Prologue – The Compass
The news spread like wildfire in the city: „A master of the colors is on his deathbed! Should no successor be found, the colors may well disappear for ever from the face of the Earth!“
Ben, of course, knew the legend of the temple of the colors. Everybody knew it. His aunt had told it to him when he was a child: The temple was throwning high above the clouds – and its roof! This was a work of art! The most beautiful ever created by man. Three grandmasters of the colors were allegedly living there, defending the world day by day, night by night against a sinister threat. Naturally nobody knew this precisely, since only very few had verified informations at their command – and they preferred to be silent about them.
Ben smiled about such fairy tales. They were no more than fantasies of the simple people who were longing for a greater, more beautiful reality. In any case they had nothing to do with his life.
A baking heat prevailed in the streets, the traffic had come to an almost complete standstill. Everybody who was not out of his mind would have stayed at home. Walking was limited to the absolute minimum necessary. Ben had slept fitfully and dreamt about the fountain at the market place. Again and again the image had appeared to him. He had not been able to find any rest. Nothing helped. Therefore, he dragged on through the dust-dry noontime air that was blowing towards him like a hairdryer.
When he reached the empty market place he looked around. The large place seemed to be completely deserted, only a small twinkle animated the scene. At the fountain something clearly sparkled and glittered, as if somebody was sitting there with a small mirror and intended to blind him. He had to take a closer look at this.
Some kind of an object as big as a fist was resting at the edge of the fountain. A piece of precious metal with a small embedded glass pane was sticking out from a leather case that was shimmering in brownish colors in the sun. Under the disk a bronze needle was rotating.
„This is your compass, Ben.‟
The voice had come out of nowhere. Behind him stood a crooked shape Ben got a terrible fright and swirled around. An old man with a scuffed cloak, inconspicuous and dirty.
„Who are you? Where do you know my name from“, Ben asked.
„From listening.‟ The old man displayed a toothless smile. „Don’t you want to take it?‟
In bafflement Ben reached after the compass. When he touched it he felt a pleasant sense of anticipation. It shot through him like a mild electric shock. Immediately he pulled back his hand.
„I know that feeling‟, he old man said. „This ist he call of the colors, my boy.‟
„The what?‟, Ben asked, even though he had understood very clearly.
The old man’s face took a serious expression. „You have a task now.‟
Ben had to swallow a few times. „Is it true what people are telling? The temple? The masters?‟
„Each and every word‟, the old man said and grinned again. „Or let’s better say: every second word. You are one of the aspirants. The compass will lead you to the colors. Collect them and prove you are worthy.“
„Collect?“, Ben asked and glanced helplessly at the rotating needle.
„Prove I am worthy? How …?‟
When he looked up, the old man had disappeared. As suddenly as he had come.
Hesitantly Ben allowed the compass to slide into his pocket.
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