The Challenge of the Hand

It had a name, but everyone simply called it the Company. The Company was prosperous, prestigious, and pervasive. Dominating all industries from sea to sea. Exploring and founding even beyond the sea. It was a coveted position to be a worker in the Company. Those who attained the highest ranks were envied and revered all the more. For in those ranks, one was not a mere “worker.” One was a Hand. The Company had many Hands. And these Hands reached into every corner of the known world. The Company did not tolerate weak Hands. Only strong ones.

There was no great mystery about how one could become a Hand. One had to meet and complete the Challenge of the Hand.

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The Saltwater Realm

“Tell us a story first!” the boy said.

The grandmother had started tucking in the children with him. But she now glanced over at the eldest, who was sitting in her bed with her knees drawn up. The grandmother had already indulged them by letting them stay awake later than they should have. The boy’s request was a ploy to stay up even later. And yet…

How could she pass up the chance to tell a story? Especially to such a special audience. Still, she had to make them earn it.

“Ask me a question,” she told the eldest. “If there is a story to the answer, I will tell you that story.”

She continued her tucking in and noticed that the eldest’s siblings watched their sister with expectant eyes.

The girl thought for a while and then she asked, “Why is the ocean salty?”

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