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Saleena swallowed. She had been staring up at the treacherous mountain for what seemed like hours. “We’ll camp here for the night, then start up in the morning.” Jax said, then seeing Saleena’s look of apprehension he added “Hey, don’t worry. With my brains and your swordplay, we can’t lose!” It was true, Saleena was a master at swordplay, but that wouldn’t help them climb a mountain.

¨.¨.¨.¨

The next morning dawned dark and cloudy. “Typical,” thought Saleena. Despite the foul weather Jax seemed to be in a cheerful mood. “With the clouds and darkness, they won’t expect us to be coming up the mountain!” he said. “Sure,” Saleena joined it, “We can surprise them!” Too bad she wasn’t as sure as she sounded! “I don’t know about surprise,” Jax said, “A decent sorcerer will have been observing our movements since we reached the base of the mountain. Still, we should have a bit of an advantage.” Well, that certainly didn’t make Saleena feel any better. She looked, almost unbelieving at her friend. Could this be the same clumsy boy she had looked at only a few day’s before? This didn’t look to her like a boy, but a man, very loyal to his people, strong, skillful, intelligent. She was very lucky to have him as her friend. The old man had been very wise indeed.

They started the trek up the mountain’s steep face. It was rough going for a girl who had led the easy, simple life of a princess. Her determination not to let down her friend, and to have the adventure she had always dreamed of, kept her going. After hours of treacherous climbing they reached the top. Saleena wad filthy, bruised, cut, and bleeding. Her hair was tangled and wind-blown. This was something completely new to her. She had had no idea life could be so difficult.

A monstrous fortress loomed before them. Tall, black walls surrounded the castle. “However will we scale those?” she asked, despair in her eyes. “Where there is a will, there is a way,” Jax replied. They walked around the entire fortress, a trek which took many hours, but found no way through the slick walls, save the massive doors at the front of the castle.