Though the desert outside the temple is flat and featureless, the snake tattoo on your wrist points you where to go. Whenever you start to veer from the path, it wriggles agitatedly and points its head urgently where you need to be.
"Okay okay," you say after it starts getting particularly upset. "Calm your snakey butt."
The snake looks at you and hisses, then resumes pointing.
[You Wander the Desert]
Though the snake tattoo seems focused on its duty, you find that you're glad to have it. At times, you intentionally stray from the direction it wants you to go, teasing it lightly. Now that you have a voice and a captive audience, you find yourself talking to it frequently, recounting the strange journey you've had so far.
The snake is impatient, but occasionally nods in agreement, or otherwise reacts appropriately to the story, showing that it's listening.
[You Wander the Desert]
There comes a point where the desert sands end abruptly, bordering immediately on a patch of green grass that puts you in the mind of summer the second you step on it. The grass is springy underfoot, and it smells and looks as though it has been freshly cut.
You look around and see the patch of grass is curved, as though you are standing at the border of a huge circle of grass.
You walk several paces into the lawn and, despite the utter flatness of the ground a moment before, you inexplicably find yourself at the foot of a steep hill. When you look behind you, instead of the vast, dusty desert, you see miles and miles of shorn grass.
You check the snake on your wrist. It looks confused, but points towards the top of the hill, so you take its advice.
You climb the hill.
At the top of the hill there is a small cottage. The cottage looks like something out of a fairy tale with wooden-framed windows, wildflowers growing alongside the walls, and a roof with soft, curved shingles. It ought to be in the middle of a forest, not in this unnatural stretch of lawn.
In front of the cottage is a man. The man is tall and lean and somewhere between and old fifty and a young seventy. Despite the lack of trees around, he's chopping wood using an old stump. Beside him is a pile of unsorted chunks, to the other side is a pile of neatly stacked firewood.
He stops when you approach and hefts the axe onto his shoulder.
"Who are you?" you say, enjoying the feeling of being able to speak again.
"I was the Bridge Builder," he says with a smile. "But now I'm not."
"Who are you now?" you say.
He grins. "I think you know."
"Wish I did," you say. "But somebody stole my name off me. I want it back."
"It's mine now," he says. "It doesn't quite fit perfectly, but anything's better than being the old Bridge Builder."
"Why'd you steal my name?"
He sits down on the stump, propping up the axe and resting against the shaft. "Because I was the Bridge Builder," he says. "I was called to build exactly one bridge. The Bridge. The Bridge of all bridges. I spent untold eons crafting it from the finest celestial matter, carving out the abyss between worlds and filling the emptiness with molten starlight. The Bridge of all bridges. . . " his voice trails off, and he sighs.
"But that was it," he says. "The Bridge. The only bridge around here anyone will ever need, and it doesn't even get used because nobody in this wasteland can cross. What's the point of being a craftsman when there's nothing left to craft? What's the point of having a purpose if the purpose is over and done?"
"What does that have to do with my name?" you say, though you begin to have the feeling that you might already know.
"Name's are important around here," he says. "Living names more than most. You were you, and you could've been anything. Now I'm you, and I can be anything. I could be a mass murderer. I could be a shipwright. I could be a doctor, a spaceman, a hobo, a conductor-- anything I want!" He grins widely. "Today, I'm a man with an axe doing yard work. You folks don't appreciate the amount of potential you have."
"I want it back," you say. "I need it to get home."
"Too bad," he says. "I'm enjoying it. You go be nameless somewhere else, nameless soul."
"I need it," you say again.
"What have you got to trade?" he says. He crosses his arm and smirks, as though he doesn't think you have anything to offer. "You're asking me to give up the first bit of freedom I've had in eons. What have you got that's worth that?"