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Five pilgrims approach while you watch at a turnpike on the road, headed up to Ruffle Downs. They have not the appearance of robbers, so you rise, exit your cottage, and shout out to them: “Pilgrims to the crater may pass untolled.”

You return to the cottage, climbing the two steps and reaching down to open the door. Inside, you look up and glance out the window behind you prior to sitting down at your table beside the fireplace. The pilgrims, in unison, raise their hands and then lower their hoods.

You stare with astonishment, your brow rising and your jaw dropping. Each presumed ‘pilgrim’ wears a sorcerous tattoo atop his or her bald head, below a topknot of long hair falling down to the ankles!

As you continue to watch, the sorcerers turn and walk up to your cottage, as all the while their perpetually downcast eyes give them an eerie and unsettling aura. You lift the latch on your door and, embarrassingly, tumble down the short steps.

You slowly bring up your gaze to see the prince of airs — judging from his tattoo — gazing down at you. Your heart leaps up in your chest as he drops a fetiche on the ground before you.

What happens next?

hint 1

You will chide yourself up and down when you see how simple is the expected answer.

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  • $\begingroup$ I don't think you're likely to get more answers, how about a hint? $\endgroup$ – mr23ceec Oct 6 '16 at 22:57
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You slowly bring up your gaze to see the prince of airs — judging from his tattoo — gazing down at you. Your heart leaps up in your chest as he drops a fetiche on the ground before you.

You lift the fetiche from the ground as you drop your gaze from the sorceror's unsettling stare. But not before seeing the corners of his mouth rise in a faint smile, at which your heart falls back to its normal place in your chest.

Standing back up to your feet, you nod gravely and accept the fetiche as payment of the sorcerors' toll, then gesture down the cottage walk toward the turnpike. You say, "You are now welcome to head up to Ruffle Downs."

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  • $\begingroup$ ok I think that should fix it. :) $\endgroup$ – Rubio Oct 24 '16 at 20:43
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You pick it up? Each sentence before has a variation of up or down in it. First up, then down. It's up's turn, so this is my best guess.

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  • $\begingroup$ That's half the answer. Make it a complete sentence, and you'll probably get it. $\endgroup$ – can-ned_food Oct 7 '16 at 19:56
  • $\begingroup$ It feels like that should be "You bend down to pick it up", but as C.Woods pointed out, that would be out of turn. $\endgroup$ – mr23ceec Oct 13 '16 at 13:26
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What is odd about this is the mention of going up stairs and then down into a door. How could such an arrangement be next to a crater? What ruffles except birds? Is the crater therefore a bird nest? Who watches bird nests but the parents? Perhaps the male penguin. 🐧

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  • $\begingroup$ The surrealism in this answer is quite entertaining. :-) Not at all what was needed, but I like it anyway. $\endgroup$ – can-ned_food Oct 25 '16 at 21:31
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You bend down to pick up the fetish.

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I have one possible answer, and a second idea that I can't seem to resolve into a second answer.

Each of the other four travelers will provide their own totem as a toll, as they are either not pilgrims, or not going to the crater.

This is the base of the second answer:

In the beginning, the word "untolled" was heard by the pilgrims as "untold".

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  • $\begingroup$ But what's the hidden meaning of the story? $\endgroup$ – Rand al'Thor Oct 4 '16 at 22:23
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The hint is

just a slightly differently worded version of the well known clickbait line "What happens next will shock you!"

So I am guessing that

You pick up the fetish and it literally delivers an electric shock.

I'm not sure exactly what the pilgrims are, but

The description of them with the 'sorcerous tattoo atop his or her bald head' and the 'topknot of long hair falling down to the ankles' reminded me of something on a string or wire, so these 'pilgrims' are actually plugs or exposed connections of some sort and their 'hair' is the wire they are attached to.

The tattoos could be something like this:

enter image description here

The repetition of up/down/up/down

Could be a reference to alternating current?

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