Concept Contributed by: Angelbot
As Merlins tale continues, he and his reluctant companion Rigel are trapped in a cavernous Goblin dungeon, with a choice of seven tunnels
leading down into the darkness...
'Which way do you think we should go? Rigel asked me.
'I move that we see whats behind Door Number One, I answered.
'Yeah, but which end are you counting from? says Rigel.
'The right end, of course, says I.
'Well, I vote in favor of starting on the left.
'What for? They look the same.
'If you think so, then why are you arguing with me?
'Whos started it? You just have to be contrary, dont you?
Rigel gave me a smug-looking leer and replied, If you want to go your own way, so be it. Only Im the one wearing the Cloak of Visibility.
I bit my tongue. Give some lads a bit of power and dont they throw it around! So we started down the first tunnel on the left, Rigel
looking at me with a satisfied smirk now and then, as if hoping I would burst out into arguing with him again. The tunnel just kept goin' on
and on, mostly downhill, curving this way and that, and partially blocked by an occasional cave-in. But for the most part, it all looked the
same. No other tunnels crossed our path, there was nothing interesting to see or hear, and after a while we felt as if we had been walking
down that tunnel all our lives.
It might have been an hour; it might have been a day. We sat down, footsore and a bit dull from the feeling of not getting anywhere, and
Rigel rummaged in his pocket-universe storage locker for a bite to eat. He found a plate of cheese-and-pickle tea sandwiches and a jug of
butterbeer, which with uncharacteristic kindness he started to share with me. But when we put the plate down on the floor between us, the
sandwiches suddenly grew legs and ran away. A moment later the flask pinched Rigels hand, and he dropped it with a startled cry. Instead of
shattering on the floor, it landed on its own pair of feet and scampered off the other direction. We watched our meal go without making any
effort to stop it. Then we just stared at each other in the dim light that seemed to come from nowhere, all around Rigel.
'At least a rest will do us some good, I said, as Rigels face came over with a giving-up look.
'Dont move, Rigel croaked, as if telling me something very confidential.
'Thats what I was just saying, I snapped. I dont plan on taking another step without a nap.
'I mean, dont move because theres something crawling next to your leg.
I looked down and saw not just one something, but a whole crowd of somethings scurrying towards us through the darkness. The first few had
already started to climb my robes. The more I saw of them, the less I liked. They had too many spindly little legs, and long waving antennae
on their heads. Their bodies had a shriveled look, like prunes, and their faces were dominated by a trumpet-shaped proboscis ringed with
vicious-looking, hook-like hairs. A group of them paused as if studying the upward slope of my robes, preparing to climb up my chest.
'Fearless little critters, arent they? I said calmly, for Rigel looked like he needed encouraging even more than before. I expect
theyre what walked off with our dinner.
'No, said Rigel. Our dinner walked off by itself. I could tell--the legs were made of pickle. No doubt theres something leaking magic in
my pocket-locker. Besides, Ive seen these little wretches before. They dont steal food; they steal air.
'Well, theres plenty to go around, I said, trying to conceal a nervous shudder as a nonchalant chuckle. I dont see what harm they can
'I mean, Rigel said, looking as desperate as I ever saw him, I mean they steal the breath right out of your mouth. It isnt the air they
want; they can breathe just like you or I. Its your life theyre after.
'Oh, I said. Well, in that case...
Forgetting my exhaustion, I jumped to my feet, gave my robes a vicious shake with one hand, dragged Rigel up with the other, and ran for
dear life after the sandwiches (which we never caught) but away from the breath-ants. But we had only run about a hundred yards when we
stumbled out of the end of a tunnel into a huge gallery. Even in our terror and confusion, it didnt take us long to realize it was the
gallery with seven tunnels coming out of itand we had come out of the same tunnel we had gone in.
"That isnt possible, Rigel panted. We went straight in, and there were no forks in the way. It cant have gone full-circle. So how can
we come out the same way we went in?
'When we ran from the breath-ants, I wheezed, we must have doubled back the way we came.
'I dont know, said Rigel, looking doubtful. Even so, it took it much longer to get to where we sat down than to get back here.
I shrugged. Only a wizard who had lived a very sheltered life would be as upset as Rigel was. After all, Gringotts is a magical place! Just
the same, we paced out the whole gallery again, to make sure it was the same place we had been before. Then we tried the second tunnel from
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