A well-nigh enfinity column moved along the twining paths of the Labyrinth. In the late afternoon, when the head of the column reached the Ivory Tower, the last stragglers had barely entered the great flowering maze.
Bastian could not have wished for a more festive reception. On every roof and battlement stood elves with gleaming trumpets, blaring away at the top of their lungs. The jugglers juggled, the astrologers proclaimed Bastian’s greatness and good fortune, the bakers baked cakes as big as mountains, the ministers and councilors escorted the coral litter through the teeming crowd on the High Street, which wound in an ever-narrowing spiral up the conical tower to the great gate leading into the palace. Followed by Xayide and the dignitaries, Bastian climbed the snow-white steps of the broad stairway, traversed halls and corridors, passed through a second gate, through a garden full of ivory animals, trees, and flowers, mounted higher and higher, crossed a bridge, and passed through the last gate. He was heading for the Magnolia Pavilion at the very top of the tower. But the blossom was closed and the last stretch of the way was so steep and smooth that no one could climb it.