The mulch steals away in his shoe, an unwanted passenger, as he trudges toward the stairs. As he breathes, more snot comes out than air, thin bubbles that pop as they tickle his upper lip. The wood planks feel fluid beneath his knees and the scent of cedar and baked in sweat flood his nose. At the top, he stands, wobbles, and steps towards the bridge. He shouts to his mom below, reminding her of the danger of procrastination and the urgency of motion- you couldn’t trust the type of pirates that might be sailing through these waters. The green turret of the castle cuts above the fog, calling out his name. There’s treasure nearby and his excitement is dripping off him, laced with sweat - swimming through his blood, filling his lungs and his mouth and stomach. He steps carefully, avoiding the edges where the earth stops and is replaced by clouds - a quiet slip could lead to a silent and sudden death. The air feels thick as the fog wraps around him - tickling his legs, licking his fingers, disorienting him. He can’t trust his eyes and his other senses step up to take the place of his vision and keep him alive. His body hums from the effort, each muscle tense, poised for motion. Footsteps fall behind him, but he can tell by the gait it’s his mom. He would need her help when they reached the castle if the stories were true, they were in for some digging.