Through the Bottom of the World: A Choose-your-own-Speed Run (Assistant’s Tool Stratagem)

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‘Assistant’s Tool’ Stratagem

(17:3:28:4:41:1.3)

Bombi’s fury had built for days, but she needed to control it.  Now that she had it, now that she was free of the melancholy of her old life, she could hold onto it.  It would still be there ten runs from now.  It would still be there if they had the world record, so she hopped down and made a lunge for the assistant’s tool rather than the Win Stater. Continue reading

Through the Bottom of the World: A Choose-your-own-Speed Run (Hieron Stratagem)

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‘Hieron’ Stratagem

(17:3:28:4:41:1.3)

            Hieron was moving.  He rolled to his knees and elbows and crawled out of the cell, towards the assistant’s tool.  Bombi leapt off the cot and out the open door.  She bounded to the wall, grabbed the hilt of her sword, and rushed back just as the man reached for the tool.  She grabbed him by the back of his shirt collar and pulled up. Continue reading

Through the Bottom of the World: A Choose-your-own-Speed Run (Astrolabe Stratagem)

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‘Astrolabe’ Stratagem

(17:3:22:11:38:6.6)

Bombi drew her seafoam sword and pointed it at the whispering rock of the shore.  She was at least familiar with that land; it would be easier for her to navigate and understand.  If she came face to face with lampworms or vagrants again, it could be handled.  Whatever knowledge they were after, it might help her understand Chagrinn.  If she could think like a speed runner she might not even need his stingy guidance anymore. Continue reading

Through the Bottom of the World: A Choose-your-own-Speed Run (Swarm Stratagem)

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‘Swarm’ Stratagem

(17:3:22:11:38:6.6)

Bombi drew her seafoam sword and pointed it at the amber boulder.  Monsters were surely dangerous, but Bombi could appreciate open danger.  The monsters of her old life had insisted on the illusions of comfort and civilization.  The amber swarm would respect her by baring nothing but teeth. Continue reading

Through the Bottom of the World: A Choose-your-own-Speed Run (Back-Dash Stratagem)

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‘Back-Dash’ Stratagem

(17:3:22:8:30:14.7)

If she didn’t learn to go faster she would always be baggage to Chagrinn.  She was a paperweight or a coatrack, something to hold down switches or hold onto items so the real speed runner would have his hands free.  The stuttering back-dash meant she could keep up with him. Continue reading

Through the Bottom of the World: A Choose-your-own-Speedrun (Duplication Stratagem)

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‘Duplication’ Stratagem

(17:3:22:8:30:14.7)

“The world could always use more flowers,” she said, startled by her own sudden smile.  Smiling was so rare for the girl that a full earnest one felt like a paper cut across her face.  She suppressed a giggle.  It was clear by Chagrinn’s expression that her happiness made no difference to him, but the smile wasn’t for him anyway.  It was for the ability to make real choices.  She saw now that so many choices in her life had been false; if the options available weren’t equally valid, how was there a choice at all? Continue reading

Through the Bottom of the World: A Choose-your-own-Speed Run (Flickering Flame Stratagem)

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‘Flickering Flame’ Stratagem

(17:3:22:7:23:49.0)

There was something different about this nudge.  It was hot; it struck the inside of her sternum like a hot iron.  It promptly exploded into a blazing rage the likes of which she had never felt.  She’d been furious with Chagrinn for disrespecting her uncle’s body and pen, she’d hated her employers nearly constantly, but what burned inside her at that moment was animalistic.  She was a lion with a brilliant orange mane, roar and lick of flame identical in sound.  After seeing the seams of Shook and Cain she finally understood what the boundaries of her cage were.  She finally knew her back was against the corner and there was no choice left but to lash out. Continue reading

Through the Bottom of the World: A Choose-your-own-Speedrun (Seafoam Stratagem)

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‘Seafoam’ Stratagem

(17:3:22:7:23:49.0)

Bombi boldly walked backward.  Her feet hit water.  The bandits followed for a moment but stopped at the water’s edge.  Perhaps they’re afraid of bathing.  Bombi kept going.  She let the sharp cold of the seawater eat up her ankles.  Further and further she went until it seeped into the bottom of her clothes.  She was up to her knees.  Chagrinn gave her no clue as to how she could encourage the blade to take shape, so she made her best guess. Continue reading

Through the Bottom of the World: A Choose-your-own-Speedrun (Pen Destroyed Stratagem)

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‘Pen Destroyed’ Stratagem

(17:3:22:7:00:18.5)

Timorrow was the only one who wanted her to have a real life.  This new man, Chagrinn the speed runner, insisted there were no real lives to be had.  Logically, the realest one of all would be the one with the most defiance, the one that cursed the sky as well as the ground, the one that cursed parents as well as children. Continue reading