Written by Amy Bisson / Artwork by Marge Simon
The Palace of the Wizard's Guild

































Yamarcia looked up the mountain. She could barely see the structure that sat on the top of the tall, jagged peak.
Then she turned to look at her twin sister Jesuine.

“You do realize if we try this, you will lose any chance whatsoever of being accepted into the Wizard’s Guild, right?”

“Yes,” said Jesuine. “Not that it matters. If we get caught, we won’t leave the castle alive.”

Yamarcia smiled. “We are the best thieves in the world.”

Jesuine also grinned. “But that is the best-protected building in the entire world. It’s not only is designed to be
impregnable, but is on top of an almost impossible to climb mountain, and has multiple layers of magical protection.”

“That’s why we work so well together,” Yamarcia said. “I can get us inside; you can get us past the magical
defenses.”

With that, Yamarcia began walking up the steep trail that led halfway up the mountain. Jesuine followed her, using
her quarterstaff as a walking stick.

“You’ll know how to find the book, right?” Yamarcia asked.

“Yes,” Jesuine said. “Once we’re inside I will know exactly where to go.”

The trail grew steeper as they walked. It was not long before conversation grew impossible, even for the sisters,
whose work as mercenaries and thieves left them in top physical condition. After a while, Yamarcia stopped. She
took a minute to get her breath.

“This is where we’ll stop for dinner,” she said, once she could speak again.

“Good choice,” Jesuine said. “I guess you noticed the trick.”

“Of course,” said Yamarcia. “From here we climb.”

The sisters both noticed the trail dead-ended on the opposite side of the mountain from the castle. In order to
reach their destination, they had to switch to climbing with ropes and other equipment at the exact spot they were
stopped.

Before they began the long and difficult climb, they ate some strips of dried meat and shared a small loaf of bread.
They drank water from their canteens. They didn’t bring any wine with them, knowing how they needed to stay
clearheaded in order to stand any chance of succeeding. They didn’t bring any greasy food, because even though
they would use leather climbing gloves, they still didn’t want their hands to be even slightly slick or slippery as they
climbed.


After they ate, Yamarcia took a rope with a grappling hook out of her bag. There was a small ledge directly
overhead that had been carved to assist climbers. The palace had been placed on the mountaintop specifically to
serve as a test for the dedication of potential initiates. One of their key beliefs, Jesuine had explained, is that the
control of the mind necessary to perform magic was directly tied to control of the body. Wizards were expected to
be physically fit.

The climb was long and arduous. As they climbed, Yamarcia asked, “So why is this particular book so important?”

“The Grimoire of the Forest combines knowledge of human magic with a long study of elven magic. It was written
by the only human wizard ever allowed to apprentice to an elf wizard,” Jesuine said.

“So is human magic and elf magic really so different?” Yamarcia asked.

“Yes,” Jesuine said. “It is based on a totally different worldview. The elves work with nature rather than working
with power.”

“Sounds like witchcraft,” Yamarcia said.
“In a very real sense it is,” Jesuine said.

By then they reached the ledge. Once Yamarcia was up, she turned to check on Jesuine. The young wizard was
reaching to grab the edge. She pulled herself up with no trouble.

They began the next climb. It appeared they would have to reach three ledges on their way to the palace. They
decided they would rest briefly once they reached the second. That way they would be freshly rested when they
reached the bottom of the castle walls.

“So besides finding this grimoire, you will be able to point out some other items to steal, right,” said Yamarcia as
they climbed.

“Yes,” said Jesuine without hesitation.

“Good,” said Yamarcia. “If we get away with this, we will be on the run for a very long time, so we’ll need stuff to
sell.”

While they rested on the second ledge, Yamarcia said, “Tell me about the man who wrote the grimoire.”

“Axcelle was obsessed with learning everything he could about magic. He studied under various human wizards, and
achieved a degree of mastery,” Jesuine said. “However, he reached the limits of what he could learn of human
magic. Every wizard has a limit on how much he or she can handle. Axcelle reached his.”

“He was not satisfied with this,” continued Jesuine. “He kept trying to learn more. It was especially frustrating
because he reached his limit before his twenty-second birthday. He spent three years struggling to push past his
limits, almost destroying himself in the process.”

“How could he have destroyed himself?” Yamarcia asked.

“If he pushed too hard, tried to use too much power, he could have burned out all his magical abilities,” Jesuine
answered. “He could have even killed himself in the process, and if that happened it might have triggered an
explosion that could have killed anyone within five leagues of where he stood.”

Yamarcia shuddered at that image. “You better be careful,” she said. “I only have one sister. Besides, I’m usually
within far less than five leagues of you.”

“I am always careful,” Jesuine said. “I know my limits.”

“So how did Axcelle decide to study with the elves?” Yamarcia asked.

“One day, he was walking a road near some woods, when he was attacked by robbers,” Jesuine said. “He was able
to use his magic to fight them off, but one of the robbers shot a crossbow, and the bolt hit him. He was badly
wounded, in danger of dying. When some elves saw him, they healed him. He noticed their magic was totally
different.”

“Did the elves start teaching him right then?” Yamarcia asked.

“No,” Jesuine answered. “He actually had to beg for months to study with them. Elves are not fond of humans to
begin with, and really don’t trust us with something as dangerous as magic.”

Yamarcia stood up and threw her grappling hook onto the last ledge. As she climbed, she looked up to see if she
could figure out what to do next. She was totally baffled.

“What do we do after this next ledge?” she asked.

“There’s a magic door,” Jesuine said. “I say the magic word and we can get in.”

“Won’t that signal someone in the castle?” Yamarcia asked.

“I will cast a spell on the door before speaking the word to open it.” By then both women were in the ledge.

Yamarcia watched as Jesuine made intricate designs in the air with her fingers and muttered an incantation. When
she was done with that, her voice took on a more commanding tone and she said, “Ankh.”

With that, a piece of the mountainside pushed in, revealing a cavern. The sisters could see a staircase towards the
back of the cavern leading up. Jesuine entered, and Yamarcia followed.

Once they were both in, the door closed. Yamarcia expected to be plunged into darkness, but instead a soft glow
covered the floor. It only provided minimal light, but she could see.

When the twins were almost at the stairs, they heard footsteps descending. They quickly sought out a hiding place.
They found a small niche just past the stairs.

“Are you sure there is someone down here?” a voice asked from above.

“The wizards said the door was opened, and the alarm was muffled by magic,” another voice said.

“So we’re looking for intruders, rather than potential initiates,” the first voice said. “Anyone with a legitimate reason
for visiting the palace would not try to muffle the alarm.”

Yamarcia listened until the footsteps reached ground level. Then she gestured to Jesuine. Years of working
together, both as thieves and as mercenaries, had only sharpened their ability to communicate with each other.

Yamarcia bolted out of the niche. She sprang up behind the two guards and knocked their helmets together. One
guard fell unconscious, but the other turned to Yamarcia, still conscious and alert.

Yamarcia saw the guard already had his sword drawn. She reached for her own sword, backpedaling furiously as
she did so.

Jesuine stepped out and used her quarterstaff to trip the guard. It gave Yamarcia the opening she needed. She
removed the guard’s helmet and knocked his head against the floor a few times, making sure he fell unconscious.

Jesuine cast a spell on the guards. Although Yamarcia did not speak the language of magic, she had heard her
sister utter a sleep spell often enough to know what she was doing. She also knew one side effect of the spell was
to cure the headaches the guards would ordinarily have from getting knocked unconscious.

The twins wrapped wool around the bottoms of their shoes to keep their footsteps from being heard. They climbed
the staircase silently. Yamarcia stayed extra vigilant. She knew someone had sent the guards down.

It was only after they reached the top of the stairs that the next attack came. There was a wooden door, and
standing in the shadows next to it was a third guard. Yamarcia almost missed him, despite looking straight at his
hiding place.

It was Jesuine who initially alerted Yamarcia. “There is magical concealment here.”

That was when Yamarcia noticed the guard. She lunged at him, not bothering to draw her sword on the small
landing. They wrestled for several seconds. Yamarcia started to lose her footing and when she repositioned herself
she pushed the guard off the landing. He plunged to the cavern floor, perhaps forty or fifty feet. Yamarcia felt
regret, even though she knew he would have killed her if given the opportunity.

Yamarcia stepped aside to let Jesuine study the door. After a couple of incantations and some hand-gestures, she
grabbed the knob and opened the door.

They entered a large chamber. It had a mosaic stone tile floor and large windows of stained glass. Besides where
they had just emerged, there were two doors in the room. Yamarcia looked around carefully but saw no sign of
anyone.

Jesuine indicated which door to go through. “It should be in that room.”

Yamarcia opened the door and walked through. She stepped inside the largest library she had ever seen. There
were hundreds of bookcases. Everywhere she looked she saw books and bookshelves.

Before Yamarcia could ask if Jesuine knew where to begin, her twin began marching confidently towards one wall.
Like all the walls in the room, it was covered in bookshelves. Although there were probably over a thousand tomes
along that one wall, Jesuine didn’t hesitate. She approached one specific volume and pulled it down.

“This is the one,” she said.

Suddenly from across the room came the sound of applause. Yamarcia drew her sword.

“There will be no need of that,” said an elderly man as he walked towards the twins. “You are not in trouble.”

“We just broke into your palace to steal one of your books,” Yamarcia said. “What do you mean we’re not in
trouble?”

By then, several other people had emerged from hiding. As Yamarcia watched them approach, she lowered her
sword but did not sheathe it.

“When a young wizard is ready, we carefully plant a suggestion to lead them to this palace,” the old man said. “In
this case, we made sure your sister was aware of that specific volume and also possessed all the information she
needed to enter the palace and find it.”

“This was a test?” Yamarcia asked. “One of your guards died.”

“No, he didn’t,” the old man said. “We cast a spell to cushion the floor. That man was not even injured.”

“Are you saying I can join the Guild?” Jesuine asked.

“The moment your hand touched that book, you became a member,” the old man said. “Welcome to the Wizard’s
Guild.”

Yamarcia walked over to her sister and gave her a hug. “Congratulations,” she said. Jesuine hugged her back
wordlessly.
THE LORELEI SIGNAL
Amy Bisson lives in the Charleston, SC area. She was originally
from the Worcester, MA area. She is a total nerd who loves Star
Wars, Star Trek, fantasy, science fiction, D&D, etc.