TGL Volume 4, Chapter 21 (1)

Mommy is reading Durandal’s memories. I don’t like him; he’s a big meanie! No one ever picked me up like that before. He even used me as a shield against Mommy! When I grow up and become big and strong, I’m going to lift him up like he lifted me, and I’m going to, um, I’m going to lock him up in Auntie Ilya’s dungeon! That’s the meanest punishment I know. Everyone locked up inside of Auntie Ilya’s dungeon looks so miserable. Um, I want Durandal to feel that way too!

“Auntie Ilya, when I’m older, can I use your dungeons?”

Auntie Ilya’s corpse puppet turned to look at me. I don’t like her puppets. They don’t blink, and sometimes their eyeballs don’t look at me. Um, when their mouths drop open, they don’t close them either. “You want to use my dungeons for what? Hide and seek?”

“Hide and seek? What’s that?”

“You’ve never played hide and seek before?” Auntie Ilya’s corpse puppet asked. “That’s odd. Maybe Lucia and Softie never wanted to let you out of their sight, but if that’s the case, why do they always dump you onto me?”

“They don’t dump me onto you.” The way Auntie Ilya says it, it’s like my mommies don’t want to see me, but they do! “I like it here and ask them to bring me to you.”

Auntie Ilya’s corpse puppet sighed. It looked at Mommy and Durandal. They were still in the same position. Durandal was sitting, and Mommy was holding his head with one hand like she was picking up an egg from above. “Hide and seek is a survival exercise used to teach children how to select hiding spots in case a dangerous beast is hunting them. At the same time, it is an exercise used by raiders to teach their kids how to find hidden gold and jewelry.”

A survival exercise…. “Exercises are fun! Teach me!”

Auntie Ilya’s corpse puppet stared at me. I really don’t like them. I can’t tell what they’re thinking at all! The real Auntie Ilya is still too busy cutting apart a body. I don’t know how she can do two things at once. Um, no, she does more than two things! She does, like, ten things at once, or maybe even twenty things. “You’re supposed to not want to play hide and seek after I made it sound as boring as possible,” Auntie Ilya’s corpse puppet said. “Alright, here are the rules. There’s a hider and a seeker. The hider wants to hide from the seeker, and the seeker wants to find the hider. You hide somewhere. I’ll give you ten minutes to find a hiding spot.”

Um? “But when does it end?”

“It ends when I find you or when I give up. I’ll message you through the messenger if I believe I can’t find you.”

“Alright!” This sounds fun! “Where can I hide? Anywhere?”

“Yep, anywhere you want,” Auntie Ilya’s corpse puppet said. “Well, anywhere in the Holy Righteous Sect. You’re not allowed to go into the door in the sky above your mom’s head. In fact, you’re not allowed to go into any glowing door, tunnel, or passage. Actually, if you get lost and in the very low off chance I don’t find you, your mom will murder me, so let’s keep it even simpler. You’re only allowed to hide somewhere on my property. Any other questions?”

Um…. Oh! “Do I get a prize for winning?”

“You want a prize?” Auntie Ilya’s corpse puppet asked. “Yeah. I’ll give you a cookie. How does that sound?”

I think Auntie Ilya was going to give me a cookie even if we didn’t play, but I don’t mind. A cookie is a cookie! “Okay! I’m hiding now. You’re not allowed to peek!” Where should I hide? Inside of Auntie Ilya’s dungeons? Um, no, she says that’s a good place to play hide and seek. She’ll look for me there first! I have ten minutes to find somewhere to hide. Auntie Ilya will think I’m going to use all ten minutes to find a good spot. If I find a spot really close by, she’ll never think to search for me there. Um, there’s a box right here. What’s inside of it? …Why are there so many potatoes in here? It’s still a good hiding spot. I’ll move some potatoes into my interspacial ring; there, now there’s enough space for me. Now I’ll wait here until Auntie Ilya surrenders.

This is a little boring.

I think ten minutes are up. Auntie Ilya should be looking for me now. I’ll press my ear to the top of the box; I’ll hear better that way. Um, I have to move slowly and be as quiet as possible. I think I hear footsteps. Only Auntie Ilya would be walking around. She doesn’t have any servants. I know some elders have servants who do everything for them. I asked Mommy why we didn’t have any servants, and Mommy said they were dangerous and could poison me. I asked Auntie Ilya why she didn’t have any servants, and she said everyone quits after a day of working for her, so she stopped bothering.

The footsteps are gone. I knew it. I fooled Auntie Ilya! She thinks I’m somewhere far away. Auntie Ilya told me she didn’t know everything. I didn’t really believe her, but now I do. Even Auntie Ilya can be tricked. …Am I smarter than her?

A long time passed. I’m getting a little bored. The messenger isn’t lighting up. Um, it’s dark in here, and it smells like potatoes. I like the smell of potatoes. They smell very … potatoey. It’s a little warm too, very comfy. I think I’ll hide potatoes under my bed to sleep on; they’re very lumpy. The lumpiness is nice. Um, I’m getting a little sleepy. It’s only dinner time, so how come I’m sleepy? I like staying up late; I shouldn’t be tired….

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