Inside the casket is a flute carved out of ivory. It is in the shape of a very slender and elongated man, with no head upon his shoulders but rather a long, thin tube for a mouthpiece. <<set $open_chests = $open_chests + $casket>> <<set $casket = 0>> <<if $open_chests gte 5>> <<set $seen_things = "yes">> <<set $end_key = $end_key + 1>> <<endif>>\n\n[[Attempt to play the flute|Flute]]\n[[Look at the other chests|Chests]]
In the hide chest you find garments made of foxfur and snakeskin and an unusual spongy leather. <<set $open_chests = $open_chests + $hide>> <<set $hide = 0>> <<if $open_chests gte 5>> <<set $seen_things = "yes">> <<set $end_key = $end_key + 1>> <<endif>>\n\n[[Look at the other chests|Chests]]
You shift the chair to the left. It's still stuck.\n\n[[Shift the chair up|Up]]\n[[Shift the chair down|Falsedown]]\n[[Shift the chair left|Falseleft]]\n[[Shift the chair right|Falseright]]\n[[Give up|Furniture]]\n
To your right, the crates are piled one atop the other, and no small number of them appear to be damp and rotting. Most of the crates on the bottom have been squashed under the weight of those on top, causing the towers to lean at angles against each other. Even as you watch, one of the towers shifts and wobbles slightly. You hear a faint hissing sound.\n\nTo your left, the crates are clean and dry and stacked in a more orderly fashion. Beside them rests a table holding an array of jars and other sealed containers.\n\n[[Examine the rotting crates|Cans]]\n[[Examine the other crates|Crates]]\n[[Examine the containers|Containers]]\n[[Withdraw from this area|Hub]]
The oak chest is full of arrows. To you they seem ceremonial, not made to be shot from a bow. Some are nearly three feet long, others no more than the length of your little finger. Some of them have curious patterns of notches down their shafts. <<set $open_chests = $open_chests + $oak>> <<set $oak = 0>> <<if $open_chests gte 5>> <<set $seen_things = "yes">> <<set $end_key = $end_key + 1>> <<endif>>\n\n[[Look at the other chests|Chests]]
The sound the flute produces is a high and distant atonal wail, like the cry of something that is lost and dying very far from its home. \n\nThere is no wholesome music to be made from such a sound. You replace the flute in its casket and close the lid. <<set $despair = $despair + $flute>> <<set $flute = 0>>\n\n[[Put the flute back|Chests]]
You lift one crate off its stack. The contents are unevenly distributed; the weight is unbalanced. You set it down on the ground.\n\nIt's filled with small statues, some nearly a foot high and carved of heavy stone, others merely a few inches tall and made of wood and bone. The largest statue is of a man on horseback. His head is strangely elongated, as though made of pliable clay that giant hands had pinched at the temples and tugged upwards. <<set $end_key = $end_key + 1>>\n\nThe next two statues, about the length of your hand, are of lions. They are identical. The lion's forepaw rests upon what looks to be a wagon wheel with six bent spokes. <<set $seen_idols = "yes">> \n\nNearly all of the other statues depict what appears to be a plucked chicken. You find your face contracting in remembered pain as you examine these, and stroke your cheek as though expecting to find there a wound to soothe.\n\nYou have a sudden impulse to throw one of the chicken statues on the ground and stomp on it, but you dare not.\n\n[[Walk away|Hub]]
Welcome to The Storage Cellar. \n\n[[Click here to begin.|Begin]]
Resting alongside the wall near the furniture is a slim black case with brass clasps. How did you not see it before? \n\n<<if $despair gte $hope>> [[Open the case|Despair]] <<endif>>\n<<if $hope gt $despair>> [[Open the case|Hope]] <<endif>>
What do you want to do?\n\n<<if $try_oil eq "no">>[[Pour out a bit of the golden oil|Oil]]<<endif>>\n<<if $try_salve eq "no">>[[Dip your finger in the gray salve|Salve]]<<endif>>\n<<if $try_cream eq "no">>[[Scoop up some of the fluffy white cream|Cream]]<<endif>>\n<<if $try_sand eq "no">>[[Touch the black sand|Sand]]<<endif>>\n[[Cease this experimentation|Cease]]
A few paces, feeling along the walls, confirms that the shadowy recess is the entrance to a narrow hallway. You walk several meters into the darkness, then freeze. A long-fingered hand has come to rest, gently but firmly, upon your shoulder.\n\n<html><i>Hadn't you ought to turn back around?</i> a voice whispers, very quietly, very close to your ear. <i>You haven't yet finished what you came here for.</i></html>\n\nThe hand lifts away. You turn around, knowing that you will find no-one there behind you, and return to the storage cellar. <<set $seen_exit = "yes">> <<set $despair = $despair + 1>>\n\n[[Back you go.|Hub]]
The shelves have been packed to hold as many books as the space will allow, and sag under the weight. You wonder if they might collapse entirely if you were to so much as touch them. \n\nThe sight of books seems familiar to you, even comforting, but right now you could not name a single one you have read.\n\n[[Examine the books|Books]]\n[[Withdraw from this area|Hub]]
There are four racks, each of which has spaces to hold about two dozen implements. Most of them, however, are less than half-filled. A few baskets stand between the racks, but from here you cannot see what is inside them. \n\nThe objects in the racks seem to be both impractical to be tools and too unwieldy to be weapons. \n\n[[Examine the baskets|Baskets]]\n[[Examine the racks|Racks]]\n[[Withdraw from this area|Hub]]
The baskets are full of jagged metal objects of various sizes and shapes.\n\n[[Pick up one of the jagged metal things|Caltrops]]\n[[Examine the racks|Racks]]\n[[Depart|Depart]]
While everything else in this cellar appears to have been put away with something approximating care and organization, the furniture is piled in a dense, haphazard jumble. Taken as a whole, you can see identifiable parts of tables, chairs, and couches, but your eyes cannot seem to isolate any single piece of furniture from the chaotic mass before you. \n\nTo the right of the furniture agglomerate stand several stacks of boxes.\n\n[[Examine the furniture pile|Furniture]]\n[[Examine the boxes|Boxes]]
Dozens of glass and ceramic vessels sit upon a long trestle table here. Some are barely larger than your thumb, others are bigger than your head. Most have lids and stoppers that are sealed with wax, but a few were opened at some point in their past and were not resealed: a glass decanter full of golden oil; a glazed ceramic pot with traces of a thick, musky-smelling gray salve at the bottom; a clay jar half-filled with fluffy white cream; and a quart-sized glass jar containing about an inch of what looks like wet, coarse-grained black sand.\n\n[[Experiment with the substances in the open containers|Experiment]]\n[[Leave it all alone and step away|Hub]]
Biting your lip, you close your eyes and strain hard to recall who you are, where you are, and why you are here. Half-formed ideas slide around the periphery of your mind. You have an identity, and this place has a name, and there is a greater purpose to this, but those details are unimportant now. You were sent down here to find something, that is all that seems certain. <<set $remember = "yes">>\n\n<<if $look = "no">>[[Look around|Look]]<<endif>>\n<<if $cried = "no">>[[Cry for help|Help]]<<endif>>\n[[Search the area|Ready]]
You shift the chair downwards. It's still stuck.\n\nA muffled snap sounds from deep within the pile.\n\n[[Shift the chair up|Up]]\n[[Shift the chair down|Falsedown]]\n[[Shift the chair left|Left]]\n[[Shift the chair right|Falseright]]\n[[Give up|Furniture]]
<<silently>>\n<<set $look = "no">>\n<<set $cried = "no">>\n<<set $remember = "no">>\n<<set $seen_man = "no">>\n<<set $seen_weapons = "no">>\n<<set $seen_food = "no">>\n<<set $seen_idols = "no">>\n<<set $seen_jars = "no">>\n<<set $seen_chairs = "no">>\n<<set $seen_papers = "no">>\n<<set $seen_things = "no">>\n<<set $seen_books = "no">>\n<<set $seen_exit = "no">>\n<<set $try_oil = "no">>\n<<set $try_salve = "no">>\n<<set $try_cream = "no">>\n<<set $try_sand = "no">>\n<<set $open_chests = 0>>\n<<set $food = 1>>\n<<set $cedar = 1>>\n<<set $oak = 1>>\n<<set $hide = 1>>\n<<set $pressboard = 1>>\n<<set $casket = 1>>\n<<set $knight = 1>>\n<<set $flute = 1>>\n<<set $hope = 0>>\n<<set $despair = 0>>\n<<set $end_key = 0>>\n<<endsilently>>\nYou sway on your feet, jerk upright with a start, nearly dropping the small clay oil lamp you hold in your left hand. Your mind seems to have fled you for a moment. Or longer? How long have you been down here? You are inside a dark cellar of indeterminate size. The ceiling is low, only inches from your head. In the dim lamplight you can see boxes and crates in leaning, half-collapsed stacks all around you. You know vaguely that you have been sent down here for some purpose -- to find something, you're fairly certain -- but you can remember nothing more specific than that.\n\n[[Look around|Look]]\n[[Cry for help|Help]]\n[[Search your memories|Remember]]
You pour a small measure of oil into your palm. Your flesh absorbs it with a rapidity you had not expected. You see a glimmer of red at the edge of your vision, and jerk your head around. \n\nThere are luminescent red spiderwebs woven all about the cellar, everywhere. You pass your hand through one close to you. It is no illusion; the web comes apart at your touch, streaming from your fingers. As you brush it off, it begins to fade. You can no longer see the red spiderwebs. But you know they are there. <<set $try_oil = "yes">> \n\n[[Try something else...|Experiment]]
To your right stand a number of large barrels. There are empty and broken ones strewn about. To your left are row upon row of wooden racks holding long poles topped with forks and hooks and curiously-shaped blades. \n\nYou hear something, a thin whistle or whine.\n\n[[Check out the barrels|Barrels]]\n[[Check out the racks of tools or weapons, whatever they are|Armory]]
You stand in an empty space in the middle of the cellar, near to where you regained your awareness earlier. Where do you want to go from here?\n\n<<print $end_key>>\n\n<<if $seen_man eq "no">>[[The barrels at the far corner|Barrels]]<<endif>>\n<<if $seen_weapons eq "no">>[[The tool racks at the other far corner|Armory]]<<endif>>\n<<if $seen_food eq "no">>[[The towers of rotting and collapsing crates near the barrels|Cans]]<<endif>>\n<<if $seen_idols eq "no">>[[The crates that aren't quite so rotted out|Crates]]<<endif>>\n<<if $seen_jars eq "no">>[[The shelves of glass and ceramic jars|Containers]]<<endif>>\n<<if $seen_chairs eq "no">>[[The heap of furniture|Furniture]]<<endif>>\n<<if $seen_papers eq "no">>[[The stacked boxes at the near corner|Boxes]]<<endif>>\n<<if $seen_things eq "no">>[[The chests at the near corner|Chests]]<<endif>>\n<<if $seen_books eq "no">>[[The bookshelves|Library]]<<endif>>\n<<if $seen_exit eq "no">>[[The dark space at the near end of the cellar|Exit]]<<endif>>\n\n\n\n\n<<if $end_key gte 9>>[[The black case propped against the wall, that you did not see before|Secret]]<<endif>>
You grasp the chair by the leg sticking out of the pile. The foot is carved in the shape of a many-toed claw grasping a prostate figure. \n\n[[Shift the chair up|Up]]\n[[Shift the chair down|Falsedown]]\n[[Shift the chair left|Falseleft]]\n[[Shift the chair right|Falseright]]\n[[Forget it...|Furniture]]
Your lamp is a poor source of light, and your eyes cannot focus on the small, dense black print inside the book you have selected. The next one is no better. You set the lamp down on the edge of one shelf to try a third book. When you open this one, a small grey moth flits out of it. You watch it as it flies about your head, then circles the lamp a few times before alighting beside the flame. \n\nA second later it takes off again, and you realize with a small shock of horror that the moth itself is aflame. It flies burning into the darkness behind you, and then it is no more. \n\nYou are sad for the moth. <<set $hope = $hope + 1>>\n\n[[Set the book down and walk away|Hub]]
"Hey there -- hello," you say, your voice faltering slightly. The figure in the corner does not stir. You try again, a little louder. "Hey -- can you hear me?"\n\nThere is no reply at all.\n\n[[Approach the person in the corner|Man]]\n[[Withdraw from this area|Withdraw]]
You shift the chair downwards. It's still stuck.\n\n[[Shift the chair up|Up]]\n[[Shift the chair down|Falsedown]]\n[[Shift the chair left|Falseleft]]\n[[Shift the chair right|Falseright]]\n[[Give up|Furniture]]\n
You open up a box and find folders of paper inside. The sheets are all filled with a dense and thready handwritten script. There's no chance of you being able to read it; you can't even be sure what alphabet it's written in. You check inside another box and find more of the same. \n\nAs you put away the last sheaf of paper, your eye lingers on it for a moment. Subtly but unmistakably, the lines of the script are pulsing like veins. <<set $end_key = $end_key + 1>> <<set $seen_papers = "yes">> \n\n[[Look elsewhere|Hub]]
The cedar chest contains various sorts of games: a folding chessboard with squares made of stained hide. Tall chesspieces formed of melted and broken metal. Polished bone dominos with more dots than seem correct for dominos. Polyhedral dice colored yellow, red, blue, and black. <<set $open_chests = $open_chests + $cedar>> <<set $cedar = 0>> <<if $open_chests gte 5>> <<set $seen_things = "yes">> <<set $end_key = $end_key + 1>> <<endif>>\n\n[[Look at the other chests|Chests]]
Kneeling, you undo the clasps and open the case.\n\nFolded tightly inside is a rough cloth woven from some coarse fibrous material. There are a few beads and metallic scales woven into the visible portion.\n\n[[Remove the cloth|Tapestry]]
You wind the knight's mechanism and set it on the ground. It drops to its knees, lays its sword and shield down, and touches its forehead to the ground in a gesture of supplication. It rises again and repeats this action once more before winding down. <<set $hope = $hope + $knight>> <<set $knight = 0>>\n\n[[Put the knight back|Chests]]
The Storage Cellar
You walk between the racks, studying some of the implements they hold. A pole mounted with an inverted omega shape with sharp teeth pointed inwards. A two-pronged fork of solid iron. A curved machete carved from bone, so long and thin you suspect it would snap in half if you were to lift it over your head. A stout mace or hammer with a twelve-sided head.\n\n[[Examine the baskets|Baskets]]\n[[Depart|Depart]]
The man seems unwell. You decide it would be best to leave him be. <<set $end_key = $end_key + 1>> <<set $seen_man = "yes">> \n\n[[Return to the middle of the cellar|Hub]]
You approach carefully, holding the lamp out in front of your face. In the corner stands a man. He is shorter than you; his head is not so close to the ceiling. He is naked, which causes you to reflect on the fact that you are as well, but this swiftly registers an unremarkable detail and you let the thought pass. His skin is pasty white and hangs slack on his frame, his hair is white and matted. His mouth is open slightly and he seems dumbstruck or insensate, but his eyes flicker over to the lamp, and then to you. His head twitches.\n\n[[Speak to him|Speak]]\n[[Jostle him|Touch]]\n[[Strike him|Slap]]\n[[Leave him alone|Retreat]]
Peering down the far end of the cellar, you see large wooden barrels in one corner and racks holding implements that could either be garden tools or weaponry in the other. Stacked floor-to-ceiling near you are wooden crates and boxes, some of which are rotted and sagging. A great cluttered mass of furniture fills the area to your right. Behind you are yet more boxes. Looking to the near end, you see a table set with numerous glass and ceramic jars, several large chests, a pair of bookshelves, and a dark recess where the shadows seem blacker than elsewhere in the cellar. <<set $look = "yes">>\n\n<<if $cried = "no">>[[Cry for help|Help]]<<endif>>\n<<if $remember = "no">>[[Search your memories|Remember]]<<endif>>\n[[Search the area|Ready]]
As soon as you rest your weight upon the chair a vertiginous spike of unease runs up your spine, rooting you to the seat. This is not your chair. This chair was never for you or anyone like you. Your transgression is so great that you want to weep, but your body cannot remember how to do this. Pitching forward, you hand on your arms and knees and after one last throb of deep regret, the feeling passes from you. Shoving the chair back against the pile, you try not to think about what just happened. <<set $despair = $despair + 1>>\n\n[[Leave|Hub]]
You shift the chair to the right. It's still stuck.\n\n[[Shift the chair up|Up]]\n[[Shift the chair down|Falsedown]]\n[[Shift the chair left|Falseleft]]\n[[Shift the chair right|Falseright]]\n[[Give up|Furniture]]
<<if $try_oil eq "no">>You dip your finger in the salve. It smells like wet earth, not unpleasantly. You rub it into the back of your hand and lift your finger away. There is a small gray spider where you rubbed the salve. It darts back and forth on your hand for a moment, then hops off. You cannot see where it went.<<endif>>\n\n<<if $try_oil eq "yes">>You dip your finger in the salve. Not unpleasantly, it smells like wet earth. You rub it into the palm of your hand. Instantly, a veil falls over your consciousness and you feel your mind spinning off into a dream. You are a charioteer, coursing across the skies in a great thundercloud. Lightning forms the spokes of your wheels. Your horses are wind and rain. The chariot takes you to a great city, where you slip from the clouds in the form of a black cat, stalking across the rooftops and through the alleways, stealing the secrets of the women and men who live in the city. Then you are no longer a cat, you are a person again, old, very old, old and bent and toadlike, and you live in a small black house, and you abide there many years and then there are flashes of green and white light and red, long bright cords of red, pulling you down, down...your eyes snap open. The dream is over.<<set $hope = $hope + 1>> <<endif>>\n\n<<set $try_salve = "yes">> [[Try something else...|Experiment]]
You shift the chair upwards. It's still stuck.\n\n[[Shift the chair up|Up]]\n[[Shift the chair down|Down]]\n[[Shift the chair left|Falseleft]]\n[[Shift the chair right|Falseright]]\n[[Give up|Furniture]]
There must be something in here that will reveal your purpose or jog your recollections. You will have to search until you find it.\n\nThe lamp you hold emits a disquietingly savory odor.\n\n[[Search the far end of the cellar|North]]\n[[Search the area to your left|West]]\n[[Search the area to your right|East]]\n[[Search the near end of the cellar|South]]
You take a pinch of the black sand and rub it between your fingertips. To your grave and sudden dismay, the pads of your fingers become hard and brittle and begin to flake away. Immediately, you shake off the sand and gingerly blow away the grains that remain stuck.\n\nThere are deep scars in your fingertips now. <<set $try_sand = "yes">>\n\n[[Try something else...|Experiment]]
Kneeling, you undo the clasps and open the case.\n\nInside is a small roll of parchment and a silver scalpel. \n\n[[Unroll the parchment|Parchment]]
You pick up one of the swollen cans and slam it down hard against the ground. It bursts open in your hand, releasing a splash of liquid and a sickly vapor that stings your eyes and throat. \n\nYour stomach tightens into a knot and you realize, suddenly, that you are terribly hungry, that it has been hours, perhaps days since you last ate. You look inside the can and find a few slimy gray nodules sliding around in the remaining liquid. You eat them quickly, hardly even taking the time to chew, then knock open another swollen can to devour its contents, then another, and another... \n\nYou lose track of yourself again. When you come to, you are on your hands and knees before the crates, retching up what you have eaten. <<set $seen_food = "yes">> <<set $end_key = $end_key + $food>> <<set $despair = $despair + 1>> \n\n[[Stagger away from the crates|Hub]]
You step back cautiously, watching the figure in the corner. It does not move. You return to the clearing in the center of the cellar to recollect yourself.\n\n[[Contemplate your next move|Hub]]
Facing the near end of the cellar, there are a few chests both large and small in the corner to your right, and shelves crammed full of books to your left. Between them there seems to be a darkened recess, perhaps a passageway, but the shadows that conceal it seem somehow unnatural. \n\n[[Check out the chests in the corner|Chests]]\n[[Check out the bookshelves|Library]]\n[[Walk into the darkened recess|Exit]]
You shift the chair to the left. It's still stuck.\n\nYou hear a quiet susurrating sound, as though a quantity of tiny beads had been poured on top of the furniture pile and was slowly cascading down inside it.\n\n[[Shift the chair up|Up]]\n[[Shift the chair down|Falsedown]]\n[[Shift the chair left|Falseleft]]\n[[Shift the chair right|Right]]\n[[Give up|Furniture]]\n
There are dark stains on some of the barrels. <html><i>Wine,</i></html> your mind offers, and the idea of wine seems to fit in some way, but you remember that wine has a smell, and that smell is not present here. Taking a closer look at the nearest barrel, you see a small image stenciled on the lid in black paint: a hollow outline of a human figure with a comma-shaped glpyh in its belly.\n\nYou blink and raise your head. There it was again, that sound. A choked whisper. And now you see it: there is a person standing very still in the corner of the cellar, behind the barrels. \n\n[[Say something|Converse]]\n[[Approach the person in the corner|Man]]\n[[Withdraw from this area|Hub]]
You shift the chair to the right. It comes loose. <<set $end_key = $end_key + 1>>\n\nWith a groan and several splintering cracks, the furniture mass shifts and settles before you. You look at the chair you freed. It's larger than it seemed when it was stuck inside the pile, and darker in color, too. Pale inlays on the backrest form a pattern that resembles a labyrinth, or a face, depending on the angle. <<set $seen_chairs = "yes">>\n\nYou set the chair down on the ground. It's definitely a face now. \n\n[[Sit in the chair|Sit]]\n[[You're done here...|Hub]]
In the lamplight, the tool-heads cast bizarre and vicious-looking shadows against the wall. You no longer wish to be in the presence of these objects. <<set $seen_weapons = "yes">> <<set $end_key = $end_key + 1>>\n\n[[Return to the middle of the cellar|Hub]]
"Hello!" you cry out. "Is anyone there? Where am I? Help!"\n\nThe acoustics of the cellar seem to leach all the volume and insistence out of your cries. In any case, nobody answers. <<set $cried = "yes">>\n\n<<if $look = "no">>[[Look around|Look]]<<endif>>\n<<if $remember = "no">>[[Search your memories|Remember]]<<endif>>\n[[Search the area|Ready]]
You pick a chunk of earthen detrius off the ground and toss it into the pile. \n\n[[Nothing happens.|Furniture]]\n
The pressboard chest is full of clockwork toys, many of which appear to be broken or deliberately smashed: chariots, siege engines, winged things. One intact wind-up knight with a sword and shield rests on top of the pile. <<set $open_chests = $open_chests + $pressboard>> <<set $pressboard = 0>> <<if $open_chests gte 5>> <<set $seen_things = "yes">> <<set $end_key = $end_key + 1>> <<endif>>\n\n[[Wind up the toy knight|Knight]]\n[[Look at the other chests|Chests]]
You walk up to the man and give him a quick, firm slap to the side of his face. His eyes flash wide and he gasps, then immediately he sinks to his haunches and begins to weep.\n\n"I'm sorry," he murmurs. "I'm sorry. I can't. I'm sorry." He repeats these words several times, then lets out a loud, strangled sob and goes silent again. <<set $despair = $despair + 1>>\n\n[[You have unconsciously taken several steps back in pity and revulsion. Clearly, this man can do nothing for you.|Retreat]]
There are several chests here, and on top of the largest one, a tiny casket of polished ebony.\n\n[[Open the cedar chest|Cedar]]\n[[Open the oak chest|Oak]]\n[[Open the hidebound chest|Hide]]\n[[Open the pressboard chest|Pressboard]]\n[[Open the tiny casket|Casket]]\n[[Withdraw from this area|Hub]]
You take one of the cans and walk it back to the racks of tools at the far end of the cellar. There you find a pitchfork, and drive the lid of the can forcefully against one of its tines. With the lid punctured, you can easily pry it off with your finger. <<set $seen_food = "yes">> <<set $end_key = $end_key + $food>> <<set $food = 0>>\n\nThere is a thick, chunky paste inside the can. It has a tangy, earthy smell that is not altogether disagreeable. You feel an odd compulsion to take some of it and place it in your mouth, but what would that accomplish? <<set $hope = $hope + 1>>\n\n[[Try to open a bulging can|Poison]]\n[[Withdraw from this area|Hub]]
You reach into the nearest basket to take a closer look at its contents. The metal is sharper than you could have guessed; you feel a pang of flesh being sliced and recoil. Holding the lamp close to your hand, you peer at the expected wound, but see nothing. Neither do you feel any lingering pain. <<set $despair = $despair + 1>>\n\n[[Depart|Depart]]
The books are bound in smooth, soft leather of varying hues. Nearly all of them are water-damaged or worm-eaten or otherwise compromised. The titles are embossed on the spines in black lettering. Most are in languages you don't recognize, but there are some you can read: \n\n<html><i>On the Cultivation and Maintenance of Wholesome Plants: A Treatise by Leonard<br><br>\n\nA Monograph for the Unlearned Concerning the Alchemical Composition of the Avernine Sea<br><br>\n\nWhat Folly is This? Selected Humorous Fragments<br><br>\n\nThe Book of Errors, volume IV (Profound Errors)\n</i></html>\n\nSeveral of the books have only complex, unsettling symbols for titles. <<set $end_key = $end_key + 1>> <<set $seen_books = "yes">>\n\n[[Try to read one of the books|Read]]\n[[Put the books back and look elsewhere|Hub]]
You suspect that no good can come from further ignorant dabbling with the contents of these vessels. <<set $seen_jars = "yes">> <<set $end_key = $end_key + 1>>\n\n[[Look elsewhere|Hub]]
A foul stench assails you as you draw close to the towers of rotting crates. Your stomach heaves, but it is a futile, symbolic gesture. There is nothing there to expel. Delicately, you remove one crate from the top of the nearest stack to see what it holds.\n\nThe crate is full of small, short cans. A few of them are swollen and bulging. There are pictures imprinted on the lids of the cans. A pigeon and an onion. A rat and a mushroom. A fish and a root. Three droplets and three seeds. \n\n[[Try to open a normal can|Food]]\n[[Try to open a bulging can|Poison]]\n[[Withdraw from this area|Hub]]
<<if $try_sand eq "no">>You take a dab of cream on your fingertips and smear it across the back of your forearm. Immediately, a cluster of ghostly white toadstools bloom where you spread the cream. Alarmed, you brush them off, and they wilt to nothing before they can fall to the ground. <<endif>>\n\n<<if $try_sand eq "yes">> You scoop up a bit of cream with your finger. A grotesque puff of tendrilled fungus blooms on the end of it. You shake it off, leaving a cloud of spores that make your eyes water and your sinuses hum and burn. \n\nA sharp ache begins to travel up your finger, into your, arm, and down into your chest. You have no choice but to sit and wait for it to pass down your spine and legs before it finally leaves you. \n\nOn the bright side, the scars in your fingertips seem to have healed. <<set $despair = $despair + 1>> <<endif>>\n\n<<set $try_cream = "yes">> [[Try something else...|Experiment]]
You take a few steps closer to the man, but he does not seem aware of your presence. Gingerly, you reach out and place your hand on his shoulder. Still no reaction. You give the man a gentle shake.\n\nThe man's eyes widen and he lets out a high-pitched shriek of mortal terror. His arms fly up to his face, knocking your hand away. He slumps back against the wall, quivering and moaning unintelligible words. \n\n[[Stricken, you withdraw.|Retreat]]
prize bull octorok (@BullOctorok)
There is something uncanny about the way the furniture has settled into the tangled mass you see before you. Rather than seeming like the chaos of a pile thrown together at random, or disarranged by careless scavengers, the pieces seem interwoven according to some deranged logic, like the nest of an insect. \n\nYou stare at it, but still cannot see how you might separate it into its constituent pieces. At last, however, your eyes fix on a chair jutting out near the bottom of the pile.\n\n[[Try to dislodge the chair|Dislodge]]\n[[Throw a stone into the pile|Toss]]\n[[Step away from the furniture|Hub]]
You flatten out the scroll and read the words clearly printed in black ink, above a crude little drawing that reminds you of a chicken:\n\n<html><i>THAT WHICH YOU SOUGHT WAS INSIDE YOU ALL ALONG.</i></html>\n\nYour gaze falls upon the scalpel.\n\nMore than frightened, more than horrified, you are disappointed.\n\n<html><b>THE END.</b></html>
You unfold the cloth and spread it out on the floor.\n\nBeads and scales and colored threads draw a crude but vibrant scene upon the dull brown burlap: a figure clad in white with a disc of golden wire around his head, leading a procession of smaller figures, naked men and women, through a gateway in the shape of monstrous jaws. On the other side of the gate stands an angelic figure with black wings made up of real feathers, kneeling and facing away from the procession; before him, elevated, was the largest figure in the scene, larger even than the gate: a wasp or fly with blue-black scales that glittered iridescent in the lamplight, mother-of-pearl wings, huge round eyes made of thousands of onyx beads no bigger than pinheads, and a tall silver crown upon its head. \n\nYes: this is that which you had been sent to find. You remember now. The tapestry for the Procession of the Remembrance of the Harrowing.\n\nYou feel something in the pit of your stomach, a rare and wonderful effervescent sensation that you know to be relief. \n\n<html><b>THE END.</b></html>
"Hey," you say. "Are you all right? Can you hear me?"\n\nThe man says nothing, but gives a small nod of his head.\n\n"Can you understand me?"\n\nHe opens his mouth wider, then flinches, and begins to shake his head violently from side to side. He seems to be having a fit. Disturbed, you take a step back. Suddenly, he begins to speak. "It's not here," he says. There is a raw, ragged fear in his voice. "It's not here!"\n\n"What's not here?"\n\n"It's not! It's not!" He shakes his head again and lets out a long, despairing moan before becoming still and silent again. <<set $hope = $hope + 1>>\n\n[[You do not think this man can help you.|Retreat]]