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most complicated equations, craft the most aesthetic carvings, build the most
ingenious of contraptions. This insult stung, however, partly because it was the one
thing he feared being seen as, but also, deep in some inner sanctum of the
unconscious, because he suspected it was true. Idiocy takes many forms, and can
affect anyone. One in five people suffer from dandruff, one in four suffer from idiocy.
Ambrosius suffered from both. He was not yet consciously aware of this, but perhaps
he will learn about this later on in our story.
Such thoughts aside, Ambrosius had work to do and, whilst it was now dark
outside save for the pale, ghostly light of a waning Xiphias, he saw no reason not to
make an immediate start. He went in to the corner of the room and pulled a clot h off
something dusty and neglected on the floor. Anyone who has ever gone fishing will
be familiar with what lay underneath. The Box of Things. The Box of Things is a
miraculous contrivance. It is a box, medium sized and unassuming, whose lid opens
out to reveal many compartments. According to the usual laws of space and time such
a large number of compartments should not normally be allowed to fit into such a
box. Such laws are made to be broken. In each compartment there is a different
trinket, more or less related to the art of fishing.
Ambrosius opened the lid and peered through the gloom at the objects that were lit
by the pale lunacy of Xiphias. In the first box was a small bobbin, hopelessly and
irretrievably tangled with line. In the second box was a spinner, cast of iridescent
silver which caught the light and sent it sparkling back. In the third box was a
selection of hooks, covered in the red flaky Rust Fungus that is the primary
decomposer of dead Hooktrees. In the fourth box was something entirely
unidentifiable. In the fifth box were some dessicated maggots. These, as well as many
more miscellanea in many, many more boxes, are all the usual contents of the Box of
Things.
Ambrosius shut the lid, clicked down the fastenings, and carried the box outside.
Now it is true that Ambrosius had always been a hopeless Fisher, but this is not to say
that he was bad at preparing to fish. He had, in fact, become quite good at it in his
youth. People had commented that, even with the best set-up in Expiscor, Ambrosius
still couldn't catch a fish. He could still remember the preparation process perfectly,
and he commenced them now with a look of determined concentration on his face. He
set the Box down on the bough, taking a knife out and sticking it in his be lt as he did
so. He went back into the shack, returning in a couple of seconds with a short length
of rope attached to a harness. Lying down flat on the bough with both arms round it,
he passed the rope underneath the bough and tied a sturdy knot in the bo ttom. He got
into the harness, testing the strength of the rope by pulling on it a couple of times.
Then, taking a deep breath, our brave hero stepped off the side of the bough. His
stomach jumped as he fell and was left dangling a couple of feet below the branch,
looking up at the underside. Regaining his composure and taking the knife from his
belt, Ambrosius started to carve a straight line across the girth of the bough so that it
formed a U-shape which terminated at the end of his reach. He repeated this process
many times, sliding his rope and harness along the branch to get to fresh areas of the
branch, until a good ten metres of the branch were banded with U-shaped cuts. This
took him until midnight.
He then heaved himself up the rope and clambered back onto the branch. Untying
the rope, Ambrosius took the harness back into his shack and left it in the corner
where it had rested for so long. He walked back out onto the branch and found the
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