“And, what exactly did you come here to find?”

Breathless, Nicyes only shook his head. He wasn’t sure why he was having such a hard time catching his breath, or why the world was spinning around him so quickly. He lifted his hand, which felt as though weighted down with stones, and beheld a vision of three such hands — and not just hands, but arms as well.

He turned his hand over, to look at the palm, and the other two arms turned in synchronicity. He understood now why it was so difficult to raise his arm — he had three to raise at once! They must have exerted some force on one another. How he was going to wield a blade again, he didn’t know, but with extra arms, he would no doubt become a superior grappler!

Nicyes raised his other hand, and found he had two extra arms on his other side as well — six arms would be a boon to any warrior! To his dismay, however, his six arms multiplied, and ended in more hands than he could count. The number of fingers he had now was staggering.

“I ask again, what did you come here to find?”

Nicyes looked up at the man who was speaking to him, or what he had assumed was a man until he saw the hundred-headed monstrosity in front of him. He tried to lunge at the terrible beast, but a thousand arms from every direction found him and held him fast, despite his struggling. He blamed his extra arms — slower and weaker than the two he’d been born with.

“Knowledge,” said Nicyes, gasping. “I came for knowledge of the beast that lurks in this marsh. The beast that spreads sickness and abducts–” Nicyes paused and looked around. The world was slowing down, coming back into focus. He had two arms again, two hands, and ten fingers. The man in front of him had only two — then one head.

The man stepped aside, and a giant took his place. Into Nicyes’s hands, the giant thrust an enormous scroll with teeth on its rollers. The giant spoke with a booming voice: “Knowledge you shall have, if you can keep it. This is the scroll of devouring. You must devour its contents from beginning to end without ceasing, for if you stop,” the giant paused, and gestured over the rollers to indicate to their teeth, “the scroll will devour your contents.”