One day, as the great gate of Mithar was open, and its market of commerce was busy, an old man met a young boy. The boy asked of the scared face, limping man, “Sir, what do they do in the lighthouse tower?”
Because he was an old man with a limp he tired easily and sat down on a nearby stool. The old man answered with a question, “What is your name boy?”
He promptly replied, Josiah, the second born son of Barmathen of Sinjar, sir.”
The old man smiled, “Well, Josiah of Sinjar, what do you think of the Tower?”
Josiah thought for a moment then said, “I do not know sir, other than people seem changed once they leave.”
The old man sat up, looking puzzled, “How so?”
The boy struggled to find the right words to express his confusion, “They seem – not the same. Like they are made to yearn for more of whatever they see there. Then, they never join their old lives beyond these walls again. They are forbidden to speak of what happened to them and how they changed.”
The old man smiled, “I suppose some changes in a person’s life, Josiah of Sinjar cannot be expressed but must be experienced.”
The boy wondered, “Change?”
The seated old man continued, “We all change, in a different way, Josiah. Can one really lay a finger on the very moment when the world changed for them? We all yearn for something – more. Deeper understanding?”
Again, the visitor inquired for more, “Deeper understanding – of what?”
The old man rubbed his hurting leg, “See, even now are you beginning to yearn for more, hungering for the light.” He looked at the tower steps and pointed, “Do you see the guard, there? Go and ask to be let in and that it was I who instructed you, boy. Return to me tomorrow when the market gate opens again.”
The excited boy gave the old man a smile for talking with him. Through the busy crowds gathered about the city gate, Josiah made his way through the curving streets of Mithar to the very steps of the great lighthouse tower. He breathlessly climbed the many steps till at last, he landed upon the wide porch above.
The small boy found two tower guards, Legandriel and Nuthcorlan standing behind their great leaf shield. Each was stone-faced, silent and wielding a pike ax. They guarded the enormous iron-braced doors of Varlendur.
Josiah looked from one to the other and spoke, “I spoke to an old man with a limp near the statued gate, he said all I had to do was but ask and I could gain entrance.”
One of the mighty warriors asked, “Password?”
The boy was frozen, stunned and silenced. He had no password to give and slowly made his way down the lonely steps.
Another boy sat on the steps crying to himself as Josiah continued past him, “I cannot get in either, I must not even try.”
Mithar’s market attracted people from Lindol, Slavath, Sinjar, Kathos all eager to trade. Everyone came to share their crafts and bounty of food and clothing. The city gate was where news of the day was heard and passed on as validated truth. The market was only opened for four hours a day; two before and two after the noon hour, and then the great gates were ordered shut by the King himself.
The boy arrived early as he had been ushered out beyond the walls after being refused by the tower guards the day before, at closing time. When Josiah found the old man, just inside the open gate he asked, “You did not give me a password, why sir?”
The old man was quiet.
Josiah asked, “Sir, what is your name?”
The old man replied, “Sal’Gilvan.”
Smiling, the boy asked, “Gilvan, sir, what is ‘deeper-understanding’?”
Sal’Gilvan replied, looking at the boy in the eyes, “Outward people may never appreciate someone’s inward knowledge, my boy.”
Josiah looked about at all the people beneath the tent-booths bartering their goods for coins. He asked Gilvan, “Sir, how do I gain –this- deeper understanding?”
Again Gilvan took a seat as his leg caused him much pain. “You begin by reading the Book of Books! For it contains the accurate knowledge of deeper understanding. But, only if one rightly discerns its hidden passages in the true light, then shall it become open before you. For even the holiest of ancient relics, The Scroll and Box of Seariphim, there are foreshadowed mysteries yet to be revealed to us.”
The boy felt lost or blind to what the old man was trying to teach him; nevertheless, he listened, wondering about the words he used and admiring his wisdom.
Sal’Gilvan saw the boy pondering and asked, “Josiah, second son of Barmathen from Sinjar, are you ready to begin your journey?”
Josiah said, “Yes!”
Then, standing from his seat the old man told the boy, “Go to the tower guard and ask to begin, when he desires a word from you, you must say: ‘Servant’s heart’.” Limping away the scared face old man disappeared among the crowds.
Running from that place as fast as he could, through the busy people, and curved streets Josiah once again made his way up the height tower stairs. He remembered the crying boy and did not want to be one. At the porch, before the solemn guards, Josiah said, “I am here to begin my journey.”
After a long silence, one of the guards asked the boy, “What kind of word would a child like you offer up so as to pass these great doors?”
Josiah thought about how the question had been phrased, and then he answered, “Servant’s heart.”
After another long silence, the guard let their weapons cross over one another. Barring his way through the tower’s oaken doors they responded as with one voice, “All things should begin that way. Be gone, and return in one hour.”
The smile of the boy fell away. Stunned, the child wondered at what he had done or said wrong. Slowly he receded back down the lonely stairs. All the while he was thinking and most puzzled. At the bottom of the steps children pointed at him and laughed, as he approached, they ran off playing their hoop games.
Quietly making his way to the great statued gates of Mithar, the boy found the old man once again, sitting all alone. Josiah stood before Sal’Gilvan as he sat on his stool in the market and asked of him, “Sir, why was I refused, when I did just as you instructed me?”
Still thinking he did something wrong, Gilvan answered the boy while he looked beyond the open city gate out onto the plains of Eriduah, and said with some hope, “Surely the password was changed, that one is correct I assure you, for you must tell no one. That is your first promise to keep! For it seems they are changed all the time, your first learned leason.”
Josiah answered, “That must be it. I have a servant’s heart sir, and I am most willing to learn.” Gilvan perceived strength in young Josiah and thought in his heart the boy would indeed do well and progress far.
Sal’Gilvan looked proud, “God be with you. Good, good. Now, when you see the guard again you must place both of your arms down by your side, and when asked a second time for a token word, say, ‘Steadfast’ – yes that is it!” Gilvan turned and began talking to a young woman buying flowers and a beaded necklace from a cart-seller.
A second time that day did the boy Josiah make his way through the crowed city streets of Mithar and found his place atop the porched tower. High above the bell tolled the second hour of market. Looking down upon the small boy, Legandriel asked, “Password?”
Standing to his full height, and quickly slapping both hand to his sides the boy called out with great pride, “Steadfast!”
After another even long silence the second guard, Nuthcorlan pronounced, without bothering to look down, “We should all be consistent about of Lord’s service. Be gone, and return in one hour.”
Josiah’s heart sank where he stood. He tried his best not to show that he was devastated, but was instead contemplating the phrase and word, and his actions as he again slowly went down the many steps of the gray tower. Through the bartering, busy, laughing crowds that were all unaware of his plight he we went. The boy knew the time for buying and selling would be over in two hours and the day would be gone soon. Soon he found the old man again. This time he had moved to the other side of the main gate. It seemed to the boy that the scared faced old man was a beggar as the passersby were dropping coins at his feet.
Josiah asked Sal’Gilvan at a third time, “Sir, if you know for sure how I may learn wisdom for those of the Tower of Strong Friends [for that indeed is the meaning of the word Varlendur]; please, what must I do correctly to gain this - understanding?”
With large eyes and a broad smile, Gilvan answered, “You are indeed well on your way already young master!” Then, giving the boy a coin that had been tossed at his feet, Gilvan added, “Stand before the guards as you were before, only this time bow your head while offering this, you must say, nothing but ‘humble’.”
Taking the coin without question Josiah slowly made his way back as before, the bazaar’s swarm of visitors. They did not live behind the walls of Mithar but only exchanged goods and news of the day. As Josiah arrived at the foot of the 144 steps of the high tower, another boy raced down, crying and dropping a copper coin landing near Josiah’s feet. In that moment, Josiah looked at the coin in his hand for the first time. It was gold with an emblem of the Watchtower upon it face and the back with a winged ship. Hope rose up in the boy’s heart again, maybe it was a good sign he thought to himself. Then he raced to the oaken door’s porch.
Stepping up to Varlendur’s two sentries for the third time that day, the small boy in his appointed place and time. Before the King’s silent men, Josiah did just as he had been instructed by the old man by the ancient gate. He bowed his head with both hands by his side.
This time the two guards spoke in unison, “You have a token by which to pass?”
After a long silence of his own, with both hands by his side, and head bowed, Josiah handed them the coin; with a clear voice he answered, “Humbled.”
Legandriel replied, “Your servant’s heart kept you steadfast, and humble to continue upon your path. You may enter.” He pounded twice and then a third time on the great iron-braced door. Silence followed. Then King’s door slowly opened inward.