Chapter 1.5

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Finally, he shut his eyes, clenched his teeth, and reached back into the hole. He forced his fingers to remain on the lumpy thing. Its skin felt like the sheet of torpin Jaggles used to cover his boat. He lifted it out of the hole. It made a faint clinking sound, and he felt something weighty settle inside it.

It was a bag.

The bag was blue, with stripes of silver, and had two straps he figured went over the shoulders. There were several metal tags attached to it – it was these that had made the clinking sound. A rubber badge was sewn onto the bag. There was a word on the badge that he didn't know. The letters he recognised, but for the first, which looked like two Vs joined together. Beneath this was a picture of an animal he did recognise: a whale. In his language these creatures were called bal. He liked the picture of the bal. Its tail was raised to slap the surface of the sea, and a spout of water arced out from its head. A seam made of interlocking teeth ran around the top of the bag, but he couldn't pull it apart. He wondered if it was a magic bag, requiring an incantation to be opened. Then he saw that the metal tags were attached to the seam, and that when he wriggled one it moved along the seam like a train on a track, and, wonder upon wonder, unlocked the teeth. The bag split open like a mouth. Ward laughed out loud at the simplicity of it.

He reached into the bag and took out a rectangular box. It was bright purple and translucent, made of neither wood, nor glass, nor metal, but a strange smooth substance that flexed in his hands. He lifted one corner of the lid and it peeled off. A musty smell rose from the box. There was something he recognised immediately inside: a peach stone. It was dry, and had obviously been in there a long time.

The next thing he drew out of the bag made him gasp, for it was a terrible thing.

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If you haven't already guessed, a bal is an orangutan.

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