The thrilling conclusion.
So I have come to the final day of my story. I could see the end of my travels approaching as Santa swam closer to the waterfall. The pace was slower now than it had been when I was struggling to maintain my grip upon the metal band, so I was able to take in a few of the sights on this strange side of the world.
Pray tell Santa, who is that upon the cliff? I said, my voice muffled by the fat mans strange belly.
The one on the left is the oldest creature known, ancient even before the birth of this world, by his telling. I am unsure how much faith to put in that statement, but there is no one who can remember a time when he was not alive, so it might have some merit. His young companion is named Freezy, and is otherwise unremarkable. They are the regents of this half of the world, able to lord over all but myself.
If you look straight ahead, you can now see the guardians at the base of the waterfall, little ornament, Santa said.
I turned my gaze forward, and saw that it was so. Two giant statues stood at the base of the waterfall, and we were rapidly approaching them. Blue fire leapt up from the insides of these constructions, casting an eerie glow across the landscape.
You will be watched even more carefully from now on, little ornament, Santa said, and swam deftly to the base of the waterfall, just across from the two statues. Now, you must leave my belly, for this is as far as I can take you. But please, let me tell you what I can about this last test before you start to climb.
I obeyed Santa, and crawled out of his stomach and onto one of his legs, being careful not to fall into the water below, lest I be swept away.
Look to the east side of the falls, my friend, and you will see a long wooden branch suspended in mid-air as if by magic. This is your only route to the top. Do you see it? Do you see the door it leads to?
Good. Now, I want you to look directly above your head. Look to the top of the world. Tell me what you see!
It was horrible. There were three beings suspended from the roof of the world, swinging by their bindings in the light breeze. Even from the ground, I could see the fear in their eyes.
Oh Santa! What has caused this? Who are they? Why are they here?
The animal creature, I believe they are called Moose, attempted to scale the waterfall on his own. He lived near me, actually, but no one really got a chance to know him. One day, he was gone, and soon enough we saw him hung as an example.
Sadly, Santa said, my predecessor Claus did not heed the warning. He forged an alliance with the brashest member of the snowman clan from the far side of the world, and together they attempted to scale the waterfall together. Ive heard tales that they reached the top. But now, I am the Santa Claus, and the two of them are trapped forever.
Oh my, I said.
Do you see? Do you understand? This is your last chance to turn back. I can help you no further, lest I share your fate.
I understood. It was no longer a mystery what my fate would be. This was the end of me. Yes, it was still possible for me to turn back, but what would that accomplish? Could I be content to live a life of ordinary pleasures? I would only be living for the day when my life in this world would in as had my life in the next. I missed my tree, but I not enough to go back to it just to live to die.
This was my mission. This was my purpose in life. I thanked Santa, and began my climb. If I was to die, so be it.
I climbed quickly. Each step brought me closer to fulfillment. I could taste nirvana; freedom from Samara. Freedom from longing, from questioning.
The climb was over almost as soon as it began, at least from my perception. I was at the door.
With just a gentle push, it began to open, revealing to me what I had long sought.
Another world. Nothing but another world Except…
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