The choice

Just beyond the brow of the hill, the path divides.

The western branch is paved with bracken and charcoal; it unwinds itself among trees. About three miles ahead, it passes a cottage, where a young woman with dark hair and a chain around her ankle chops timber by day and by moonlight. There is a kiln and the smell of something burning.

The eastern spit is laid out with bone, slippery to walk on, especially in the rain. It is always raining. You pass beneath a rib-cage bridge that rattles under the weight of unknown freight.

Choose the eastern path.

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