Tzar Boyanov clapped his hands once, loundly as to draw attention. He stood and walked to the hall, and back with his winter coat. "This coat is light for these lands are warm, but imagine the heavy wool and furs needed at the northern most reaches of the world. It’s important, for it is at the heart of the tale.
They say, that if you head north from Rus, by cart and sled, until lights dance in the sky and land turns to ice, you may find find the old road. It gleams in pearlescent turquoise, and the path is hard, for the stones are old and far spread. If you come in a party you will surely lose your way, for the road does not want to be hard trodden. One person may walk the road, wrapped tight against the gleaming shards of ice in the air.
The road heads to the pole star, and if you walk it long enough, you may go there. The road starts to wind through stones upthrust from beneath the ice crust, and yet, strangely shaped, as if totems or markers, purpose long forgotten. These long still monoliths have forms which hint, after years of smoothing, of some kind of figure, yet no details remain to remark upon. Continue walking.
Here the road judges you. Not through your actions, not through your coin, but a simple decision of when you chose to travel it. In summer, the sun is high, and the air chill. but clear. In winter, the land is dark with not a hint sun. The sky howls with hateful cold, but when the storms clear and the cold of space is lit by the northern lights you sill see two people, tall and strong, standing by the road in the thicket furs and heaviest wool. The snow drifts at their feet and ice rimes their furs.
They will walk away, follow.
They will take you up a ridge, keep climbing.
They will show you a plateau, observe.
They will speak. They will ask you questions, and this is the second judgement. Answer as fully as you can, with no falsehood, no manipulation, and no deciet. If the watchers judge you to have satisfied them, they will call a wind that scours the snow from the plateau.
A lid of ice, clear and perfect imprisons a valley of most verdant green, with mystical lights of blue, red and yellow dancing through it. What is in there? Where did it come from? Explainations are not given. The watchers will tell you nothing, and as the beauty overcomes you, you may weep frozen tears.
You are now changed. Do not place too much importance upon yourself. You were not the first and there will be others. There is something under the ice, changing, waiting, and when the world is right, it will emerge, like a butterfly from the chrysalis.
“Of course”, Tzar Boyanov concluded, “you might think this fantastical. And it is. It is a beautiful story. But not as beautiful as what had me picking tears from my beard.” He smiles, wistfully, lined face creasing easily. “Now, who is next?”