Part 6: “Wishes Again”

This is the final section.

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Part 1 can be found here, Part 2 can be found here, Part 3 can be found here, Part 4 can be found here, and Part 5 can be found here.

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The next morning was a difficult one for the tallest man. It was all he could do simply to rouse himself: the heavy layer of melancholy he had been living in seemed to have thickened overnight, leaving a leaden weight somewhere inside his chest. Nevertheless, he got up and had breakfast, loitering in his bedroom for a few minutes in hopes of figuring out a plan.

His wife surprised him by sitting up in bed.

“Where were you last night?” she asked.Image

The tallest man had barely spoken to her for weeks, and he was no longer used to it. He looked down and said nothing.

(Continued after the jump.)

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Part 5: “Back to the Stream”

(Haven’t had time lately to engage in the self-mockery that is Libby Drawing Pictures, so today’s segment will have a lovely photograph of autumn here instead. Pretend the leaves are by the stream. Or just pretend that I will re-post later and put a real picture in. :)

Part 1 can be found here, Part 2 can be found here, Part 3 can be found here and Part 4 can be found here.

***

The next morning, the tallest man’s wife was shocked to see her husband climbing out of bed, and more shocked still to see him wolfing down breakfast as though he hadn’t eaten in days (which, unfortunately, was close to the truth.) She started to ask him what had caused such a sudden change in his spirits, but he had dressed, washed and raced out the door before she could finish her sentence.

The baker and the miller’s daughter had kept the tallest man up-to-date as to his friends’ whereabouts, and so he knew where he could expect to find them. He decided to seek the shortest man first, and headed for the town square, where he saw him almost at once.

The shortest man was stretched out on a smooth stone bench, surrounded by giggling milkmaids. He seemed to be telling some grand, heroic story, and as the tallest man grew closer, he realized it was about the shortest man himself, and also that it was not true. A milkmaid with a dimple in her chin sat in his lap, while a milkmaid with a rounder shape and corkscrew curls wound her fingers through his hair. He did not shift his gaze as the tallest man approached.

“I have a message for you,” said the tallest man, feeling his knees quake from beneath him. He could see nothing of his old friend in the man that sat before him now, and he did not know how he would respond.

The shortest man tore his gaze from the milkmaids and stopped smiling abruptly.

“It is a message from the spirit of the stream,” continued the tallest man. “He asks that we meet him by the water this evening. He will transport us to the stream at the stroke of midnight, for he wants to ask us a question.”

(Continued after the jump.)

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