8th Rebirth, 56 FE
Vashti decides to go to the kitchen for bacon to make sure she’s not going crazy. She is served a big amount of bacon, and quickly verifies that it is as tasty as ever. The soggy piece she brought from the bacon monster still tastes of treesap.
Leila, still in the process of opening doors, meets Saldar on the hallway. He asks her if she has found a cure yet, which Leila declines. He then urges her to press on, and tells her that if he can answer any questions, or otherwise be of help, she just needs to ask. She then asks Saldar if he has a soul, and it is quickly revealed that he doesn’t; rather, he is a guardian spirit. They discuss guardian spirits and diseases briefly, after which Saldar departs. Leila tells some servants to open more doors, and then she returns to her room in the apartment to get back to studying the books.
GuUshal remains seated in the armchair for a couple of hours composing himself. Vashti then returns, and they decide to go out together. They turn right from the apartmemt, and into the next hallway. They hear a low pitched humming from the room at the end and decide to check it out. In the room they find a bed, a chest, a writing desk, a bookcase, and a chair. The room has a wooden floor. Since nothing seems out of place, GuUshal decides to go look out the window, while Vashti puts her ear to the floor, realizing that this is where the humming is coming from. GuUshal, now also aware of the sound’s origin, stomps the floor, thus getting one leg stuck. They both struggle for a while, getting more and more stuck in the process. In the end, GuUshal whacks the floor with his Megahammer, causing both of them to be launched downwards through the floor.
GuUshal and Vashti have been riding each a goat for around an hour. There’s a sand troll riding a goat in front of them. They’re riding a stone path, and there’s nothing around. Vashti asks the sand troll where they’re going, suggesting they might be lost. The sand troll says they’re going to the mill. Then they find themselves standing in front of a mill, the goats being nowhere in sight. The sand troll tells them they need to defeat the mill for him, not destroy it but defeat it. The sand troll goes inside and the others follow. The sand troll goes to a cupboard, fetches two sticks with hoops on one end and a fist sized ball. The sand troll hands them each a hoop, handing Vashti the ball. They all go back outside, where a game court has appeared, marked off by white paint, with a net separating it into two halves. The sand troll tries to explain the rules of hoopball, repeatedly complaining about them not knowing the rules already. GuUshal demonstrates the concept of warball.
The mill is standing in the middle of one side of the net, also being quite a bit smaller than it was before. It is now wielding hoops where its wings used to be. GuUshal complains that it has four hoops, to which the sand troll points out that it’s because being a mill is a natural disadvantage. GuUshal takes the ball and starts the game, hitting the ball to the far corner of the mill’s side. The mill, being a mill, fails to catch the ball. The sand troll gives the ball to the mill, which serves the ball, aiming for the ground right on the other side of the net, on GuUshal’s square. GuUshal, failing to realize the implications of him being the size of a sand troll, misses the ball. It is Vashti’s time to serve. GuUshal asks if she is required to serve, which the sand troll confirms, to which GuUshal groans. Vashti aims for the middle of the mill’s side. When she throws the ball up for the serve, she realizes that by aiming for the ground right in front of the mill, she can make the ball ricochet off the mill and over her and GuUshal’s side of the court, causing the mill to lose the round. Realizing that she’s a natural at hoopball, she succeeds in executing her plan. It is GuUshal’s turn to serve, and he once again aims for the far corner of the mill’s side. GuUshal and Vashti have won the game. The sand troll cheers, and GuUshal and Vashti discuss whether this can even be considered a victory.
GuUshal and Vashti find two wooden teardrops on the floor between them, and wonder why they are sitting on the floor having this discussion. They realize that they’ve lost track of time as they look out the window, and it’s dark.
Leila dives into the chapter on protective spirits in The Book of Transcendental Diseases. There are a lot of references back to other pages in part two of the book, and also to the Book of Many Symptoms. She inserts bookmarks at some of the frequently referenced pages and takes many notes. After hours of study, she comes to the conclusion that now she knows enough that if she were to cast a spell on herself giving herself the 9th sense, she would be able to determine the number of disease spirits. Assuming she can distinguish details well enough to tell Saldar and the disease properly apart, she might also be able to derive some details on the nature of the disease and its symptoms.
GuUshal and Vashti pick up a teardrop each and return to the entrance hall. GuUshal whistles for Shivv’Sha. He sees two ravens fly by the window, and shortly thereafter Shivv’Sha flies in, showing off her excellent aerobatics talent.
They all dine together in the staff dining hall, GuUshal and Vashti already having long dismissed the previous events as part of a distant dream or something from a book. On the way there, Leila notices that no more doors have been opened.