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Deal 1267: Battle over dreams

The child sleeps peacefully, but after what must have been a significant battle with the bedclothes and the monster under the bed. The monster lies, slain for tonight, on the floor. A fierce teddy bear stands guard against its possible return to life. Some of the other stuffed animals were casualties of the battle.

She sleeps now, illuminated only by moonlight filtered by the tree outside her window.

Reading the evidence at hand, we can see that earlier the tree had been a focus of her alarm as its shadows loomed large and its branches moved threateningly in the wind. That emboldened the monster under the bed, which attempted to catch her while her attention was on the monsters outside the window. The monsters in the closet might have been involved, their door was ajar, but had retreated when Teddy took action.

A breeze outside rustles the leaves.

She mumbles something unintelligible.

Teddy turns and watches for a moment, but remains alert and on guard.

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Deal 1251: Drake

The wood table sat in a room panelled in knotty pine that, once upon a time, had been whitewashed. Now it was merely an ashen grey, with occasional blotches where a knot must sit. Not that it mattered much, as the room was fairly dim, aside from an oil lamp burning on a shelf on the wall, and a larger oil lantern on the table. From the smell, the lights were burning whale oil. It left a distinctive funk in the air that was difficult to ignore.

The ceiling and floor were mostly lost in the shadows, as were several windows in the wall. It might have been twilight outside, but the windows were clogged by cobwebs and dust on the inside, and overgrown by long-dead vines punctuated by the occasional abandoned bird’s nest on the outside, making them useless as sources of light, as well as uninteresting in the background.

The table itself was kept surprisingly clean and neat. In addition to two lanterns shedding warm yellow light, it held two wicker (or willow branch) baskets. These were well-worn and frayed. Missing and broken twigs added an aura of age and authenticity to their presence. The baskets held various nuts and roots, dried after several seasons in the root cellar, along with a (hopefully) recently killed drake, still wearing most of its feathers. A mallard drake, to be precise, its green chest contrasting the orange carrots and white parsnips nicely, while a spray of lavender in the background had faded enough to be barely recognized and lost all scent, not that it could compete with the whale funk that permeated the room.

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Deal 1243: Philosophy

Change is inevitable in life.

The very act of living is a continuous transformation from nothing to nothing, with a brief sojourn as something in between.

We must embrace this transformation in order to leave a mark of our own on the world, and on others as they too pass briefly through your present day.

And yet, we must remain humble. Our stay in the present is brief. We barely matter at all to the Universe.

The other side is unknowable. We come from nothingness, and we inevitably return to nothingness. To assume otherwise is the pinnacle of hubris.

Live your life in your own brief present humble before the universe and certain in your knowledge that your stay is brief.