Welcome all, to the third day of the Week of the Ogre! Today we are trying out something new. This is the first part of a story we wrote, which ends in a cliffhanger. In this, you get to decide what happens next. At the end of the installment, you have three choices to what the character does next. Choose well, and enjoy!
Ander nestled himself more firmly into the soft grass, repositioning the book looming above him so that it eclipsed the bright glare of morning. Around him, the park jostled with activity, dogs barked, people talked, squirrels squealed at nuts, none of it interested Ander, his mind was firmly set on his book, 10oo Impressing Riddles.
He had bought it lately and had not let his eyes off it since then, usually he was reading it, and always he was holding it. Packed with riddles from at least a hundred different books, the volume had tested his mind for over a week, usually winning his desperate skirmishes of guesswork, but folding eventually under his onslaught of careful logic.
What he liked most about the book was that each riddle could give him a sample of the book it came from, a taste of the genre so that he could almost literally read a dozen books in a day.
Ander’s reverie was cut short by the scuffle of feet reverberating through the ground towards him; a posse of Frisbee players, flinging their disc to each other and quickly getting closer to Ander’s patch of solitude.
Grumbling like a arthritic housewife, Ander rolled to his feet and escaped into a small grove of pines away from the open ground, though still dazzled by the sunlight of the day. Finally getting out of earshot of the elephantine noises of the players, Ander looked around for a good spot to read.
Several meters ahead, he spotted a rocky hummock, like a bump on a needle-strewn head. Trotting to the tiny hill, Ander realized it was a cave mouth.
Crouching down he saw it went back several feet until it met a flat wall, forming a wide sort of bedroom for anyone imaginative enough to use it.
Crumpling to his knees, Ander, tucked his riddle book under his arm, rolled over, and shimmied himself into the spacious stone birth. Perfect, warm pine needles on his back, dim light seeping through the cave mouth to create a perfect reading lamp.
Raising 1000 Impressing Riddles above his head once again, Ander began the page.
Taken from the pages of Tolkien’s The Hobbit, the creature Gollum asks the hero Bilbo these riddles in a matching of wits far below the Misty Mountains.
What has roots as nobody sees,
Is taller than trees,
Up, up it goes,
And yet never grows?
Ander’s mind flicked from Gollum’s puzzle to the cave ceiling, where something his caught his attention. Twirling across the cave ceiling like a ribbon, deeply etched words were engraved in spirals across the ceiling.
Dropping the riddle book to his side Ander propped himself up on his elbows so to look better at the words.
It cannot be seen, cannot be felt,
Intrigued, Ander crawled farther into the cave, closer to the back wall where the words wove snakelike. Soon he could see the next curving line.
Cannot be heard, cannot be smelt.
It was a riddle, Ander realized, the couplet above him was unmistakably a word puzzle. But why was it on the ceiling of a cave. Maybe the rest of it would explain.
The next two lines were harder to decipher, as the light from outside was growing indistinct the farther he crawled. Ignoring this, he squinted upwards to read;
It lies behind stars and under hills,
Well that made sense, at least the ‘under hill’ part. This riddle seemed familiar; he looked to the next line.
And empty holes it fills.
What could fill an empty hole? Ander stored the four lines away, determined to finish the riddle. The next line stretched away, forcing him to shuffle his back farther into the cave.
It comes first and follows after,
As he read this line, something clicked in the back of his mind, but it still lay in the back, not yet fully formed. The cave did not go back much farther; the next line must be the last.
Scooting slightly farther in, he could just make out the final line.
Ends life, kills laughter.
Darkness. The answer suddenly flew to the fore front of his mind, at the same instant, his back crested a lip and with a cry of surprise, Ander hurtled downwards along a smooth dirt shoot, blackness clamped around him, and the sunlight was snuffed out, like a candle in the wind.
Alright, the story has started, the hanger has been cliffed, or whatever you call it. Now for the choices:
1: Ander lands in a tunnel, and meets a Riddle Ogre right off...
2: Ander comes to rest in the tunnel, and follows whispered voices into a complex of tunnels...
3: Ander slides into the tunnel, and takes stock of his situation, before going on...