The colour of burnt almonds, with white-enamelled hooves, and fully eight feet tall: a centaur was galloping through the forest. His name was Valis. Alone and afraid, his powerful equine flanks shone, his close-curled greying chest hair sticky with the journey’s sweat. Was he really going to do this? The instructions for his task came from the highest authority imaginable. Even so, his heart almost froze thinking about what he was about to attempt.
Shivering with fear, he slowed to a canter. Here was the place. An empty spot between two enormous frelk trees. The gateway – unused for over three thousand years – stood invisibly in front of him.
All he had to do now was work out how to open it ...