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Artifice: Episode One

”Um,” repeated John for the third time, still a little unsure what was occurring. “How do I
do that?”
The creature’s expression changed to what looked like one of slight amusement.
Reassured a little by the almost human joke, John nervously chuckled and murmured to
himself, “I guess that would be logical. Well, as logical as listening to a dragon in my closet.
Still, it’s a more intriguing prospect than going out in that weather, and besides, I doubt I’ll ever
get an offer like this again.”
While a bit shaken by the whole experience, he nevertheless tried to regain his wits. John
took a deep breath, and before he could raise any self doubts as to what he was about to do, took
a step forward.
“Hopefully, seeing dragons and hobos inside your closet isn’t the first sign of brain
damage,” he silently muttered to himself, as he took those final few steps forward – and,
simultaneously, braced himself and covered his face with a hand against the possibility that he
might simply be hallucinating and walking blindly into the rear closet wall.
There was a sudden tingling that shot through his body as he stepped through, and his hair
felt like it was standing on end. But, upon completing the transition with the next step, the odd
feeling disappeared as quickly as it had occurred.
The man was speaking to him, but the words were gibbe rish to his ears. Sensing his
incomprehension, the man turned and appeared to pose a question to the somewhat small dragon.
In response to whatever the dragon had replied, he walked over to a cupboard and took out a
long, silver coloured box and three long rods.
-Sit-, he heard, as the dragon beckoned to a nearby chair.
He sat, and watched as the man attached the rods to the bottom of the box in the form of a
tripod. Looking more closely, the box itself couldn’t really be used as a box, as it had an open
end on each side.
More of a miniature tunnel than a box, John thought.
Satisfied with his work, the man picked up the strange contraption, brought it over, and
placed it with an open end pointed towards John.
-Hand-, came the dragon’s voice, as the man pointed to the end closest to John, then to
John’s hand.
A trifle hesitant, but still curious, he placed his hand in the box and realized that there were
tiny grooves on the inside in the rough shape of a palm. Fitting his hand on the pattern, he waited
and watched as the man pulled up a chair opposite John and also sat down. The man then
unclasped a small silver pin from the lapel of what appeared to be his bathrobe and placed it
carefully on top of his end of the box.
John took a glance at the pin and saw it had a design of what appeared to be a leaf. Very
pretty, he thought, but the whole contraption made even less sense now.
Satisfied with the placement of the pin, the man then started to turn what John had
previously assumed to be raised decals at the side o f the box. After about half a minute of
seemingly random adjustments, the man then placed his hand into his end of the box, closed his
eyes and sat back.