into a crack in the earth above. Mesoamerican style pyramids glittered with a golden hue. Crossing the clearing quickly, the cart zipped towards the golden city.

Some tracks led to the golden steps that cascaded down the side of the first pyramid. Their track took them inside a golden tunnel that cut through the pyramid.

“Welcome to Grunnan,” said Colvin. Pulling a lever, they switched tracks. “This takes us straight to the Prince.”

“Is Grunnan made entirely of gold?” asked Declan.

The Dwarf smiled under his fiery beard. “All the stone is covered with thin sheets of a gold alloy. It is a secret blend of metals that helps keep our city safe.”

“Gold allows for magic to travel easily,” said Declan.

“When need be,” Colvin responded. “The gold also is easier on the eyes underground.”

The mine cart stopped inside a golden room. Dwarves wearing brownish-gold armor heavily guarded the room and its many exits.

Opening the door, Colvin jumped out. “Mind your head, Lieutenant. Dwarf construction does not take into account the height of Elves.”

Berty carefully exited the cart. While waiting for the others, he realized that his head was very close to the gold ceiling. Declan glanced upwards at the ceiling that was also only a few inches from the top of his head. Getting out of the cart, Edwin had to hunch to stand and walk.

All three of them ducked as they followed Colvin into a claustrophobia-inducing staircase. The golden tunnel that encased the stairs looked to go on forever.

To distract himself from feeling like the gold walls were going to close in on him, Berty said to Colvin, “This area is heavily guarded, but I did not see any guards as we approached the city.”

“The Royal Battalion protects only the Palace and the Royal Family,” Colvin said.

“Who protects Grunnan?” asked Berty.

“The city does not have an official guard. If need be, we Dwarves will head into battle. However, Grunnan is equipped to protect itself,” Colvin explained. “The Dwarves who built this place were masters of their trade. Any Dwarf who learns their secrets and knowledge are known as a Master tradesmen in his field.” He glanced at the three men following him. “Mind your heads,” he told them.

Bending to avoid hitting his head, Berty stepped out of the staircase. A grandiose room with plenty of room for their heads greeted them. Gold columns supported a gold vaulted ceiling. Shining shallow bowls holding fire dotted the golden floor. Members of the Royal Battalion stood guard throughout the room.

They approached many golden steps that led to a golden throne encrusted with large jewels.

“My Lord, welcome to the Royal Palace of Grunnan,” said Goscislaw’s low growl. The Dwarf Prince hurried down the many steps to greet his guests. “I am glad that you were able to come on such short notice. Please, come with me.”

Secrets of the Sages is the third book in the World In-between epic fantasy series. Look for it this year.

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