The Granters

Glad you could join us for the next indecisive episode of Elliot’s Adventures. If you’re new here, you can catch up by returning to the beginning, and reading really fast…

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Photo credit: Igor Siwanowicz

Someone in the dining hall closed the door behind them. Elliot wore the dark on his back like a hooded coat, pushing himself to keep his face within the sphere of lantern light. The further they descended, the closer the walls seemed to lean in until the deepest chamber beneath the Tower of Honor opened around them with the moist aroma of fungus gently touched by fresh air.

Mushroom lights sprouted from cracks in walls that gleamed like black glass, and poked their heads up randomly from loamy patches in the floor. Non-glowing fungi, taller and woodier, stood like posts and platforms scattered over harder ground. Two of those held the room’s only other occupants. Four eyes glistened in the newly golden glow.

“This is Elliot,” the First Combat Master announced. “These are the Granters — they grant many requests, but tonight they will decide if you are a worthy recipient.”

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A Downward Spiral

Glad you could join us for the next descending episode of Elliot’s Adventures. If you’re new here, you can catch up by returning to the beginning, and reading really fast…

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Photo credit: Irish UE

All eyes followed them as First Combat Master Vladimir the Just escorted Elliot the length of the dining hall to a square door recessed into the wall facing the High Priestess’ table. Only half the height of any other door in the Tower, its lock fought valiantly against the key Master Vlad inserted, in a vain attempt to keep the secret it guarded.

Its heavy planks dragged open on hinges rusty from neglect and disuse, the door’s screeching protest pierced all ears and overpowered all pained gasps as the Master revealed a dark opening at the top of a stairway to blackness.

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First Combat Master Vladimir the Just

Glad you could join us for the next actual episode of Elliot’s Adventures. If you’re new here, you can catch up by returning to the beginning, and reading really fast…

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Photo credit: Carlos del Pico

In the second deepest chamber beneath the Tower of Honor, an expansive room carved out of porous white stone, the residents gathered to confer, converse, and dine. Organic lighting spread cheer with its impression of sunny windows.

As the High Priestess entered, everyone — hundreds, Elliot estimated — stood. Acknowledging them with a nod, she led him to a laden table on the raised dais at one end of the hall, then turned to the waiting diners.

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Portrait of First Combat Master

Glad you could join us for the next artistic episode of Elliot’s Adventures. If you’re new here, you can catch up by returning to the beginning, and reading really fast…

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Photo credit: Keresztelo

Wasp nests, honeycombs, mantis egg masses — symmetry wasn’t new to Elliot. But the alien nature of this arched room overwhelmed his ability to imagine its creator.

“Speechless?” the High Priestess asked.

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Sunset Cavern

Glad you could join us for the next sunlit episode of Elliot’s Adventures. If you’re new here, you can catch up by returning to the beginning, and reading really fast…

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Photo credit: Learnphotography

To Elliot’s great relief, the ancient priestess’s heart did not explode. Step after step, gasp after gasp, rest after breathless rest, she made it to the top. Standing with her eyes closed in light filtered green through the trees, her shoulders heaved with each ragged inhalation.

“You’re right,” Elliot said, “it’s marvelous.” Watching her ravaged breathing, he added, “I could just stand here and soak it in for hours.”

But it took only a few minutes for the High Priestess to recover.

“What do you see here?” she asked as they followed the emerald light being pushed by the spreading carpet of approaching night.

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Tower of Honor

Glad you could join us for the next historical episode of Elliot’s Adventures. If you’re new here, you can catch up by returning to the beginning, and reading really fast…

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Photo credit: David Steinmann

The hallway they entered was taller, but narrower than the one Elliot had come in through. Familiar with mushroom glow and the winking flicker of fireflies, he couldn’t explain the lighting until he saw it close up. Do they wander? he wondered to himself, vowing not to sleep while he was here.

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Janesse

Glad you could join us for the next enigmatic episode of Elliot’s Adventures. If you’re new here, you can catch up by returning to the beginning, and reading really fast…

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Photo credit: Neil Wade

Elliot’s eyes narrowed. “How do you know my name?”

“Good news still travels to the heart of the Ancient Forest.”

“Good news?”

“Yes. We’ve been expecting you,” the High Priestess confided as she limped down the steps to hunch before him.

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