Tinker Page 6

You are a traveling tinker, leading your pack mule through the forest. Branches criss-cross the path so much that you walk continuously in shade. Ferns and moss carpet the forest floor. The day is peaceful.

You are half a day from Bobeck village. You've traveled this route many times, to Frankfurt and back to Dresden again.

2) Take the left path to a meadow.
3) Take the right path to a creek.

You enjoy your lunch by a babbling creek, watching little fish dart in a calm bit of water. You gradually notice the croaking of toads has joined the sound of running water. One, two, three, you count the toads as you locate them. Eight, nine, it's funny how many you can find once you look carefully.

When you reach twelve it is a king among toads, easily four times the size of the others. It hops forward as you watch until it is directly in front of you. It croaks and drops a golden ring from its mouth, not two inches from the toe of your boot.

6) Pick up the golden ring.
7) Leave the ring where it is.

You reach down and pick up the ring. It has the look and weight of real gold. As you examine it, the toad croaks again and drops a human finger onto the ground. Is the toad larger than it was? It is six times the size of its brethren. You feel frozen in place with your hand clenched around the ring. The toad, which is plainly larger now, croaks a third time and drops the rest of the hand at your feet.

12) Throw the ring as far away as you can.
13) Stomp on the toad.