Ryl leaned back against the wall, sighed, and began to fiddle with the rune-free spear he had been given for the day. He had been ordered to leave the enchanted one behind, for fear that it might interfere with the ceremony taking place behind the door he guarded. The guard opposite him, his elder and superior, stared disapprovingly. Ryl sighed again and straightened up. He had been standing in the same place for almost a full day. How long could casting a spell possibly take?

He strained his ears, listening to the casters' whispery words, and resumed the game he had been playing for the past few hours. Only casters could hold words of power in their minds for longer than a few moments. Ryl was determined to remember at least one, regardless of his non-caster status. He caught one. "Moratoh." "Moratoh," he whispered under his breath, over and over. "Moratoh, moratoh, mora- " he yawned. "Drat. Lost it again."

The other guard turned swiftly to glare at him again. He mouthed the words, "Be quiet," and returned his gaze to the length of the hallway.

Ryl rolled his eyes. "No one's coming," he thought. "Anyway, I highly doubt anyone could find this place, even if they wanted to. These corridors are hell on the mind." He listened for another word, but was greeted with silence. He resumed his proper position just as the door opened behind him.

Lesser casters led the way, followed by greater casters and the High Caster himself. The High Caster carried with him a sphere about the size of his head. He didn't seem to be straining, so it obviously wasn't too heavy. Light from a nearby torch played across the orb's surface, the reflected light temporarily blinding Ryl. He immediately averted his eyes and took his place behind the High Caster.

The procession of casters shuffled steadily down the labyrinthine corridors, never pausing to ponder the correct direction. Ryl was grateful, as he had no idea where they were, or even how to return to the ceremonial chamber.

As they climbed the first flight of stairs, Ryl gazed down at the maze of tunnels sprawled out before him. Some parts were covered, while others were not, but the torches lining the walls were constant. The place had been an underwater cave, until the casters had come along. They had first shoved the water back and sealed it out. Their spells held the walls together, preventing the cave from crumbling around them. The only room not held together by magic was the ceremonial chamber, as it was above water level. However, it was located beneath an impenetrable mountain, and thus unreachable by land.

Ryl turned his gaze forward, and was once again captivated by the orb. The light it reflected was casting a multitude of colors over the walls, giving him the feeling of walking through a rainbow. As interesting as it was, the lights were making it difficult to see where he was going, and he stumbled and almost tripped several times on the journey up.

Suddenly, sunlight filled the cavern, and Ryl cheered inwardly. "Finally, I know where I am again," he thought, grinning. He looked back to the orb again, eager to see what it would do with the sunlight, and gasped. The orb was changing. While it had first been spherical and head-sized, it was now the size of the High Caster's hand, and shrinking rapidly. It had also assumed a more blob-like shape.

Several moments later the orb had completed its shift. It was now a small, unassuming ring, which the High Caster promptly slipped onto his finger. The procession broke apart, as many of the casters hurried back to their respective bedchambers, eager for a good night's sleep. Ryl envied them. Their task had been completed, while his had not yet begun.

As soon as he had returned to his room, Ryl locked the door behind him and collapsed onto his bed, wishing he could use a sealing spell like the casters. A lock was no protection from a caster desiring entrance, and having one of them walk in on him unannounced was pretty high on his list of concerns at the moment. Rather than dwell on that fact, he began rummaging through the trunk at the foot of his bed. What business would a caster have with him, anyway?

After fishing around for a while, and discovering a moldy substance formerly known as 'food,' he located the object he had been searching for. A pair of earrings matching the pair he currently wore. The only difference was that the pair he now held in his hand was spelled, while the other was not.

He removed the first pair, and carefully put in the second. Immediately after finishing, he heard a soft voice in his head.

"About time. I thought you'd never return. So," he paused. "How did it go? Did you run into any trouble. More importantly, where's the Redjuuk?"

Ryl paused, organizing his thoughts. Then he spoke. "It took them forever to cast the spell, which is why I'm late. There was no trouble. The High Caster has the Redjuuk. Last time I saw the thing it was in the shape of a ring. Just a silver band, nothing fancy. No runes; it's completely plain. He's wearing it on his right hand ring finger. Where are you guys?"

"Can't tell you that, kid." The voice replied. "Just in case, you know?"

"I got it, I got it," Ryl sighed. "No one trusts me. I got you this far in the first place, but still no one trusts me." He sighed again in joking exaggeration.

"Your job's done, Ryl. Either get out of there or stay, it doesn't matter. Just don't screw up our part in this plan and we're all good."

"Yeah," Ryl replied, grinning. "I won't." He removed the earrings, replacing them with the original pair, and tossed them back into the trunk. After which, Ryl snatched up the rune-engraved spear resting beside the room's entrance and threw open the door. "And now it's time to play my part," he laughed.