I look back at my words written on paper, committed in ink and pulp, extending beyond me, a limb that reaches through time into another place. The hand that wrote them was steady and strong, unlike my own now. That’s why I only type these days. My hand is too weak too write legibly. My words and I, we have our own paths to follow. My days are few in number and there will come a day when even typing is too painful, when the words will mock me, remind me of a time when they and I were strong. My children, my words, may your days be plenty and full. Go strong into that place where I can’t follow.
He stared at the short straw in his hand while his face paled. Having the long straw in my own grasp I could only pretend to know what went through his mind at that moment: which would devastate him more, the prospect of losing his life, or losing his wife and children. Had it be me selected by lottery to witness the king’s passing from this life into the next, I would like to think protecting my family would come first, but having come so close to having to make the choice, I could not fault my friend and neighbor who now stood beside me, his life entwined in the diminished reed, the reality of his task emptying the life from his eyes, leaving only panic and the desire to flee.
All that are left are the scars on his hands, well earned, from wrestling with angels. The story is told that he bested them all, but the truth is angels never lose, the merely acquiesce. In this place, at this time, the angels have yet to return, and many say they never will. Some hope that the rumors are true, while others are content to go their way, picking at the harvest before the deep snows of winter bury them all.
For his part, he cares not who judges him, and he expresses no regrets. He would do it all again, so he says if you ask him. To walk as a giant in the unseen world, to challenge those who rule, seems worth the loss of autumn. Three seasons are left, by his reckoning, and more than enough for us.
The last thing you do is drop rat. It’s on fire, so you don’t need it any more. But remember where you leave it because that marks the exit. Don’t leave yet. You have seven more room to investigate to find the lost key. You can’t leave without the key.
Right before you drop the rat make sure you have the bag of sugar. The ants love sugar and you can use the sugar to bribe the ants. They can do crazy things like tunnel through the mortar between the bricks to make doorways that weren’t there before, and you can send out a pair to scout each room before you enter. When the work in pairs they are less susceptible to getting off task. Ants are prone to wander when left on their own.
Most monsters will ignore the ants, except for the giant fire-breathing anteater, which is how the rat caught on fire. Did I mention the fire extinguisher? If you brought it, put out the rat. If you don’t have it, go back and get it. We’ll need it when we meet the anteater again.
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