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Deal 1004: Waiting

I’m passing time writing by candlelight in the depths of my cave. The tiny flame casts constantly moving shadows on the walls around me. They catch my attention and distract from the work I am trying to do.

I’d write in the daylight, but I have limited time in this place. I must achieve my goals and move on. Each time I reach this point I feel like I’ve done this before, but I must emerge eventually back into the light of day and rejoin the world. Until then, I sit in the darkness and write, pen scratching as it threads its way across the pages. 

It is a long and slow wait. In the distance I hear water dripping. I can count my heartbeats between drips. I can count the drips. I can hear that tangible evidence of time passing. And yet, I am stuck in this pool of flickering light and the perception that all time is stopped outside its reach.

I hear the occasional noise that reminds me that my primary defense here is the difficulty of finding this cave. Surely it has served other creatures as a refuge, but when I entered it aeons ago or just recently there was no recent sign. 

The reach of the light remains limited to just more than an armspan. Aside from the pen and a penkife I have little defense other than my fingernails. Those won’t serve me. Next time I find myself in this cage, I should plan to be better prepared.

But there aren’t that many that can find this cave in the first place, and fewer who can enter it. Those, such as I, are rare birds indeed. Spending some time in a gilded cage would seem fitting.

So I return to my notes on the study of the human condition, and wait for the time to be right to emerge and conduct another round of observation and interaction. Only time will tell where and when that will be. Time and the cave, but neither is speaking to me at the moment.

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Deal 991: Frog’s legs and tea

Let me introduce myself. I act as if I’m a prince among men, but I’ve always carried a secret shame. For I was once a prince among frogs.

Not in a wheel of karma and past lives sense. No, I literally was born a frog.

As a tad, I had little on my mind, other than survival. Life is brutal and short for most tadpoles. But I was one of the lucky few who survived to have legs. And I used those legs to escape that stagnant pond. For some time I moved from shelter to shelter, always aware of the risk of being eaten by some predator swooping down on me from above, or sneaking up on me from the shadows.

Then one day I was snatched from above, and my world changed.

I had a species change.

It might have been done with open eyes, it is difficult to be sure. I do know that I have difficulty recalling the time before I became a man. I’m not really even sure how old I was, but I must have lived several years as a tadpole and frog, as my transformation to human gave me the appearance of a young adult not a child.

That early time after the change is also just a blurry memory today. Aside from the fact that it was at least a score of years ago, it took some time for my mind to catch up with the change in my body. Surely, I was transformed from frog to man in one event. But that newly enlarged brain took some time to develop a full sense of self as a man.

Some of my earliest memories of that time include a helpful but shadowy figure, who I assume was involved in my change. From clues I have stumbled over since, I suspect she was a notorious crone of the hills, and that she passed away sometime after turning me loose upon the world to make my fortune. But she neglected to (or perhaps deliberately prevented) allow me many memories of my time with her. I don’t even know her name.

I fear I am merely a pawn in some game being played by the Fates, or among hedge witches.

While I think I have been wandering aimlessly, I may well be guided by unseen forces to put me in the path of a suitable princess. Although I may never know why this path was chosen.

So I find myself here today, at the festival before a castle.

And dare I notice that a princess is even now making her way toward me?

I think I ought to put on the tea.

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Deal 989: No town town

He was not a humble man, that much was obvious as he strode into town from the deep woods.

He stood six feet or more tall, slender, with long blond hair. The bow he carried was nearly as tall as he was. His quiver was empty, however. He walked steadily, as if accustomed to walking long distances.

This was a man who demanded attention. He drew the eye and held it.

His partner, however, was opposite in every way possible.

She was short. Short temper. Short hair. Short of breath. And clearly past the end of her patience for long walks. She carried a great battle axe strapped across her back, and clearly had the strength to use it. She also had no desire to be seen or noticed.

This couple was trouble incarnate. And my peaceful town was about to become the center of some chain of events that had followed them across the lands. Unless I took action to deflect it.

I acted alone, the need was too immediate to call for the others.

I cast the first stone in the pond, and muddled the reflection and by extension of my will, muddled what they saw.

If my will prevailed, they would not see the town spread out before them, and would walk on through, seeking shelter further along their trail.

This was the prudent thing to do.

It was not necessarily the right thing to do.

It was what I did.

As the town watched silently, they made their way through.

His confident strides missed every pothole, every small animal, every picket fence.

Her furtive pace nearly caught us out, but she was too intent on keeping up.

He held the attention of everyone as his tall bow and blond hair disappeared over the ridge and back into the deep woods.

I would pay for my actions tomorrow.

But for today, we remained safe and hidden.

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Deal 963: Cats and Pants

That trickster bird will be the death of me yet.

There was beer involved. Perhaps more beer than was reasonable, but it certainly seemed like a good idea at the time. Which might have been the bird’s influence. At least that is what I’d like to think.

Most of the time I’m too much of a gentleman to be tempted by this sort of thing. But this time I was vulnerable. Then the bird showed up and dropped some choice words in my ear. And like a fool, instead of running away from a talking bird, I listened. And then had another beer.

Then somehow it seemed logical to try the karaoke machine. That should have been a clue that there was already too much beer involved. Damn bird again, I suspect.

At some point it became urgent to find some privacy. And that is when the cat got involved. Next thing I knew, my pants were around my ankles, a cat was laughing at me, and I was tipping head first into the oubliette.

I always knew that somehow cats and pants would be my undoing.

I just never knew how. Or that some bird would be egging the cat on the whole time.