SELECTED SHADOWS 25

A high, imposing arch pierced the long frontage of the Academy; Kor-Sen stepped boldly under it and was making for the inner courtyard thus revealed, when a stern voice cried, ‘Hey! Where do you think you’re a-going of, without so much as please-may-I?’

Kor-Sen turned, and saw an indignant old man dressed in livery, who had just come out of a door set in the side-wall of the archway.

‘And who might you be, my crusty old friend?’

The porter’s face grew purple.  ‘None of your impudence!’ he spluttered. ‘You can’t come a-marching in here like you owned the place! This is the Academy of Drelk, this is, which I doubt you knew, young ragamuffin. And I am the porter on duty, and it is my job to ensure that none don’t get in here as has no business here. So! Either state your business – which I doubt you have any – or be off. ‘

Kor-Sen bowed, a deep and courtly bow that startled the porter and nearly overbalanced him.  ‘Most reverend keeper of the portals of learning, I am Kor-Sen, Scholar of the Temple of Jaren in the land of IssKor, come to bestow the benefit of my wisdom upon this humble establishment. My business is with the Convenor and the Council, and is, I submit, urgent. They will not thank you if you allow this opportunity to slip away, while you cavil on the doorstep. I might decide to endow my learning elsewhere.’

The porter’s confusion was deepened by this speech. He was further discomfited by the laughter of several students, men and women just a little younger than Kor-Sen, who, passing through the gateway, had stopped to watch the battle of wits.

‘Better let him in, Moran. Sounds as if he could tie the Convenor up in knots, let alone you.’

Kor-Sen bowed to the speaker, and winked at the women, who smiled at him.

Moran spluttered again, but then made up his mind. ‘Well, Aspirant Coren, if you would stay here and have an eye to this – person – I will go and enquire.’

DOOR OF DRELK ACADEMY

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