Having departed from Edeb Castle, Benda and Eradus made their way to the coast. They rode without incident, and arrived at last to the Arch of Passing.
The Arch was situated atop a low broad stone platform, elevated about the height of a man from the surrounding terrain, and accessible by a staircase whose steps were deep enough and spaced enough that their golek mounts could climb to the top without issue.
From atop the platform, they could look through the arch down to the troubled waters of the Edebian Passage, which split the island from the mainland many eons ago. Though the distance was not great for a boatman, the waters were dangerous enough that any such crossings had been long ago abandoned in favor of traversing by way of the arches.
The original builders of this portail system had been lost in the mists of time. Legends differed, Eradus explained to Benda, as to whether they had been built by the ancient Lagom or Ardeid peoples, or some other mysterious third party.
Benda looked dubiously from their platform across to the far shore, where he could make out another arch atop a similar stone platform.
“How do we cross?” he said. “It seems if ever there were a bridge here, it has fallen. And I see no ferryman to bear us to the other side.”
“Follow me,” Eradus said, urging his steed Selef on through the arch. Benda nearly leapt out of his saddle, when, as to all appearances, he expected the two to fall off the opposite side of the platform, tumbling down the cliff to the water below. But instead, they simply vanished. Benda looked around anxiously, and saw nothing.
Suddenly, his eyes caught a glimmer of motion, and he looked across to the far platform, to see a tiny Eradus and Selef waving from the other side. Holding his breath, Benda urged Dema forward — who seemed far less anxious than he. And where his eyes told him they should fall off the platform, Dema’s feet instead arrived onto the stone of the far platform, with Eradus and Selef standing slightly off to one side.
Eradus was smiling broadly, “I remember my first passing. I was as confused as you.”
Benda was looking back to in the direction from which they had come. “You’ve visited this island before?”
“Once, when I was a young man,” he said. “But there are other portails as well.” He did not say where. Benda was intrigued. Though his memory still failed him, he was fairly certain he’d never heard of any such thing before.
“Well then,” Benda said. “If you’ve come this way before, you must know the way to the Cloudspire. Take the lead.”
“Though I’ve visited the plains in the east of this Isle, never have I ventured forth into the Western region.” Eradus pointed toward the mountains in the west of the island. Amongst them in the distance, they could make out the outline of a lonely structure reaching up from one of the mountains, clear into the clouds and sky above. “I suspect we won’t have any difficulty finding it.”
They descended the stairs of the platform, and crossed the open plain below in the direction of the mountains. They camped for the night in the plain, not sensing any danger from beast or foul weather. Their goleks grazed contentedly as the stars above twinkled into sight, while night unfurled her splendid cloak. Eradus took the first watch, and roused Benda in the late hours of the night when it was his turn.
Benda breathed in the fresh sea air coming in off the plain, and calmly peered off into the darkness, as the embers of their fire died down. His eyelids were heavy, and he struggled to stay awake. Though he’d recovered his strength since arriving in Devera, and after Edebia, he was still troubled by the loss of his memory, and his inability to peer beyond the veil that occluded him from himself.
He awoke with a start in the pre-dawn light, and realized he had dozed off. He opened his eyes, and as they came into focus, he became aware of a huge black shape standing over him, blocking out the stars. He let out a slight, frightened yelp, which luckily awoke Eradus from sleep nearby.
To Benda’s puzzlement, Eradus laughed heartily. “There’s nothing to fear, friend. The sable goleks of this island are large, but harmless.”
Benda’s eyes adjusted to the darkness, and he was then able to make out the face of an immense, presumably wild, dusky golek staring down at him, sniffing. Behind this creature, Benda was able to make out Dema and Selef, who were scampering about, playing happily, sniffing, and tumbling with the other sables. Benda reached out a hand, still somewhat nervously, and the immense black golek near him allowed him to stroke his cheek, and scratch his chin, before scampering off to play with the others.
Eradus yawned, looking after them, “Their race inhabits only this island. They live still wild as once all goleks did, in innocence. Let us sleep a bit more, as dawn is not far off. We need not keep watch with them nearby. Tomorrow we climb into the mountains, and will need our full strength.”
Benda slipped back to sleep easily, and dreamt of Dema and Selef playing happily amongst their wild cousins.