The Philosopher, who no longer knew himself by that name nor responded to it except when called by Upashna for they met in the realm of magic where he sacrificed his name for passage through the first gate, picked up their two packs placing one across his chest and the other on his back. He then set his and Upashna’s staffs in her arms and once again with the skill of the martial artist lifted her body from the stream where her foot was soaking into his arms and proceeded to carry her to the second gate.
Upashna was quick to protest. “You do not have to carry me Philosopher. I am sure with the brace you made for my ankle I can walk.”
“You will have ample time to walk after we gain passage through the next gate but for now, I am going to carry you to give the wood of your brace enough time to dry and form a strong bond with your leg. Besides I do not have many opportunities to carry a real wizard.”
Upashna was beginning to like the Philosopher more and more but she knew she should not because he was human and the Council Of Wizards would not permit another such union. The marriage of her mother, Princess of Morocco, to her father, the Wizard Baldwin of Swansea was the last wizard union with a human but that was only after he had trained her in the ways of wizardry.
They soon reached the second gate where another Viking like figure awaited them. The Philosopher set Upashna down on the steps to the gateway. Once again Upashna because she is a wizard was permitted passage without dificulty. Then the gatekeeper turned his attention to the Philosopher.
“Who are you,” he asked in a deep rolling voice.
“I am no one,” replied the philosopher. “I have no name. What is it you want for my passage?
“I see you’ve met my brother Mingus. He likes to collect names and the histories of people, but I am different. My name is Free. I collect desires, but because desires are not as easily transferred as names, I also require tangible proof that you will give up the search for your desire. Tell me what is your greatest desire. As before you have ten minutes to make an offer for passage. If I do not receive an acceptable offer within the time frame, you will be denied passage. Do you understand?”
“Yes. I understand sir,” The Philosopher replied.
The Philosopher knew his desire for truth was what the gatekeeper was looking for but he had no tangible evidence to prove he would give up his search and gain passage. He had the tome which fell from his shelf and started this adventure but the book was not his to offer. It belonged to the Wizard Baldwin Of Swansea. The Philosopher saw Upashna waiting but she could not help him. He closed his eyes.
“The Book. Give him the Book,” a voice from nowhere said. He opened his eyes. The gatekeeper and Upashna were still waiting patiently. They had not heard the voice. It was meant for him. Again the voice spoke, “Philosopher, as you already know the only questions that really matter are the ones you ask yourself. There is no universal truth. I will explain later but give him the book. We need you and Upashna here as soon as possible.”
The Philosopher opened his eyes. “I will give you my desire for truth and to prove the release of this desire from my being l offer you this tome, a guide book of truth from the Other Realm.” The Philosopher could see the uneasiness in Upashna as he went to his pack, removed the text and gave it to the gatekeeper. “Will this payment provide passage for me through your gate?”
The gatekeeper examined the text closely. The empty pages that The Philosopher had previously observed were now filled with printed words. At first he thought he might had been tricked by the voice but breathed with a sigh of release when the gatekeeper accept his payment.
“This is acceptable you may past under the condition that you promise to give up your search for truth,” said Free.
“I agree to your terms gatekeeper. I will from this moment forward forgo my search for truth.”
“You may pass.”
The Philosopher closed his pack now empty of the reason for this journey, picked up Upashna in his arms and carried her through the open gate. Although she spoke not a word, The Philosopher felt her uneasiness with his choice and spoke first. “If we are going to survive this journey, we must both have absolute trust in each other Upashna. Your father told me to offer the tome in exchange for passage.”
“Yes. His voice told me to use the text for payment. It was important for us to reach the Other Realm as soon as possible. I did only as he instructed. I would not have given up the sacred text for any other reason.”
“I understand Philosopher. My fear was that you would abandon me as your main reason for this journey was to have my father translate his book. You do have my complete trust which is something I have not given any other man except for my father,” Upashna said.
“You are correct Upashna. In the beginning all I could think about was having a translation of the truth but that all changed after sharing this time with you. I am here because I want to be with you and assist your family in whatever way I can.” He could feel the heaviness drifting away from Upashna ‘s body. His eyes were fixed on the terrain before them. They were in a desert of hills of sand without any walls, trees or landmarks of any kind. This he thought was the ultimate labyrinth.
…to be continued.