Guide to Moral Living in Examples: Baskets

Lucretia entered the Realm of the Damned. Skulls lined the walls, lashed to a latticework of iron by strands of catgut, still dripping with rotten blood. A chill wind blew down the corridor. The skulls clattered together, bone against bone, swinging in the air, their death rattle echoing into the blackness that stretched before and behind Lucretia.

A fog hid the ground, which felt uneven beneath her thin boots. It would swirl in the wake of unseen things, slithering against the cuffs of her boots. She stumbled, once, and a skeletal hand rose out of the mist to help keep her upright.

The corridor ended in a set of blackened, obsidian doors. They reflected her terrified face back at her as she extended one shaking fist to rap against the stone. Her knuckles nearly froze solid as they touched the door.

Gliding on silent hinges, the doors swung open to reveal a swirling vortex of flame.

"MORTAL. THIS PLACE IS NOT FOR YOU," said a voice.

"I-I-I was wondering if you could keep it down," Lucretia said between chattering teeth.

"PARDON ME?"

"The wails and screams of the eternally cursed are fine during the day, but, uh, it's very loud when I'm trying to sleep."

"WHERE DO YOU LIVE?"

"At the edge of the Numindo Forest. I just moved in."

"OH. RIGHT. HUNH. THAT COTTAGE HAS BEEN EMPTY FOR AGES, WE GOT USED TO THAT. NICE TO MEET YOU NEIGHBOR. SORRY ABOUT THE TROUBLE. WE INTEND TO TORMENT THE DAMNED, NOT OUR NEIGHBORS. PLEASE, DON'T HESITATE TO LET US KNOW IF IT HAPPENS AGAIN."

The blood drained from Lucretia's head and she collapsed into the mist. She awoke in the soft grass before her cottage, confused. A tasteful wicker basket set next to her, filled with expensive cheese and wine, with a card written in thin, whippy script that said "welcome to the neighborhood."

The Moral: passing out is more pleasant than walking back through the Fetid Swamp of a Thousand Odors.

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