You have received the second of five jewels, have received a map of where to find the remaining three, and now choose to visit the lock in which, when all five jewels are obtained, will open. You return to the stream where you met the Forest Fettre. Within the gap in the gnarly roots of the nearest tree you find the small cave of made entirely of roots. There you see the lock. A carved wooden bust of an old man stares back at you. Around the statue’s neck is a ring of five pegs: each peg is shaped differently. A note is above the statue’s head:
The jewels you find
must all be put in simultaneously
or the lock will not work.
Collect all five jewels to
unlock this door and release me.
Well this was a waste of time, you think.
You crawl out of the gap, wade through the stream, and to dry land.
The bridge under which you passed originally is close by.
Most of the rangers and the police have left the area but a couple police officers are still lingering; the suspected kidnapper totally eluded them but they might try again at first light.
When you are almost to the bridge you see a bazaar sight: a strange figure in a brown leather cloak stands on top of the bridge in full view of the police officers. With guns raised they tell the figure to surrender but to no avail. In its gloved hands it holds a small boy; He is silent in his terror. The cloaked figure turns its hooded face toward you. A cruel metallic mask shines back at you. The hooded mask suddenly grins; still looking at you the figure jumps off the bridge. In the distance the child is heard crying anew to the sudden reports from the police officers’ guns.
In a flash of movement the figure evades the bullets and overpowers the cops. While still holding the boy, the figure looks at you. He cackles to himself as if you are no threat.
“Try as you might,” he says in a low voice through the mask, “You cannot kill the Messenger and you best not interfere with his business.”
He starts running toward the Labyrinthine Woods.
Two thoughts run through your head: rescue the boy, inspect the bridge to find the next jewel. Then another thought comes to you: why would the figure be standing on the bridge if he is not after the same jewels?
***This is the crossroads where paths are woven,
Now is the place of a road newly chosen. **